In the 1990s, Long Island was going through a major recession. The defense industry, which many Long Islanders relied on for employment for years, had shrunk dramatically. There were a lot of empty office buildings and unemployment was high. A lot of people were worried about the future of the region.
It was during that time that LISTnet (Long Island Software and Technology Network) was created by Peter Goldsmith with a group of founding members who shared the belief that creating a strong technology ecosystem on the Island was part of the solution. They were right, and LI emerged from the recession with a thriving software and technology sector.
During the pandemic, we have seen how the power of technology allows businesses to continue to operate. But businesses will need to keep leveraging technology to continue adapting and stay competitive. One thing we can do as a community is help connect businesses with the people who can help them with the technology they need to succeed.
Businesses are also dependent on being able to hire people to help them build their solutions. As such, we should foster connections between the universities, colleges, trade schools, and the local business community. The more that businesses and educators can interact, the more that what the schools teach can align with skills that businesses are looking for. The schools can become a pipeline for talent as those businesses grow.
Nassau and Suffolk counties also need new businesses. As such we should encourage, support, and mentor entrepreneurs and help connect them to sources of funding when they need it. Entrepreneurs are true innovators. They look at the world and see a way to make it better. In order to succeed, though, they need to successfully manage their businesses as well.
Finally, we need to create more spaces for entrepreneurs, innovators and other dreamers. Five years ago, LISTnet created the Digital Ballpark in Plainview as a coworking space for technology, creative, and innovation-based companies. Though the lineup has changed over the years, it has become a home base for 25 companies. Many team up to win business they could not get individually. Most importantly, though, it has become a place where the ideas mentioned above happen on a small scale and then spread to the community at large.
Today, we face new challenges, but there is also new opportunity to innovate as a region and expand on what was started nearly 24 years ago.
Paul Trapani is president of LISTNet Long Island.
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This year more than any other has shown the value of technology allowing people to keep working, children to keep learning, and companies to keep doing business. But technology requires people to figure out what needs to be done, to build or create it, and then to keep it working smoothly. The people we are honoring with the Top Techie Award are some of the people on Long Island who make that happen.
What does it mean to be a Top Techie? The word “techie” has been used to describe programmers, web developers, designers, consultants, project managers, IT support specialists, network and system administrators, scientists, engineers, professors, CIOs, CTOs, CEOs and much, much more. Techies can have almost any job title and work in just about any industry. But one thing that does set them apart is that they are experts in their field. They have the technical knowledge and know-how to apply it to solve problems.
As we know from having to upgrade our phones every couple of years, technology advances quickly. Top Techies stay on top of this by continually learning. This often means reading, watching educational videos, and testing things outside of their normal working day — that is, when there’s time to do that. Sometimes, they learn on the fly to solve a new problem that cannot wait. Other times, they will be the ones to create a solution when one does not seem to exist and then share that knowledge with others.
Top Techies also understand that trends come and go. So, while they are always expanding their knowledge, they evaluate new technologies and ways of doing things before adopting them. They will research, talk to peers, and do their own testing to make sure that if they do implement new technology, things continue to run smoothly.
Finally, the number one thing that makes someone a Top Techie is that they understand that technology itself exists to make things better for people. They are the ones who channel all the collective intelligence of technology into something that can benefit a company as well as its employees and customers.
LISTnet and the Long Island Press are excited to announce the 2020 Long Island Top Techies and to thank them and all the other Top Techies for all that they do.
FRANK JACOVINO, V.P. OF OPERATIONS AND PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT, A + TECHNOLOGY & SECURITY
Frank Jacovino is Vice President Operations and Product Development for A+ Technology & Security and its parent organization Advanced Convergence Group. He oversees operational and product development and guides the strategic direction and product development for their Physical Security product lines. He is a strategic, business-focused, operational, and engineering leader with consistent success creating value from breakthrough technologies across different industries, accelerating large-scale organizational transformation and innovation while reducing risk and complexity, and inspiring organizations to develop world-class customer experiences. Frank has co-authored several patents including pending patents for the HALO IoT Smart Sensor. From 2010 to 2014 he was Vice President Worldwide Engineering for Vicon, a manufacturer of cameras and Video Management Software for the security industry. In prior years, 2001 to 2008, Mr. Jacovino was General Manager for RVSI, a manufacturer of LIDAR and machine vision software for the semiconductor industry. Mr. Jacovino joined RVSI in 1986 as a software engineer and held leadership positions of increasing responsibility in both the engineering and operations organizations. Mr. Jacovino holds BSEE and MSCS degrees from Polytechnic University.
