Imagine Cup 2012 IT Challenge Judges Announced!

Imagine Cup 2012

The Imagine Cup 2012 IT Challenge has announced it's competition judges.  The Imagine Cup (, sponsored by Microsoft, is a global competition in its 10th year of competition that invites college students from around the world to leverage their expertise in computer technologies for cash prize money and an opportunity to be crowned the "best of the best in the world" in technology solutions.

This year's IT Challenge started back in September (2011) at the start of the school year, and all of the competitors have gone through a series of qualifying rounds to test their knowledge of Microsoft technologies such as Windows 7, Exchange 2010, SharePoint 2010, Lync 2010, System Center Configuration Manager 2007, System Center Operations Manager 2007, SQL 2008 R2, Office 365, Microsoft Azure, Office 2010, Ssytem Center Data Protection Manager 2010, System Center Service Manager 2010, Forefront Identity Manager 2010, Threat Management Gateway 2010, System Center Opalis, Windows Server 2008 R2, Hyper-V, Windows Phone 7, and the like.

The competitors who have advanced in the competition to Round 2 have now written and submitted a 10-page essay creating a written recommendation for a technical solution of a scenario to meet the goals of the case study.  Over 1000 students from over 80 countries have advanced to this essay / case study round!

The IT Challenge Judges come from around the globe (4 continents represented) from esteemed backgrounds in technology, management, and IT operations!  The judges will rank the finalists who will advance to the final hands-on round where the competitors will then be challenged to actually build full networks and IT systems, both on-premise and in the cloud in a 24-hour competition.

The top 3 finalists will be flown to Sydney Australia this summer to receive cash prizes (US $8000 for first place, US $4000 for second place, US $3000 for third place).

The expert judges include:

Annette Lafrance, Vice President of IT, Taleo / OracleAnnette is an IT leader who has pioneered the use of technology in the world of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and Cloud IT services over the past 13 years; her current role is Vice President of Information Technology at Taleo. Taleo Corporation is a publicly traded provider of cloud-based Talent Management solutions that delivers its products entirely via a SaaS model, in which all software and information resides in data centers operated and secured by Taleo. Over 15% of all new hires in the US and over 50% for the Fortune 100 are hired through Taleo’s suite of products. Oracle announced a definitive agreement to acquire Taleo in February 2012. Barbara McShane, Director of IT, BioMarin Pharmaceuticals

Barbara has over 25 years experience in Information Technology, the last 15 being with Life Science companies. Her roles have included heading operations, infrastructure, applications, architecture and strategic planning. As the Director of IT, Barbara led teams that have deployed key strategic platforms including Microsoft OCS and Lync across all BioMarin global sites. Prior to IT, Barbara worked as a science researcher and earned her MS in Clinical Science.

Greg Ogle, Senior Director IT Infrastructure and Operations, EquinixGreg has been in the technology industry for over 15 years with positions at esteem companies like Oracle and VeriSign, and most recently at Equinix, a global leader in data center and platform communications. As a Senior IT leader at Equinix, Greg currently manages the IT Infrastructure and Operations and previously managed the Front Office IT Applications teams. Greg's specialties include Acquisition Integrations and Divestitures (IT applications and operations); Design, Development and Operation of Global IT Organization (applications and infrastructure); Developing Business-IT Governance Constructs (applications and infrastructure); and Developing Business-focused Global IT Strategy (applications and infrastructure)  

Gwendolyn Regina TAN, Co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of

Apart from SGE, Gwen is also a Partner at Thymos Capital, where she focuses on early stage investments in technology firms. She has had two exits out of her investments via the firm, one of which is iHipo. A frequent mentor and judge for business competitions and Startup Weekends in Southeast Asia, she graduated from the National University of Singapore. Gwen also spent some time in Silicon Valley and studied in Stanford University under the NUS Overseas College programme. Gwen is a mentor at Spanish incubator Tetuan Valley, Polish incubator Gamma Rebels, the Singapore Ambassador for the Sandbox network and the Singapore curator for StartupDigest. She enjoys languages, travelling, dance and adventure sports. Gwen can be found on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Kimberly Amaris, Imagine Cup (2005-present) / Project Management Professional (PMP)Kim has been in the IT industry for over 15 years, supporting the Imagine Cup IT Challenge every year since 2005!  As an advocate for Women in Technology, Kim has been encouraging and supporting young women around to globe to choose a career in Tech.  Kim is a Project Management Professional (PMP) and Certified IT Project Manager working at Convergent Computing in the San Francisco Bay Area supporting and overseeing the successful implementation and execution of some of the largest IT projects in the world. Kim's main focus on managing enterprise scale IT projects provides her access to and the responsibility for the management and oversight of cross-functional teams of men and women from around the globe. Kim has also been a contributing author on bestselling books on Microsoft Exchange, Windows Server, and project management solutions.

