2017 Keynote Speakers

Denise LombardDenise Lombard
Director, Supplier Diversity, Global Procurement Services, Cisco

Denise is well known for her ability to build and lead high performing global teams. Her expertise in solving complex business problems and providing outstanding service to internal and external customers sets her apart in transforming operations.

She started in the Cisco Services Organization leading the Sales Operations Team over 10 years ago. She then joined the Sales organization where she managed approximately $100 M spend for the Inside Sales Vendor Management Organization, deploying approximately 1000 contingent workers. This experience more than prepared her for leading the Procurement Relationship Management team, known as the “trusted advisors” to the internal business functions, capturing their demand and optimizing their supplier landscape. Prior to Cisco, she was with Sun Microsystems where she lead their Technical Support Organization and various Sales Operations teams. 

Denise currently leads Supplier Diversity for Cisco, where she is responsible for the overall architecture of the program and the execution of Global Procurement Services Supplier Diversity program. This role is ideal for Denise because it plays to her passion to diversity and inclusion and her goal of making a significant difference within Cisco and the community. Denise also Co-Leads the San Jose Connected Women’s Community Outreach pillar, which is focussed on increasing young women’s excitement and awareness around Science, Technology, Engineering and Math careers. She received the Teacher of the Year award from Citizen Schools 2013 and one of the Silicon Valley Business Journal's Women of Influence for 2017. 

She graduated from San Jose State University with a BS degree in Business Management.


Clare MarkovitsClare Markovits
Senior Director, Business Operations Chief Digital Office, Cisco

Clare Markovits serves as Chief of Staff in the company's Chief Digital office. In this role, she supports the organization’s overall operations, planning and governance including driving cross-functional, transformational initiatives in support of the operating model redesign. Day to day responsibilities include operations, organizational and people planning, budget oversight, strategic communications and stakeholder management. She works closely with the Chief Digital Officer and other top-ranking Cisco executive teams to ensure alignment, operationalize and orchestration of CDO efforts.

Prior to this role Clare, led the Acquisition Integration Customer, Partner and Employee Experience in the Chief Strategy office, supporting the integration of 41 Cisco acquisitions, investments and divestures. She effectively supported the onboarding of more than 8,000 employees resulting in a 70%+ retention record while posting a 30% gain in productivity.

Large-scale, complex transformational initiatives are the hallmark of Clare’s career. From global service deployment processes and the development & launch of highly technical software to CRM solutions and strategic alliances, she has continuously received accolades for playing the role of 'visionary pragmatist.' She joined Cisco in 1999 as a business development manager where she launched five e-business joint solutions that included Cisco products, CRM and ERP partners and consulting services. From there, she took on increasing levels of responsibility in the company across divisions where she made financial and operational impact.

From strategy to execution, Clare is a visionary “’pragmatist” in her ability to see the big picture, motivate teams, all while solving tough business problems and building scalable platforms for the future.

Resourceful and innovative, she always searches out new ways to deliver value to employees, customers, and partners while driving revenue growth, improving business operations and establishing industry best practices.

Clare also continues to blaze trails in Cisco as a leader of gender diversity. She works across the company to attract, develop and retain talented female employees and has a passion for mentoring & coaching women in all stages of their career.

Clare graduated from San Luis Obispo Cal Poly State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Materials Engineering. She subsequently attended Santa Clara University where she earned her Master’s in Business Administration with a concentration in international business. She and her husband are proud parent of an adopted eight-year old child Mara Christina from the country of Georgia.  Her loving extended family includes both sets of grandparents, six aunts, five uncles and fifteen cousins. Her husband, Mara and she love to cook & eat, listen & play music, explore new adventures, read & solve puzzles and to share Mara’s Georgian heritage & culture. Mara has brought joy to the entire extended family and they are actively involved in her development and progress.

Cheryl ThomasCheryl Thomas  
Vice president of Software Engineering Operations, Apple

She leads a global team of more than 500 women and men with diverse engineering and operational responsibilities, including the customization of all of Apple’s products for international markets. Cheryl joined Apple in 1989, working her way up from engineering roles in Enterprise to Apple Care to Hardware and finally to Software, where she leads today. Along the way she contributed to countless groundbreaking products and technologies. 

Throughout her career, Cheryl has been a strong advocate for diversity and inclusion. She serves as an executive sponsor for Apple's partnership with the Thurgood Marshall College Fund and its Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) initiatives, and she spearheads many of Apple's programs focused on empowering women in engineering today.