RYAN COYNE, VICE PRESIDENT, OVERVIEW TECHNOLOGY SOLUTIONS
Long Island native Ryan J. Coyne is a tech consultant, public speaker, podcast host, and civic technology visionary who serves as the VP of IT firm Overview Technology Solutions, chief technology officer of the media-centric real estate company SERHANT. helmed by Ryan Serhant of Bravo’s Million-Dollar Listing NY, and cofounder of the branding agency Age & See.
Formerly the chief technology officer of 501(c)(3) LIINCS and special tech consultant to the Nassau County Comptroller’s Office, Coyne served on the Town of Oyster Bay local planning committee for the New York State Downtown Revitalization Initiative alongside members of the town council as the technology voice.
Ryan is currently lobbying the federal government to reimagine the USPS as a profitable modern tech giant with The New Dealivery, and successfully exited Long Island tech startup Explorify 3D in 2018 after pioneering virtual attendance with 3D capture, drones, 360° video, and virtual reality, garnering investment interest from Goldman Sachs and Foursquare.
A proud member of Summit.co since 2014, Ryan’s been a featured speaker at IBM, Herman Miller, SUNYCUAD, CRN XChange, NexGen, Douglas Elliman Summit, Bethpage FCU, SUNY Farmingdale Business School, and more.
AMANDA VIGILANTE, LEAD PROJECT MANAGER, MAXBURST, INC.
Amanda Vigilante is the Lead Project Manager at Maxburst, Inc. She oversees every project and assists her team in initiating, planning and executing the many tasks needed to achieve the goals and criteria of a successful website.
Ms. Vigilante has launched more than 200 outstanding websites, including projects that offer informational services to more advanced application program interface (API) integration. Brainstorming solutions is one of her most noteworthy assets. With more than 10 years of experience, she successfully incorporates client concerns and exceptional customer service.
Amanda lives on Long Island with her four-legged bestie – who also enjoys coming into the office to brighten up the day. She is a diehard Packers fan (Go, Pack, Go!) and plays enough foosball to keep her title as Foosball Champion. When she’s not at work, she’s hiking on a mountain, breathing in the fresh air to escape it all.
NOEL GODDARD, CEO, QUNNECT
Noel Goddard is the CEO of Qunnect, a company building a first-in-class hardware suite to enable scalable quantum communications, the foundation of the quantum internet. Qunnect’s technology is a spinout of Stony Brook University’s Quantum Information Technology Lab.
Before Qunnect, Noel was a principal with the Accelerate NY Seed Fund, an investment fund focused on commercialization of emerging technologies in the downstate region of New York State. The fund is a partnership between Accelerate Long Island, a nonprofit economic development effort (accelerateli.org) and Empire State Development, New York State’s economic development agency.
Qunnect is the third Long Island startup Noel has guided. She directed the formulation R&D for Symbiotic Health, a venture-backed startup spun out of Northwell Health, developing oral drug delivery of cellular and biologic therapeutics for diseases of the lower GI tract. Noel also founded a food safety diagnostics company in Calverton’s Food Business Incubator to develop improved pathogen testing in fresh produce.
Noel served as an assistant professor of Physics at Hunter College, CUNY, building the biophysics degree program. She performed her postdoctoral research at Harvard Medical School, and completed her Ph.D. at Rockefeller University.
KEITH STRASSBERG, CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER, CYBERSAFE SOLUTIONS
A graduate of Binghamton University, Keith is a long-time cyber veteran with a career spanning more than three decades. Keith, with his company Cybersafe Solutions, is helping businesses level the playing field against today’s advanced cyber threats. Keith also shares his cyber expertise having authored numerous books on the topic including Information Security: The Complete Reference and Firewalls: The Complete Reference. Keith serves as an advisory board member to Pace University Cybersecurity Certificate Program and prior to joining Cybersafe, he served as president and CTO for SHC Universal, Chief Cybersecurity Architect for The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America, and a Cyber Consultant for Arthur Andersen.
Cybersafe Solutions offers global clients 24/7/365 SOC-as-a-Service and Managed Detection, Response (MDR) & Containment Solutions. Cybersafe designs and implements custom programs enabling early detection of cyber threats before damage occurs. It’s not a matter of if your systems will be breached — it’s when. Threat 360, our most comprehensive MDR solution, was created with that in mind, to provide unparalleled real-time visibility, detection, response and containment across your corporate endpoints, networks and clouds.