Before her transition into the technology field, Kim was a professional chef graduated from the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco. She worked as pastry chef at the well-known golf resort, Inn at Spanish Bay in Pebble Beach and then starting her own catering business in Colombia South America.  As an entrepreneur, Kim found herself looking for ways to automate and streamline management of her business which was the impetus for her to pursue a career in the technology field and to be a part of the ever growing industry of digital automation!

Lisa Nedley-Walton, Senior Director IT Operations, Bare EscentualsLisa has been in the technology industry for over 25-yrs with a background in retail IT at organizations like Mervyn’s, Target, and Dayton Hudson and management roles at Xilinx, Xoma, and most recently at Bare Escentuals. As Senior Director of IT Operations for Bare Escentuals, a leading manufacturer and retailer of cosmetics, Lisa ensures the delivery, implementation, support, and communications of IT initiatives in the company.  

Per Werngren, CEO, Idenet, Stockholm Sweden

Per Werngren is the past Worldwide President of the International Association of Microsoft Channel Partners (IAMCP) as well as the CEO of Idenet AB in Scandinavia. He has travelled in his IAMCP volunteer role all over the globe visiting Microsoft subsidiaries developing partnering among Microsoft partners. As CEO of Idenet he leads a company 100% focused on delivering Private Cloud solutions to Scandinavian customers. Idenet recently won the frame agreement for Hosting for the Swedish Public Sector and was ranked as No1 ahead of stiff competition. Being a serial entrepreneur Per has started and funded a number of IT companies.

Shashi Kulkarni, Senior Director and Head of IT, Extreme Networks

Shashikant (Shashi) Kulkarni is the Head of Information Technology at Extreme Networks® of Santa Clara, California, USA, founded in 1996, a publicly listed company that designs, builds, and installs sophisticated Ethernet solutions that meet the toughest challenges in network connectivity and IP-based communications. Extreme Networks addresses a wide range of customers with wired and wireless network infrastructures, from corporate enterprises such as manufacturers, retailers, financial institutions, utilities and healthcare organizations, to large universities and K-12 school districts to federal and local governments worldwide.

Shashi is a bachelor of Mechanical Engineering, Bachelor of Computer Science, Certified Project Management Professional, and a Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP – APICS). He has the industry experience of more than 30 years, the first 15 years of them as a Mechanical Engineer wherein he has manufactured Special Purpose Machines, Transfer Lines, Pick and Place Robots and Moulding Lines of Foundries. It was after that when he transitioned to Information Technology where in the last 15 years, he has implemented 3-D modeling software for design of machines, implemented Oracle e-Business ERP Applications, lead teams in implementing and upgrading CRM, HR, Manufacturing Resource Planning, Budgeting and Planning, Data Warehouse and Business Intelligence applications. Most recently he has been instrumental in adapting the Cloud technologies for Business Collaboration, Emails, SI&OP planing, Incentive and Commissions and Unified Communications using Microsoft Lync and Office 365 platform.

Shashi is a vivid reader and has a library of his own which consists books such as "Magic of Thinking Big", "Seven Habits of Highly Effective People", "Think and Grow Rich", "Psycho Cybernetics", "World Class IT", "Steve Jobs", "Innovators Dilemma" and "How to Win Friends and Influence People", to name a few.

High Expectations, Prioritization, Intense Focus and Continuous Improvement are the keys to success according to Shashi.

In order to succeed in life, if there is one sentence to remember according to Shashi, that is "You can never exceed your own expectations; so better have greater than life expectations and master your mind". 

Thames Kral, CIO, California Teachers Association

Thames Kral, the chief information officer of the California Teachers Association (CTA), is responsible for the vision, strategy, policies, and implementation of information technology for the organization. Since joining CTA in February 1997, Thames has created organizational transformation through strategic enterprise infrastructure planning and architecture execution supporting CTA’s strategy.

Prior to joining CTA he was a senior manager with Andersen with a business target of technically transforming companies specializing in technical strategic direction and change management. Prior to Andersen he was a systems engineer with Electronic Data Systems (EDS) working with Hitachi developing custom applications and earlier in his career he spent five years with Hewlett Packard.

Thames received two bachelor degrees (BBA in Finance and a BBA in Marketing with emphasis in Economics) from Boise State University in 1991. He also graduated from the trade union program at Harvard Law School in 2000.

Zhifeng Chen, Co-founder & CEO, NTFusion, ChinaZhifeng was the IT Challenge 1st place winner of the Imagine Cup 2007 IT Challenge. He has rich experience in providing IT solutions by using .NET and Windows Server Product Family. After winning the Imagine Cup competition in 2007, Zhifeng founded NTFusion ( which uses latest technology such as HTML5 to provide people the best online game experience. 

We welcome our panel of expert judges, and we look forward to announcing the top 6 finalists in a very long and challenging competition!  Congratulations to ALL of the competitors in this year's Imagine Cup competition!!!

Rand Morimoto, Ph.D.; Chris Amaris, MCITP/CISSP; Valy Greavu, Ph.D/MVP

Imagine Cup 2012 IT Challenge Co-Captains

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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