Innovation Economy

At top of tech sector, women lead by example

Excerpts from the Innovation Economy blog.

Who are the most powerful women on Boston’s technology scene?

I considered three factors:

Impact - How big of an organization do they oversee, how large of a fund do they manage, and how much revenue does the company generate?


Connectivity - How well networked are they and how much mentoring of younger executives and entrepreneurs do they do?

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Thought leadership - How much do they speak, write, and comment in the media?

Here is the list:

■Rebecca Rhoads, chief informat ion officer, Raytheon

How’s this for a big job description? Rhoads oversees the IT infrastructure for a defense contractor with 71,000 employees, many of whom work on top-secret projects. She also helps shape Raytheon’s strategy for the IT products and services it offers to customers. She has been the Waltham company’s chief information officer since 2001.

■Gail Goodman, chief executive, Constant Contact

Goodman runs the publicly traded Waltham e-mail marketing company, where she has been overseeing acquisitions to help Constant Contact expand its social media prowess. Constant Contact ended 2011 with 900 employees and 500,000 paying customers.

■Diane Hessan, chief executive, Communispace


Hessan sold her company last year to Omnicom Group but it continues to grow at its new offices near South Station, and she remains a central node in Boston’s tech and digital media networks. Communispace was a pioneer in helping big companies like Mattel and Home Depot build and manage online customer communities - and use them for market research.

■Wendy Cebula, chief operating officer, VistaPrint

VistaPrint was one of the pioneers of “free-conomics,’’ giving away free business cards on the Web and later selling other printing services to those trial customers. Though the company is now headquartered in Paris, Cebula works in Lexington. The company’s 2011 revenues rose 22 percent over the prior year, to $817 million. VistaPrint employs more than 3,000.

■Helen Greiner, chief executive, CyPhy Works

The iRobot cofounder is working on a new venture, Danvers-based CyPhy Works. The stealthy start-up is developing flying bots for military and industrial customers, capable of performing surveillance, search-and-rescue, and inspection missions. One early government grant the company won relates to inspecting bridges. Greiner has been active in promoting science and technology education initiatives and serves as president of the Robotics Technology Consortium.

■Mary Puma, chief executive, Axcelis Technologies

Twenty of the world’s biggest chip makers rely on production equipment from Axcelis, of Beverly. Its 2011 revenue was $319 million, up 16 percent, and the company was once again operating in the black after a tough restructuring. Puma, a veteran of GE, oversees just over 1,000 employees and serves on the board of SEMI, the association of semiconductor equipment suppliers.

■Maria Cirino, managing director, .406 Ventures

After selling her last company to VeriSign, the longtime entrepreneur started a venture capital firm. Her investments include security, video, and online payment start-ups. Last year, .406 - named for Ted Williams’s record-setting batting average - reported it was more than midway through with raising a $175 million investment fund.

■danah boyd, senior researcher, Microsoft Research


Based in Microsoft’s Kendall Square outpost, boyd (she prefers not to capitalize her name) is a leading authority on how young people use technology and social media. She has contributed to books about how children use the Web, written essays on cyber bullying, and delivered high-profile talks about changing notions of privacy at conferences like South by Southwest. Last year, she was part of the World Economic Forum’s “young global leaders’’ group.

■Jean Hammond, angel investor

After a career as a data networking entrepreneur, Hammond has become one of Boston’s most active and well-connected angel investors, backing start-ups like Zipcar, Crimson Hexagon, and Ten Marks. She mentors up-and-coming start-ups through TechStars and helped start the Golden Seeds angel group, which invests exclusively in women-run businesses. Hammond also runs workshops to introduce others to angel investing.

■Sheila Marcelo, chief executive,

Marcelo is one of those rare entrepreneurs in Boston trying to build a consumer-oriented Internet business. Care helps connect individuals with prescreened personal care providers, from nannies to nurses to pet sitters. In 2010, Marcelo was the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year for New England. The Waltham company, founded in 2006, has 120 employees. Marcelo was a senior executive at Upromise, an online college savings program, and, a search engine for executive jobs.

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