Motorola tech chief finds time for White House
February 20, 2006
BY MICHAEL KRAUSS
White House visits
are old hat for Sox and Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf. But they
are a definite turn-on for Chicago's tech leaders.
When asked about his
recent visit, Reinsdorf looked weary. With six Bulls championships
and a World Series trophy, he has a right to be low-key. We know
Sox manager Ozzie Guillen's story: on vacation with presidential
permission. Rest, Ozzie. We need a repeat.
Then there's Motorola
Chief Technology Officer Padmasree Warrior, one of our town's
top engineers, who hauled home gold from the White House last
Warrior stopped by
the White House to pick up the National Medal of Technology award
on behalf of Motorola. Warrior was clearly jazzed.
"It was awesome,"
says Warrior, fresh from the East Room ceremony and a meeting
with President Bush. "I was very proud to be there."
The award honors the
company's 75 years of innovation, and recognizes Motorola for
creating the car radio, the walkie-talkie, the cell phone and
behalf of the engineers
preen for the crowds as Olympic snowboarders Shaun White and Danny
Kass did. She accepted the honor gracefully on behalf of Motorola's
"It's a proud
moment not just for the people who work at Motorola today, but
for all who have contributed throughout Motorola's history,"
A high tech Olympian,
Warrior brought home the gold for Chicago. "Most of our innovation
has come out of Chicago," says Warrior, who adds it's a victory
for her company and our town.
Did Warrior give the
president a RAZR, Motorola's sleek, hot-selling cell phone? She
carries a limited edition gold colored RAZR that reportedly sells
for $2,000 on eBay.
says. "He gave me something." A well-deserved gold medal
for technology prowess. Let's hope there's a repeat.
Can an opera
singer make it big in tech? In Chicago she can, and she can help
you find a baby-sitter. Genevieve Thiers is the 27-year-old founder
and CEO of Chicago-based Sittercity. She's also an operatic soprano.
As an undergraduate
at Boston College, Thiers had a thriving baby-sitting practice.
It was too good. There were more clients than she could serve.
A natural born organizer, Thiers connected her overflow of customers
with other college students.
Then she saw Match.com,
the online dating service site, and realized the solution.
"We took the model
of an online dating service and applied it to child care,"
Thiers says. "We created Sittercity to address a desperate
need by mothers in America."
After launching in
Boston in 2001, Thiers relocated to Chicago in 2002 to work on
a master's degree in opera at Northwestern. She still sings and
acts, recently performing in "Little Women" at the Athenaeum,
but this soprano is a committed entrepreneur.
have over 20,000 parents and 150,000 sitters and nannies,"
Thiers says. Prospective sitters sign up free. Parents pay $39.99
for their first month and $5 per month thereafter to access the
site and prospective sitters.
Thiers attributes her
love of sitting to being the eldest of seven children. Watching
her sibs was second nature. She estimates she personally logged
more than 2,500 sitting jobs over the years.
Don't think for a minute
opera singers have weak business skills. Quite the contrary, Thiers
suggests: "Opera singers, especially sopranos, have a reputation
for being ditzy. That couldn't be more wrong. The typical opera
singer has to plot and scheme with the best of them. The fact
that people underestimate us works to our advantage."
Monster.com. There could
be a Chicago soprano in the wings.
brightest star in Chicago tech? Fred Hoch, president of the Illinois
Information Technology Association, wants to know. Hoch is hosting
the ITA's annual City Lights Awards on March 23. Hoch wants Sun-Times
readers' help in naming the single individual who's had the most
impact on Chicago tech.
vote at www.itacitylights.com.
Allstate assistant vice president, was named one of the 100 Most
Important Blacks in Technology for 2006 by US Black Engineer &
Krauss is a Chicago area tech writer and consultant.