Supporting Women in IT

Universal Technologies
Written by Claire Suttles

Universal Technologies is a woman-owned IT consulting firm focused on servicing the government sector, primarily in New York City. The company provides projects, personnel, and solutions to deliver well-designed, well-managed, secure, and stable infrastructure and computing environments. This wide range of services and products covers everything from individual jobs to enterprise-wide solutions.

The company’s areas of expertise include software development, project management, program management, business analysis, system administration, and systems architecture. Current and past clients include NYC Department of Education, New York State Department of Labor, New York City Fire Department, NYC Administration for Children’s Services, New York City Department of Sanitation, NYC Department of Social Services, NYC Office of Technology and Innovation, NYC Employees’ Retirement System, MTA, Port Authority of NY NJ, New York City Department of Transportation, NYC Office of Payroll Administration, and NYC Mayor’s Office of Contract Services.

The company’s secret to winning these coveted government contracts is straightforward. “Our customer service is focused on providing good people,” says Operations Coordinator Renee Dufek. “The easiest way to get a second look and have a competitive edge in our business is to just do good work. We try to leverage everything that we can, all the recruitment tools to best satisfy them,” she explains.

This tactic includes listening carefully to clients in order to understand their unique requirements so the team can deliver the best talent for their specific job. “Our approach with customer service is to provide exactly what our clients need,” Dufek summarizes.

Clients know they can rely on Universal Technologies’ twenty years of experience and network building to find the right match for them. And the Universal Technologies’ team knows they can rely on the predictability of the government sector, making the relationship a win-win. “The processes are set in place and that is one of the benefits of working in the government sector,” Dufek shares. “Things are straightforward and they [follow] a process, not only for simplicity, but it’s mandated. The government has many protocols for the vendors that they work with so that there are fair ways of doing things. And it eases our process on the back end as well because we know what to expect.”

As a woman-owned business, Universal Technologies enjoys a strong relationship with many government clients, but that is only the beginning of the advantages of woman leadership. “Being woman-owned definitely has its advantages when you work in the government sector because there are certain initiatives that aim to help women-owned businesses and minority-owned businesses,” Dufek says. “But more importantly, being in the IT world and being woman-owned and woman-led—it’s mostly women at our small office—goes a long way in being able to relate to women in IT in general.”

This ability to relate to women who work within the industry is critical to recruiting and retaining top talent. “A lot of the consultants we hire are women,” says Dufek. “I believe the reason for that is that they can relate. They feel like they’re working with a company, and they’re being employed by a company, that they can trust because they know that we’re people who have gone through the same things as them in a mostly male-dominated industry. So I think that’s a big connection for us and it helps us employ very talented IT professionals.”

The desire to support women goes beyond the business benefits; it is also a key component of the company culture. “I think it is important to have women represented in today’s market,” says Dufek. “[It goes] back to our company culture.”

This company culture also focuses on hiring young people. “We do have a lot of young professionals working for us and we’re trying to continue that. It’s the way of the future, bringing in young talent and people whose growth we can foster as the company grows too. I think that plays into both the culture and the woman-owned piece; we certainly need to understand what young professionals are looking for in a prospective employer and try to fit into that mold.” With its strong emphasis on positive work-life balance and representing women within the IT field, Universal Technologies fits this mold remarkably well.

The company’s size also helps cultivate close relationships and makes it possible to maintain core values. “We have a very small, tight-knit group that works very well together,” Dufek says. “The company culture is pretty unique, especially in comparison to a lot of our competitors. We are smaller in the industry, so that means that we work in a really small office. We know each other personally. Everyone works together and it creates a family atmosphere. We have lunch together, we talk about what we did last night, we ask about each other’s families at home. That’s part of what I like about being in a small, people-centered office. It feels like a family. And I think a lot of places say that, but we actually carry it out at our headquarters.”

The company’s relatively small size also helps the team stay light on their feet. “It allows us to be a little bit more flexible, a little bit more adaptable,” Dufek says. “There aren’t as many company memos going around; it’s talking face-to-face. It’s being able to brainstorm together. It’s being able to make changes when we need them and then celebrate the wins together. It’s very fun to work here.”

After two decades of growth and success, Universal Technologies continues to move forward, while holding on to the unique qualities that have made the company thrive. “As we move into the new year and beyond, we want to grow our partnerships,” Dufek says. “That’s something that, in this industry, goes a long way. In the consulting business, there are always new vendors you can work with, new subcontractors, new consulting firms that we can partner with for both the government sector as well as the private sector too.”

After finding success through a focus on the public sector, the team is open to expanding into new opportunities within the private sector. “Obviously government is our primary focus currently, but expanding beyond New York City and New York state” is a viable option, Dufek says, especially with the rapidly shifting, post-pandemic work environment. “This really is a global workforce at this point, with remote work situations and everything on the forefront since 2020. We’re just looking to diversify a little bit more.”

Diversification could even mean expanding beyond an exclusive focus on IT. “Our bread and butter is IT, but that’s not to say that it always has to be,” Dufek says. “We’re willing to branch out into other industries both public and private.” As the team explores new opportunities, they will work hard to maintain their tight-knit company culture and to keep representing women in whatever industries they pursue.



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