Greater Miami Chamber honors technology leaders
By April M. Havens
Five Miami organizations and individuals received Technology Leaders of the Year awards Friday as part of the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce's second annual awards luncheon.
The awards honor those with extraordinary technological hands-on experience whose management of technology resources or technological innovations have made outstanding contributions to their organization and the community, the chamber says.
Claus Schaale, a major account manager for Cisco Systems Inc. and first-year judge for the awards, said the judges "were looking for companies and people that are Miami-based and attracting high-level technology professionals as employees and using the technology themselves."
For best use of technology for the community as a whole, the South Florida Technology Alliance took the honors. This award looks for individuals or organizations promoting growth, success and awareness of the South Florida technology community.
"That organization helps educate businesses on technology and helps them adopt technologies into their company," Mr. Schaale said. "It's about making your business better or faster or more efficient."
In the chief information officer/chief technology officer category, Steven Berwick of Kaufman, Rossin & Co. took the award. Mr. Berwick said the award was an honor for both him and his group of information technology employees.
Mr. Berwick led his company in a move to go entirely paperless in 2002, a move that helped the firm run more efficiently, he said.
"Technology is huge for us," Mr. Berwick said. "As a CPA firm, we are highly dependent on technology to service our clients.
"We use everything from tax prep software, accounting and auditing software and a tremendous amount of other tools every day."
The award he won differs slightly from the other awards in that it honors one person's career, Mr. Schaale said, noting anyone who can work in that role "for more than five years is a hero."
Mr. Berwick has been at Kaufman, Rossin & Co. for 30 years.
For technology administrator in education, Linda Lecht of The Education Fund was honored for helping to put refurbished computers in low-income students' homes and providing computer-based professional development for teachers and students' families.
Hugo G. Perez of Datacorp took the technology infrastructure and resource management award for his role in managing information technology and systems integration, fostering an environment of cooperation and mentoring smaller system integration organizations in the tech industry. This award "is an example of technology adoption," Mr. Schaale said.
Demian Bellumio of Hoodiny Entertainment Group is the 2008 technology innovator for his role in creating a music-based social networking Web platform www.cyloop.com, Mr. Schaale said.
"It's basically a Myspace with iTunes altogether," he said.
"Here you can create a social network based on music. They do two things: represent artists online (with a focus on Latin artists), and they create the social network around that artist."
Mr. Schaale said the awards are meant to help "attract IT talent into the Miami arena.
"We hope to promote the companies' thinking about engaging in tech business overall and help make this an attractive place to do business in technology."
Mr. Berwick said he thinks awards like these do exactly that. "It's pretty obvious that technology is in almost every organization, and technology is critical in today's environment where people compete on a global level.
"If you're not really on top of the technology, you're going to fall behind. But also in every organization, the computer guys are probably the least appreciated.
"Technology is so important that people just expect it, but they don't understand what is involved in keeping it going. The awards are a great thing in that they get people involved and recognized. It's great for everyone."