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Frances West            

Internationally Recognized Thought Leader, Strategy Advisor & Women-in-Technology Trailblazer; Former IBM Chief Accessibility Officer

Frances West delivers thought-provoking personalized speaking engagements that influence leaders, impact businesses and inspire organizational transformation.

Also recognized as one of the world’s foremost authorities on digital inclusion, West is considered a trail-blazing woman-in-tech pioneer in elevating the business case for human first design in digital innovation. Her strategic approach brings the transformational initiatives required for the next normal into real-life actions, resulting in an intersectional workplace that truly reflects parity for all people.

In June 2016, Frances West concluded her stellar, three decades-long career as IBM first Chief Accessibility Officer to found her global advisory company FrancesWestCo, working with public, private and non-profit organizations, including start-ups, to drive disruptive innovation and operationalize inclusion as a business imperative. A global information technology executive with in-depth market-making expertise, West’s wealth of experience has helped industries accelerate growth, drive expansion and inspire innovation.

Unique among her peers, West is the rare business leader with both the hands-on enterprise management experience and digital inclusion perspective to help organizations achieve actual transformational change and innovation. As a non-English speaking Asian immigrant, she has fought against barriers throughout her career to achieve extraordinary success at aligning business principle, purpose and profit. Her inspirational talks center around managing the challenges of adversity and the disruption of the unknown by following one’s true North.

West began as a systems engineer at IBM and rose to become Chief Accessibility Officer in 2014. Among her many achievements, she held numerous high-level executive positions in Research, Banking, Insurance, and Partner and Business Development. She holds several US patents for inclusive technologies.

The noted author of “Authentic Inclusion Drives Disruptive Innovation, her timely, actionable book on digital inclusion, West’s work was recognized in 2019 at both the CES and SXSW conferences. An influential business thought-leader and inspirational speaker, she has been invited to discuss digital transformation at Fortune 500 companies like Google, Daimler and ING, among others.

Throughout her career, West has received numerous awards in recognition of her work, notably the Leadership award from the Global Initiative for Inclusive ICT’s (G3ICT), a finalist for the Mobile World Congress Shanghai Women4Tech Award and the first John D Kemp Individual Leadership Award from the US Business Leadership Network (aka Disability: IN), and holds an honorary doctorate of science degree from the University of Massachusetts, Boston, as well as an appointment as instructor at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Her advanced executive education includes study at both Wharton and Harvard Business Schools.

Among her many prestigious speaking engagements, West has served as the sole IT industry representative to testify before the US Senate on the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities. She has delivered keynotes at policy forums for the United Nations and led panels at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona and CES in Las Vegas. She created and conducted the Inclusive Financial Services Forum in New York, Paris and Beijing with clients such as Met Life, Barclay Banks, and Bank of China.

West is currently a member of the Board of Directors of the Massachusetts chapter of the International Women’s Forum; the World Institute on Disability; and chair of Strategy and Development at G3ict, a UN Affiliated organization promoting digital inclusion. She is active in mentorship, volunteering and community service. Born in Taiwan, West attended the Chinese University of Hong Kong, Washington & Lee University in Virginia, and was graduated with a marketing degree from the University of Kentucky.

Speech Topics

Purpose, Profit and Principle: The Path to Inclusive Digital Transformation

Frances’ focus here is on the implications of technology and the 4th Industrial Revolution, examining why we must think human-first and act holistically to fulfill tech’s promise to serve and delight all humans.

Taking It Personally: Gaining Strength from Your Ethnicity, Your Family to Live Authentically

In this timely talk, Frances speaks about why bringing your whole life to work strengthens your inner compass and helps manage the challenges of adversity and the disruption of the unknown, based on her personal journey as a trailblazing woman in tech, from non-English speaking Asian immigrant to the C-suite at IBM. She covers how to lead as an Asian immigrant woman in times of change or crisis.

Best of Both Worlds: Why and how Asian Value creates Authentic American Leadership

Frances talks from the heart about the myths and truths surrounding Asian women who lead. She shares personal stories of challenges encountered and overcome and how she manages through turbulence. Her insights are drawn from her three decades ascending through the ranks and reaching the top of the corporate ladder at IBM. Frances’ perspective on building consensus and relationships to foster long-lasting loyalty offers a holistic strategy valuable for every woman, of any ethnicity.

Human First Design and the Inclusive Digital Workplace: A Blueprint to Removing Barriers and Driving Value

Frances talks about how to operationalize inclusion holistically from the top down and across all functions, so it scales and sustains. She takes a close look at why technology is not fulfilling its promise and how we can better prepare the workforce of the future.

Authentic Inclusion: The Strategic Business Imperative that Drives Disruptive Innovation

Learn from this Insightful talk on new perspectives that will inspire leaders to achieve disruptive innovation through authentic inclusion, offering a strategic blueprint for business to operationalize inclusion.

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