Vegas Inc and Cox Business present the 2023 Top Tech Awards


Fri, Nov 10, 2023 (2 a.m.)

Vegas Inc, in partnership with Cox business, presents the 2023 Top Tech Awards. Technology facilitates so many aspects of modern life, from business to education to government. The information technology professionals and innovators honored here are at the forefront of the tech industry in their respective fields. They support and connect the community every day and make Southern Nevada proud.  

Award recipients were selected by an independent panel of judges based on their achievements, company and community impact, and major projects. 

Top Tech of the Year: Bob Leek

CIO | Clark County IT

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Bob Leek

Bob Leek’s team of technology professionals is the largest team of its kind in Southern Nevada. Clark County IT has a team of tech professionals working in development, analysis, quality assurance, project management, cybersecurity, infrastructure, data center operations, cloud platforms, help desk and field support, and leadership. The team is updating technology across the county to address problems ranging from elections to juvenile justice to land use and planning.

Leek’s skills go beyond technological solutions. He leads collaboratively, trying to understand problems and opportunities with a diverse, equitable and inclusive approach encompassing his teams, their partners and the public. He often speaks in government conferences, cross-industry settings and small groups. He doesn’t only seek to teach, but also always looks to learn from others.

Currently, Leek is working to implement four concepts – Resident360, Business360, Visitor360 and Employee360 – into Clark County. Clark County IT will work with local organizations and jurisdictions throughout the county to provide a central resource with available services wherever possible. These concepts would allow individuals to access information from government service providers with ease.

Leek is also the president of the Society for Information Management Las Vegas Chapter. This organization focuses on developing technology skills across dozens of organizations in Southern Nevada. Additionally, he is on the advisory council for Tech Impact and the advisory board for the technology program at UNLV. With dedication to the community he serves, he also leads a group of cross-jurisdictional teams from other governments in the State of Nevada to bring high-speed, affordable internet to every resident and business in the state.

Cox Innovation Award: Chris Conrad

Senior Analytics Engineer | HCA Healthcare

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Chris Conrad

Chris Conrad has embarked on a mission to streamline healthcare processes using technology and innovation. Implementation of online tools and electronic systems have aided in patient care, employee retention, procedure automation, patient safety, effective management and business strategy — contributing to a better care experience for healthcare patients, caregivers and administrators.

Conrad introduced the Inpatient Master View Dashboard that centralizes patient information like medical status, treatment plans and pending tests, proactively highlights milestones for safe and timely discharge, encourages collaboration across hospital departments, provides real-time patient status updates and accumulates data on recurring issues leading to process improvement. He also created the HR Retention Dashboard. This dashboard uses surveys, feedback mechanisms and sentiment analysis to gauge employee engagement, tracks training completion rates and career progression data to evaluate performance, tracks turnover rates and evaluates workplace satisfaction and manager effectiveness to pinpoint areas for improvement.

Automation projects, such as ER Wait Time website validation and Meditech Order Set Migration automation, are examples of how healthcare systems can streamline processes and elevate patient care by harnessing technology.

Conrad’s leadership is cultivating an ecosystem of innovation within the HCA Far West Division. This has allowed novel ideas and technologies to take root, sparking cross-company collaborations and encouraging advancements across the healthcare industry. His example of patient-first innovation is reshaping operational efficiency and the healthcare experience across the entire HCA Healthcare enterprise.

Community Exemplary Award: Alyssa Rodriguez

Director of Information Technology | City of Henderson

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Alyssa Rodriguez

The City of Henderson is projected to increase its population by nearly 70,000 residents in the next 10 years. As a growing municipality – and currently the second largest city in the state – Henderson has attracted leaders who see its potential for progress. One such leader is Alyssa Rodriguez, the city’s director of Information Technology.

Rodriguez is committed to the community, evidenced by her current plan which is focused on community safety, livable communities, economic vitality, quality education and high-performing public services. She has implemented cutting-edge technology to make the community safer. Her championing of the deployment of advanced surveillance systems, predictive policing algorithms and intelligent traffic management systems has led to a significant decline in crime rates and engendered a sense of security and trust in the community.