PATRICK HUI, COX AUTOMOTIVE
We all live in a cyberworld surrounded by “big data.” Knowing how to manage and secure “data” are keys to business success. It is also the goal of Patrick Hui, who spent more than 10 years specializing in data security.
Patrick holds an engineering degree with a strong mathematical and analytical background. He is quick to adapt to different security challenges such as potential data breach, malicious insider threats, and cyberattacks. For 10 years, Patrick has focused on the data protection space, managing the Data Loss Prevention (DLP) program for corporations like Citigroup and Cox Automotive. To ensure business critical data, proprietary information and customer personal identifiable information (PII) are protected, he developed DLP polices to detect and block data exfiltration attempts, working with auditors to ensure the organization is PCI and SOC compliance. Patrick truly believes that security is everyone’s responsibility, and is enthusiastic to educate and bring security awareness to empower employees, playing a critical role to secure corporate data.
Outside of the office, Patrick enjoys outdoor activities like biking, fishing, and playing basketball. He likes to listen to music and plays guitar in his quiet time at home.
CHARLES GUARINO, FOUNDER & PRESIDENT, CENTRAL PARK DATA SYSTEMS, INC.
Charles Guarino has been an information technology consultant for the majority of his career. He is the founder and president of Central Park Data Systems, Inc. (www.centralparkdata.com), a Long Island and New York City area-based IBM I midrange consulting and corporate training company. He is also a professional speaker presenting at technical conferences and events around the world. He is a frequent contributor of articles and webcasts for the IBM I community, covering a broad range of IT topics and strategies. Charles is a member of COMMON’s (www.common.org) Speaker Excellence Hall of Fame and was recently and proudly named an IBM Champion (www.ibm.com/champion). Additionally, he currently serves on COMMON’s Strategic Education Team (SET) and is the president and monthly Q&A host of the Long Island System User’s Group LISUG (www.lisug.org). To keep the IBM I community connected, in 2020 Charles started the IBM I iChime virtual group (www.centralparkdata.com/ichime), which attracts attendees from all over the world.
DAVID BRICCA, CHIEF TECHNOLOGY OFFICER, UNITED NETWORK ASSOCIATES
David Bricca is the chief technology officer at United Network Associates with 20-plus years of professional experience in the management, design, implementation and security of complex IT systems. As an outsourced chief information officer, David acts as a consultant to ensure that the IT strategy, operations and processes align with the goals and vision of each client. He maintains and manages customer relationships responsible for United Network Associates’ continued growth. David also educates employees on deploying the latest IT solutions, using his positive attitude and tireless energy to encourage others to work hard and succeed. David is a graduate of New York Institute of Technology with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Computer Science concentrating on Distributed Information Systems and Computer Graphics. David is obsessed with all things tech-related and spends his time increasing his understanding of new innovations. David is inspired daily by his beautiful wife. In his free time, he likes to do yoga, run, and have a few drinks on a beach in the Caribbean.
AKSHAY JOSHI, INFRASTRUCTURE ENGINEER, WEBAIR
With more than a decade of experience in the IT field, Akshay Joshi’s technical expertise as an Infrastructure Engineer at Webair has been crucial for the company’s innovation and growth. As a critical member of the infrastructure team, Akshay continues to set the vision for the company’s storage and cloud services while overseeing and driving implementation. Dedicated to gaining industry knowledge and embracing emerging technologies, Akshay attends a wide range of industry conferences and spends countless hours researching and experimenting with new technologies and tools as they become relevant. Akshay’s commitment to honing his craft as an Infrastructure Engineer plays a pivotal role in Webair’s growth as a cloud and IT infrastructure provider, allowing the company to continuously innovate and adapt to the ever-changing needs of enterprise clients.
CHANDRA SHEHIGIAN, MANAGER OF INSTRUCTIONAL DESIGN & BLACKBOARD ADMINISTRATOR, SUNY OLD WESTBURY
Chandra Shehigian serves as both the Manager of Instructional Design and Blackboard administrator at SUNY Old Westbury. As the Manager of Instructional Design, Chandra is responsible for providing technological support to faculty, staff and students to facilitate the development and use of online courses. As Blackboard administrator, Chandra provides group workshops and individual lessons to faculty, staff and students to instruct them on the proper use of Blackboard and teaching in an online modality. Chandra also works with faculty and staff on a wide range of other subjects including video and development of podcasts, instructional videos and active learning classrooms.
Chandra has a Master of Arts degree in Criminal Justice from John Jay College with concentrations in Juvenile Justice, Criminology and Deviance, and Computers in Criminal Justice. She also has a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice from the University of New Haven, where she majored in Investigative Services and obtained several honors and certificates of distinction.
