The Illinois Diversity Council continues its series on Modern Day Hidden Figures which includes profiles and highlights on individuals making a difference in diversity-challenged industries and career fields such as STEM, aviation, psychology, legal, and more. In this edition, we focus on technology and celebrate three honorees from the recently published Chicago Business Crain’s Tech 50 List, including the Illinois Diversity Councils very own, Christine Izuakor.

Sonia Nagar

At 35, Sonia is the Vice President at Pritzker Group Venture Capital where she is responsible for sourcing, diligence and oversight for the firm’s investment in consumer, enterprise and emerging technologies. A magna cum laude graduate of the University of Michigan’s mechanical engineering undergraduate program, and Harvard’s MBA program, Sonia built a solid technical and business foundation, before taking the industry by storm. But, it didn’t start there. In just 4th grade, an intellectually curious young Sonia built an electric motor.

According to Crain’s, “This venture investor brings to the table both nerd and startup cred: Nagar attended B-school at Harvard University, then worked at Amazon as a product manager and sailed through Techstars accelerator in New York. She joined Pritzker Group last year from Austin, Texas-based RetailMeNot, which bought her mobile-shopping app, Pickie, in 2014.”

Rishi Shah

At 31, Rishi is the CEO at Outcome Health, a company that installs touch screens in doctor’s offices and uses specialized software to help physicians and patients make treatment decisions. This freshly minted billionaire and co-founder of the company, currently valued at $5.6 billion, is no stranger to praise. At 23, he was the youngest honoree named to Chicago Business Crain’s 40 under 40 list back in 2009.

At 31, Rishi is the CEO at Outcome Health, a company that installs touch screens in doctor’s offices and uses specialized software to help physicians and patients make treatment decisions. This freshly minted billionaire and co-founder of the company, currently valued at $5.6 billion, is no stranger to praise. At 23, he was the youngest honoree named to Chicago Business Crain’s 40 under 40 list back in 2009.

According to Crain’s, “Rishi Shah and Shradha Agarwal, have been rising stars for a while, but they vaulted to the top of this year’s list of the city’s most promising young executives after engineering one of the biggest deals ever for a Chicago tech company. Together they raised more than $500 million for Outcome Health, setting it on course for an IPO. Outcome’s sprawling health advertising and education video network operates in 55,000 doctors’ offices, and it piled up nearly $200 million in revenue last year. Headcount now tops 600 employees.”

Christine Izuakor

At 27, Christine is the Manager of global security strategy and awareness at United Airlines. In a world of escalating hack attacks and cyber threats, Christine, who recently earned her PhD in security engineering and became the youngest student and first African American woman to do so, plays an integral role in the company’s IT security. Growing up in a Nigerian family, she says striving for a career in security was unexpected and not considered a respectable choice, but she defied those expectations in order to pursue her dreams.

According to Crain’s, “She’s a high-flyer in United’s technology ranks, quickly rising from intern to helping manage the airline’s cybersecurity strategy, reporting to the chief information security officer. The newly minted Ph.D. in security engineering, who previously oversaw United’s email phishing awareness program, also is responsible for keeping employees up to speed on IT security. As co-founder of her company’s millennial resource group, Gen Trend, she’s advising her bosses, who are trying to make the airline more millennial-friendly.”

The full Chicago Tech 50 List can be viewed here:

More background on this series: Last year, the notorious film, Hidden Figures, highlighted 3 trailblazers in STEM that for many years have gone unrecognized. On a larger scale, the movie highlighted the often under-credited trailblazers who boldly pave the way for future generations and create new opportunities in diversity-challenged industries. There is a growing need to show all ethnicities and backgrounds of the next generation, how these diverse individuals are breaking glass ceilings and challenging the status quo in STEM as beyond. This series aims to contribute to addressing this challenge by raising awareness.

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