“You can’t be what you can’t see.” So, Sasha Pickett, manager of digital services for HCA’s Information Technology and Services (IT&S), launched a local movement to diversify, and ultimately, change the face of technology. In 2013, with the green light from HCA’s Chief Information Officer Marty Paslick, she founded IT Girls – a mentoring program that pairs women in technology at our Nashville-based headquarters with young ladies at John Overton High School.

The three-year effort to raise girls’ awareness of career opportunities in technology has led to nearly 500 budding female techies in Middle Tennessee. And Pickett – the force behind IT Girls – has recruited nearly 50 HCA IT&S women to serve as mentors for, what was initially opened to freshmen girls only, but since has expanded to sophomores and juniors at Overton High.

“Information technology deserves a workforce assembled of and driven by the best talent in today’s market – that includes women,” the 11-year IT&S staffer said. “My goal is to encourage these young women, like I do with my three daughters, that you can do anything you want in this world. There are many rewarding careers in IT, and just because you may not have seen a woman in that role, does not mean it is out of reach.”

Pickett and other mentors use dedicated volunteer hours for IT Girls through HCA’s year-round Caring for the Community effort, which encourages corporate employees to give back to the community, and by doing so, become eligible for mini-grants to their charity of choice. In three years, the IT&S mentors, including Pickett, who won HCA’s top community service award in 2015, have logged over 1,200 volunteer hours at Overton High.

The IT Girls program started at the Metro-Nashville public school, but the story doesn’t end there. During this academic year, Pickett organized a “Day in the Life” event for the school’s sophomore IT Girls at HCA. The girls spent a half-day on the corporate campus, job shadowing IT&S employees in web design, programming and networking.

“The girls benefit from meeting with their mentors at Overton,” Pickett said, “but a trip to HCA gives them a glimpse into the professional world and inspires them when they actually see that there are girls in IT.”

Because “you can’t be what you can’t see.”

We’re proud to present the newest HCA Hero – Sasha Pickett, for her work with IT Girls and the Nashville tech community.

HCA internal audience can view the video here