When away from the office, Chandra loves to spend time with her husband and two daughters and manage her Fantasy Football team.
KEITH TOBIAS, CEO, OPERATE IT, INC.
Keith Tobias has worked as a technologist and solutions provider to the residential construction trades for more than 25 years. Tobias’ CompuTool sales management platforms have empowered some of the country’s leading home renovation firms to increase efficiency and revenues through technology, providing easy-to-follow workflows designed to drastically improve the homeowner experience while automating many of the end user’s tasks.
Tobias currently serves as Chief Executive Officer of operateIT, Inc., a Long Island-based technology firm catering to kitchen and bath specialists and projects involving detailed design. Tobias’ latest product, DesignAlign, is a cutting-edge, web-based sales tool built to combat the impact of COVID-19. By assisting firms to extend their showroom to the kitchen table, DesignAlign provides a remote, highly interactive and visual budgeting exercise.
Tobias is a unique breed of technologist and subject-matter expert in residential construction management and automation. Residing on Long Island, New York, Tobias is father to a beautiful 8-year-old girl and is often enamored by her understanding of technology. When not working, Tobias is an avid boater and watersports enthusiast and enjoys all the magic Long Island summers provide.
With 10-plus years of college-level teaching experience, Mr. Marsicano can be found in the engineering lab where he assists students with the implementation of their design projects and lab experiments. He maintains more than eight engineering labs, plus the Data and Cyber Centers for faculty research.
Mr. Marsicano holds a master’s degree in Electrical/ Computer Engineering and a bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering, both from NYIT.
MICHAEL MASER, CHIEF TECHNOLOGY OFFICER, UOTECH.CO
Michael Maser is an entrepreneur and technology leader with more than 18 years of experience building and supporting technology environments in Northeastern corporations and startups. He bases his solutions on three core tenants – they must be robust, scalable, and repeatable.
Michael’s technology know-how is partnered with a deep understanding of business process and standards, an ability to communicate technical ideas and procedure to experts and laypeople alike, and an awareness of compliance and security practices that protect the intellectual property of project stakeholders.
Michael is currently the chief technology officer of UOTech.co, a managed service provider (MSP) startup offering a subscription-based IT platform-as-a-service, unlimited helpdesk access, full enterprise-grade antivirus and security platform, and cloud service enablement, all for a fixed monthly rate. UOTech.co supports organizations in achieving their missions by handling technology management and compliance so they can focus on their core business.
Before founding UOTech.co with COO Shreena Bindra, Michael was IT Director at Allied Physicians Group and Adjuvant.Health from 2018 to 2019 and IT Director at Rosicki, Rosicki, & Associates, P.C. from 2010 to 2018. His early career included the managed information systems supervisor role at Manhattan Beer Distributors and various presales and implementation roles at InfiNet Business Systems and Square-9 Softworks.
JOHN MANTZ, WEB APPLICATION DESIGNER & FRONT-END DEVELOPER, DR. LEONARDO
While John wears many hats at Dr. Leonardo, his most notable is that of web application designer and front-end developer.
Working closely with CEO Jack Pellman over the last five years, John has taken pride in learning the ins and outs of the website business while continuing to hone his craft as a user experience designer.
With the goal of getting his own internet marketing business off the ground and running, John is truly humbled by this recognition, and hopes it will serve as a sign of good things to come.
MICHAEL GILLIN, DIRECTOR OF INFORMATION SERVICES, STONY BROOK SOUTHAMPTON HOSPITAL
Michael Gillin is currently the Director of Information Services for Stony Brook Southampton Hospital, and has responsibility for all technology services provided there, and to numerous other facilities on Long Island’s South Fork. Mr. Gillin joined the hospital as the Assistant Director of Information Services in spring 2013. He joined with a wealth of IT experience, and previously held lead roles at IBM Global Service and as the IT Support Officer for the United Kingdom Mission to the United Nations. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in Computer Science from Iona College and a master’s degree in Healthcare Analytics from the University of South Florida, Morisani College of Medicine.
Mr. Gillin has also been recognized by the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society as a Certified Professional in Healthcare Information and Management Systems.
In his spare time, Michael is an avid photographer and enjoys traveling the globe.