The use of sensor technology has played a vital role in making the City of Henderson a more livable community. Henderson has begun transformation into a smart city by utilizing data analytics and citizen engagement platforms leading to efficient waste management, optimized public transportation and enhanced energy conservation.

By prioritizing the most progressive technology, Rodriguez can better serve the members of the community. She has spearheaded projects to provide digital learning tools to local students and partnered with Henderson schools and educational institutions to ensure that all students have access to Wi-Fi, empowering Southern Nevada’s youth to succeed in school.

Hotel/Gaming Industry: Ramesh Srinivasan

President and Chief Executive Officer | Agilysys

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Ramesh Srinivasan

Agilysys is known for innovative, hospitality-focused technology for some of the largest gaming, hotel, resort, university, stadium and health care organizations in the world. Under Ramesh Srinivasan’s leadership, the mission, scope and impact of Agilysys continues to expand.

Srinivasan has demonstrated leadership success in technology, enterprise software and general management across multiple industries, with an impressive track record of sustainable, long-term growth. At Agilysys, he and his team develop modern, cloud-native product offerings that operators use to provide exceptional guest experiences. With a robust library of property management systems, Agilysys offers unmatched solutions for their clients.

Beyond impeccable client experience, Srinivasan also emphasizes support for employees, suppliers and shareholders. This strategy has yielded improved financial returns, increased leadership confidence, and continued stability for the company. He is known for being a hands-on leader who champions adversity and never lets challenges stand in his way.

Srinivasan dedicates his time to the Las Vegas community as well as to his home-country of India. In Southern Nevada, he is a member of the Enterprise Software CEO Roundtable, a board member of the Economic Club of Las Vegas and of the Las Vegas India Chamber of Commerce & Tourism, a member of Akshaya Patra Foundation, and donates to Project 150. He helps support schools in India and donates to Texas50, an organization with the mission of drilling 50 wells in Africa.

Education : Mugunth Vaithylingam

Chief Information Officer | College of Southern Nevada

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Mugunth Vaithylingam

The College of Southern Nevada aims to empower their students and community to achieve, succeed and prosper. Mugunth Vaithylingam, Chief Information Officer of CSN, is leading the local college’s education system into the future by incorporating customer relationship management software in the student experience.

Vaithylingam partnered with Frequency Foundry to implement greymatter, an AI-powered CRM that helps meet CSN’s strategic plan for student success. Greymatter is the world’s first full student lifecycle CRM. It won the Microsoft Innovation in Education award. Using this new CRM, CSN can identify individual learning patterns and predict risks.

As a leader, Vaithylingam has developed a reputation for thinking outside of the box and developing strategic partnerships with outside entities to improve productivity and reduce expenses. His leadership and service have earned him several awards including Evanta’s Most Influential CIO Award and the CIO 100.

He also champions opportunities for students to learn real-world skills and gain practical experience while earning their degrees. Work-study opportunities help students find professional mentors and earn money to assist with living expenses and educational costs. Vaithylingam also works to reduce stigma and campaigns to embrace a neurodivergent workforce. In the community he organizes food drives, reads to inner-city youth and volunteers at local charity events. Additionally, he sponsors 47 children in India who have been abandoned by their parents in an initiative that also rescues young people from human trafficking.

Government: Doug Neumann

Deputy CIO | Nevada National Security Site

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Doug Neumann

The Nevada National Security Site falls under the jurisdiction of the National Nuclear Security administration, an agency of the U.S. Department of Energy, and aids in the protection of our nation’s safety — right in Las Vegas’ backyard. To support the security of the United States and its allies, the NNSS supports the stewardship of the nation’s nuclear deterrent, provides emergency response capabilities and training in case of nuclear or radiological emergency, contributes to nonproliferation and arms control initiatives, and executes national-level experiments in support of the National Laboratories.

As the Deputy Chief Information Officer, Doug Neumann contributes to national security by developing and deploying new capabilities and updating the technological infrastructure of the NNSS. In 2022 Neumann secured $2.2 million to utilize Commercial Solutions for Classified technologies. These technologies had been used within the Department of Defense but had not been effectively integrated into the Department of Energy and the National Nuclear Security Administration. By using this capability, the NNSS will be able to bypass expensive and time-consuming efforts to set up classified compute capabilities and allow them to take on classified missions more seamlessly.

