This is Technical.ly’s How I Work series: Remote Edition, in which we ask some of Philly’s remote workers — seasoned and new — about their routines and tips for staying productive. If you’d like to be a part of this series, email us: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Brigitte Daniel is busy always: The Fairmount-based EVP of Fort Washington’s Wilco Electronic Systems and a SmartCityPHL Appointed Advisory committee member is also a multifaceted advocate for increased digital access and diversity in tech and entrepreneurship.
Since the pandemic hit, she hasn’t slowed down her commitment to supporting women entrepreneurs — her org Mogulette takes up as many as 25 hours of her time per week — and keeping her family’s 40-plus-year-old cable company innovating.
Daniel told Technical.ly about her new normal, including how she unplugs and how she’s thinking about closing the digital divide at a time when access to the internet “is life,” as she puts it.
You’re the EVP of Wilco Electronic Solutions, as well as an advocate for digital access. Give us a brief overview of what that means, and what your day-to-day work looks like?
For over 40 years, Wilco has been dedicated to providing cable television and security access services to underserved communities as well as multifamily housing, commercial and industrial real estate facilities. As one of the last African American cable companies, we garnered a longstanding history of providing affordable cable television to low-income communities throughout the Greater Philadelphia region. After the acquisition of our cable division to Comcast in 2018, we are continuing the family legacy by pivoting our expertise in security access and low-voltage wiring design towards the integration and development of cloud-based security surveillance and access control technologies, IoT (Internet of Things), and smart home and building automation platforms.
As a designated essential business, we have been able to remain open during the pandemic and still serve our clients. So most days recently have been focused on making sure our team are protected and those who are in need, we are still able to service and sustain.
However, a continuing day-to-day task is the absolute growth of our integration services while still instilling our 40-year mission to address digital disparities. Because what I love about this industry, especially during these difficult times, is that IoT and access control technologies has the ability to create a new type of skilled workforce. A workforce that combines a knowledge of high-tech software platforms and the construction and retrofitting of homes and buildings. And this is important, more now ever, since the protection and preservation of communities and buildings will be key to how we move forward as a nation and a city.
What’s the first thing you do every day before doing any biz-related work?
Recently, morning stretches along with mobile reading of trade articles on all things access control, security surveillance, IoT, and Prop Tech and how they can help solve our most pressing world problems start my day. Then I gradually, sometimes unwillingly, shift towards skimming current events. But the most exciting new routine has been morning dance parties with my precocious toddler who has figured out she can sing, create her own songs, and has killer dance moves for days. She is my happy place, especially now.
What’s your gear and current workspace setup?
Since we were able to remain open as an essential business, this has kept me very busy, even more so, since we had to also begin homeschooling our daughter and I had to travel frequently between home, our Wilco offices and occasional site visits, all of course while practicing complete social distancing and donning PPE. However, when I am working remote from home, casual attire, multiple laptops and devices screens are fully on deck along with crayons, glitter and tons and tons of tutus.
When you need to take a break, what are you turning to?
For the last few months, the communal healing via Instagram DJ dance parties has been life saving. Specifically, DJ DNICE, DJSpinna and a host of other epic artists, events and new artistic inspirations has uplifted the world and our collective spirits. Both my husband and I have been long time fans of DNice, however the phrase a DJ saved my life, has never rung so true. The use of tech platforms by these artists to innovatively reach audiences and souls, has become our permanent good time/break time.
How much time per week do you spend on your many projects that aren’t part of your full-time job?
About 20 to 25 hours a week I dedicate to Mogulette, an organization committed to diversifying and expanding the reach of opportunities for women, particularly women of color, within technology ecosystems.
For the last six months we have been excited to partner with the University City Science Center in building the inaugural Launch Lane PHL accelerator program. We solidified and announced our first cohort and have been diligently working with these awesome entrepreneurs since early March. We are also in the midst of pivoting and planning for our annual Women In Tech Soiree for later in the year.
Although these times are challenging we are excited to charter new ways of bringing people together especially around the focus of new lifelines of leadership and healthcare innovation. Digital health platforms will be key to addressing health disparities and accelerating telemedicine solutions critical to reaching those who are most vulnerable during this time.
The digital divide has been brought to the forefront in recent weeks, thanks to the shift to stay-at-home orders and an increased reliance on internet access to stay connected. What are you thinking about most these days, in relation to the divide?
All of the world’s disparities are being magnified at levels we haven’t seen this apparent in years. And again, the one disparity that still continues to haunt and cripple, but is still yet critical to how we survive and adapt to our “new normal” is the digital divide.
So in 2020, the digital divide is the barrier to obtain and participate in proper distance learning, which is the only way that students and schools are now operating and sustaining. In 2020, the digital divide is the difference between those who have access to telemedicine services, thus some type of adequate healthcare, and those who do not. In 2020, having access to the internet means you are able to have a safer way of getting meals, groceries, news, communicating with loved ones, working from home remotely and thus earning a living just to survive and raise families.
In 2020, the world is proving again that the internet is not a luxury, but a utility to be and stay alive, well and connected. It’s more than even a civil right. The internet, or the lack thereof, is life.