NEW YORK INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
In March 2020, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, New York Tech moved to virtual instruction for the remainder of the spring semester while also preparing to reopen its New York City and Long Island campuses for the fall semester. The official start of the fall semester on Sept. 9 for undergraduate and graduate students was the result of months of preparations to ensure a safe and successful start, regardless of whether students would be studying on campus, virtually, or a blend of both. The Client Support Services Team represents New York Tech’s first responders for IT through its:
Flexibility and responsiveness to providing and supporting the technology needed to address a continuously changing set of circumstances
Unwavering commitment to solution-driven approaches that is meeting individual and institutional needs
Empathy and patience with the faculty, students and staff who needed to quickly learn new technologies so that they could continue to teach, learn and work online
JUSTIN LA SOTTEN, ENTERPRISE ARCHITECT, FRAGRANCE.COM
Justin is the Enterprise Architect for Fragrance.com. For more than 15 years Justin has provided technical solutions and guidance for all facets of the business. Justin works closely with business stakeholders, including the C-suite, to help them realize their goals. He understands what drives the business and what its needs are and is able to help them understand what is possible with technology.
Justin has a passion for technology and has led the company to embrace cloud computing, DevOps architecture, and open source. He is currently leading the charge in shifting to container-based computing.
In his spare time, Justin writes code, tinkers with electronics, and dabbles in electronic music. He lives in Ronkonkoma with his wife Nicole, daughter Rebekah, and cat Jean-Luc.
At Long Island Software & Technology Network, or LISTnet for short, one of the things we often hear from executives is how hard it is to hire the tech people they need. This is true for companies anywhere, but in addition to other challenges, local companies must also deal with the allure of New York City, especially for younger workers.
When it looked like Amazon was heading to our area, most local technology leaders saw it as positive overall. It was an opportunity to attract more attention to our region as a technology hub. One shared concern, though, was that Amazon would be hiring many tech people, potentially making it harder for LI companies to hire the people they needed.
Though Amazon changed its plans, companies like Google, Facebook, and Microsoft are continuing to expand in the City and others will surely follow. As could have been the case with Amazon, this can be a good thing if it helps enhance the growing perception of the New York metro area overall as a technology hub. Hopefully, this will attract more students to area colleges, universities and trade schools, with the net result that some of those students choose to live and work on the Island.
For Long Island schools to attract those students, they need to be aware of local companies and the potential opportunities they have. Companies can build this awareness by engaging with students at LI colleges, universities and trade schools. The best time to do this is while the students are still in school. Companies that start their recruiting efforts only after graduation may find that a student took a job with a company they did an internship with or a company that visited campus when that student was a sophomore.
Companies can and should look to build relationships with the Island’s students and schools. This includes hiring interns, participating in co-op programs, or externships. This also includes taking opportunities to participate in events and speak at these schools when possible.
Part of what we do at LISTnet is help our member companies make these types of connections with the local schools. We also help provide feedback to the schools from our members, about what they are looking for in graduates. The overall goal is to create two-way connections between business and academia that can help to grow the Long Island tech ecosystem.
In addition to my role as president of LISTnet, I run a software and technology consulting company. As a consultant, part of what I do is help people find the right software to run and grow their businesses. There are a lot of things to consider.
What technology is the software built on? How scalable is it? Is there good documentation and training? How does this fit into the rest of the technology the company is running? Will it be running in the cloud or on site? How will it be managed and updated?
Those and other requirements are crucial to evaluate. There is, however, another very important consideration. It’s easy to fall in love with the technology and be wowed by the latest and greatest features. But the most critical factor is the people that will be doing the work.
It’s important when looking for technology solutions to get to know the actual people behind it. Are they reliable and trustworthy? Will they be there for you if things go wrong? Who are the people running the company and what’s their background? Will you be able to reach an executive or developer if necessary?
One of the biggest benefits of LISTnet is getting to know people that can help grow your business. When you need something, you have a network of people to reach out to. Also, these people all have a bunch of connections themselves and can connect you to reliable vendors they work with.
Of course, not everyone is part of LISTnet, yet, so you should get to know vendors in other ways. The best way, if possible, is to meet in person. Have lunch with them. Don’t just talk about the business stuff, but get to know them. If in person is not possible, spend some time talking by phone or Skype.
Ask to talk to other people in the company. Talk to the people that wrote the software and the people that will be supporting it. Talk to a few of their customers. Talk until you have a good sense of the people and factor that into your buying decision. Also, a good relationship flows in both directions, make sure you follow up on any promises you make.
The right tech helps a business serve their customers better and grow. But it’s people that create and manage the technology. Those people will be the ones that make the difference between a solution that works and one that creates problems instead of solving them. Take some time to get know the people you will be depending on.