Neumann is a strong proponent of sustainability. In 2022, he ensured that IT purchased products were Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool certified. By prioritizing purchasing environmentally positive products, the NNSS reduced greenhouse gases by 482,000 kilograms and saved more than two million kilowatt hours of energy.

Nonprofit: Al Prendergast

Chief Information Officer | Las Vegas-Clark County Library District

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Al Prendergast

The Las Vegas – Clark County Library District Foundation supports the library district by pursuing resources and partnerships that elevate the library district's goals and work toward the well-being of people and communities in Southern Nevada. Programs offered by the foundation and its 17 community partners include connecting children ages 0-5 with brain-building resources at branch libraries, at home and at a variety of outreach sites; a free after-school tutoring program available at eight library locations with help from CCSD teachers and UNLV students; and free Teen Tech Labs that provide opportunities for local youth to learn coding, robotics, digital media production and innovative thinking among other skills.

Al Prendergast, the CIO of the library district, has strategically used technology to expand internet access to library patrons across Clark County. In partnership with Cox Communications, individuals with a library card can check out a barcode from any one of over 25 locations that gives them access to a free Cox Wi-Fi hotspot. This creative solution allows underserved communities to be connected to the internet for school, work and communication. With more than 49,000 hotspots available for checkout, more than 10,000 people have been able to access the internet when they may have otherwise been unable.

Beyond technical expertise, Prendergast exhibits leadership by fostering a culture of continuous learning and innovation, encouraging team members to stay up to date with industry standards and trends. He also has a gift for identifying opportunities for improvement and finding creative technological solutions. Under his guidance, the Las Vegas – Clark County Library District Foundation is growing to meet the needs of an ever-evolving tech world and a bustling community.

Healthcare Industry: Jennifer Aguilar

Manager of Information Systems | HCA Healthcare

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Jennifer Aguilar

Jennifer Aguilar has a long history in the health care industry. She originally joined the team at Sunrise Hospital & Medical Center 17 years ago as a nurse, and her passion to serve others led her to managing systems in the Labor and Delivery department for the electronic health record system. She went on to join the IT team where she has worked for the past seven years. As a skilled IT professional with a clinical nurse background, Aguilar seeks to improve patient care and make a lasting impact for physicians, nurses and others.

Today, Aguilar leads a team responsible for supporting the electronic health record system for the HCA Healthcare Far West Division, that includes eight hospitals in Southern Nevada and California. Her team ensures an efficient physician workflow, meeting regulatory requirements and maintaining the highest quality of patient care.

Aguilar regularly demonstrates commitment to her team, a thoughtfulness to individual development and a willingness to go above and beyond her typical duties. Recently, she volunteered to travel to an HCA sister facility in New Hampshire, where she supported the implementation of a new electronic health record system. This project required more than 60 hours of prior training and multiple 12-hour shifts to support the facility and clinicians. She is solution-focused, eager to help and always driving toward the betterment of any project she’s involved with.

Startup Company: Anand Nandakumar

Founder and CEO | Halo Car

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Anand Nandakumar

Halo.Car is car rentals like you’ve never seen them before. Offering rental prices by hour or by day on its easy-to-use website, Halo.Car delivers electric vehicles directly to customers almost anywhere in the Las Vegas Valley. It also facilitates no-hassle returns. The car can be parked anywhere in the city and will be collected by when the customer is finished.

Founder and CEO Anand Nandakumar started Halo.Car as just a one-man team with a big idea – to change the world from gas vehicles to electric. Now as an expanding business with a thriving team, Halo.Car provides an all-electric rental-car service with state-of-the-art technology including remote piloting powered by T-Mobile 5G. Remote piloting enables employees to safely drive vehicles from thousands of miles away while maintaining the trust of consumers who may not be comfortable with the risks of fully driverless transportation capabilities.

With safety as a priority, Halo.Car sought and received approval from the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles to operate on public roads. Vehicles also use special algorithms to leverage the strongest network connection available at any time and are equipped to independently come to a controlled full stop in emergency situations.

Nandakumar works closely with local government authorities as well as technology partners and clean energy groups to remain at the forefront of research, legislation and innovation. His sincere enthusiasm for building a sustainable future and providing reliable transportation inspires his team and invigorates the business.

Private SMB (small and medium business): Jimmy Jacobson

Chief Technology Officer | Codingscape

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Jimmy Jacobson

The mission of software company Codingscape is to “deliver technical excellence efficiently with happy, remote-first teams.” The Las Vegas based tech agency was founded in 2018 by Jimmy Jacobson, who believes in Nevada tech talent and makes a concerted effort to share that knowledge in the tech community.

Jacobson inspires his team with his persistent curiosity and innovation. With the recent advancement of artificial intelligence, Codingscape has created custom Large Language Models, a specialized kind of AI, to increase engineer productivity. These LLMs allow engineers to spend less time doing tasks that AI bots can do for them and more time focusing on the creative problem solving that only they can do.

When another company laid off hundreds of tech workers in 2022, Jacobson fought to keep local talent in Las Vegas by helping to place individuals in need with local companies when possible and elsewhere when not. His passion for this community has been demonstrated time and time again as he aims to develop the best tech talent here in Southern Nevada.

As a leader, Jacobson excels by going above and beyond for both his team and his clients. He is flexible in his opinions and willing to change direction when better options become available. This allows for dynamic business strategies. Codingscape keeps pace with constant progress in an ever-changing field, meeting challenges with curiosity and inventive solutions.

Private Large Business: Brittany Rodriguez

System Security Administrator | Vegas Golden Knights / Foley Entertainment Group

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Brittany Rodriguez

Brittany Rodriguez is an analytical, composed leader who is constantly finding opportunities to optimize workflow and security. In the last year, Rodriguez increased her team’s overall security score by implementing cybersecurity training to userbases in Las Vegas and Henderson, deployed a secure password manager throughout the organization, and emphasized the importance of cybersecurity awareness for all users.

Rodriguez administers IT support for the Vegas Golden Knights’ coaching, scouting and hockey administration staff, so she is often tasked with finding unique and creative solutions to assist staff traveling internationally. She has also helped support IT initiatives during acquisitions, including traveling offsite to conduct email migrations and deploying networking equipment. With a thoughtful and measured approach, Rodriguez has completed three successful acquisitions in the last year.

Rodriguez is involved in several organizations dedicated to helping and mentoring others. She is a member of WISE—Women In Sports and Events—that provides mentorship and resources to women in the sports industry. Following another professional passion, she is active with WiCyS, an organization that advances women working in cybersecurity. Rodriguez also looks for other volunteer opportunities, including through the Vegas Golden Knights Foundation, where she recently prepared back-to-school packages for teachers in partnership with the Public Education Foundation.

Public Company: Joshua Bellendir

Chief Information Officer | WH Smith North America

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Joshua Bellendir

With more than 20 years of experience in IT, Joshua Bellendir leads with a passion for technology and delivering cutting-edge solutions. Bellendir is the Chief Information Officer at WH Smith North America, a leading global retailer with more than 1,700 stores across 30 countries worldwide. During a time of incredible growth for the organization, Bellendir has been instrumental in supporting and maintaining a smooth, efficient customer experience.

This last year, Bellendir led his team in deploying Oracle’s Merchandise Financial Planning Cloud Service across all locations in only 16 weeks—a task that enabled better technological services to optimize sales in all stores. He also played a critical role in the rollout of self-checkout technologies at several locations across the United States. With an eye for innovation and the drive to improve user experiences, Bellendir continues to push forward with high-impact, customer-focused solutions.

Described by colleagues as a change agent, Bellendir encourages strategic thinking, innovation and action, while clearly communicating expectations. He is a consummate IT professional who has held senior leadership positions at other global companies including Fast Retailing and Deloitte.

Bellendir spends his free time writing blog posts about technology and business and is the founder of two large LinkedIn groups—Fashion Asia and Global Trade & Supply Chain Professionals. Even outside of work, Bellendir works to bring people together through technology.

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