Dallas Innovates and D CEO magazine teamed up to present The Innovation Awards 2020, a new program honoring companies and leaders—CEOs, CIOs, CTOs, entrepreneurs, and others—driving innovation in North Texas.
Here are the winners and finalists for Corporate Innovator of the Year.
W I N N E R
Senior Vice President, Samsung Electronics America
As a senior executive and product lead, Alanna Cotton oversees everything from wearables and tablets to portable audio and virtual reality for Samsung Electronics America, one of the largest tech companies in the world. Her impact is global but is especially strong in North Texas, where the company has more than 1,000 employees. Cotton has played a key role in bringing cutting-edge technologies to the marketplace. In the past year alone, Cotton led the launch of 12 Samsung products that continue to push the envelope, including the Galaxy Tab S6 and the Galaxy Watch Active2, which lets users monitor their health and wellness in real time. “The best innovation out there will empower people to live their best lives,” she says. One of the highest-ranking African-American women in the industry, Cotton makes it a priority to encourage a diversity of thought and perspectives in technology. She leads the Women in Samsung Electronics initiative, which helps bring women to the decision-making table. “The ability to unleash the power of this portion of our workforce in ways that we haven’t been able to before has been extremely rewarding,” Cotton says. The Mississippi native has had roles at PepsiCo and Procter & Gamble in other markets but has found Dallas-Fort Worth especially welcoming. “It is a great place for inspiring innovators.”—Will Maddox
F I N A L I S T S
The CTO for financial services at Capital One, Arjun Dugal leads the technology teams within the division, as well as DataLabs, a specialized organization within Capital One that builds industrial-scale data products across the enterprise, and The Garage, Capital One’s innovation center, which is located in Dallas-Fort Worth. Last year, Dugal’s organization submitted nearly 100 patents, ranging from augmented reality capabilities and artificial intelligence systems to customer sentiment prediction methods. “In order to unleash the full power of creativity and develop groundbreaking innovations, I firmly believe we have to get comfortable with discomfort,” he says. “Once we shift our mindset to escape the boundaries of familiar things and embrace the discomfort associated with the unknown, we expose our minds to new ideas and possibilities. This enables us to trail blaze into areas where there are no blueprints of roadmaps—but a wealth of opportunity waiting to be discovered.” —Brandon Call
Paola Arbour is a woman of action. An executive vice president and the CIO, she joined the Dallas-based healthcare company in July 2018 after spending much of her career serving CIOs at consumer product companies like EDS, HP, and Dell. Within the first 90 days on the job with Tenet, Arbour had visited almost 50 acute care hospitals to asses IT needs on the ground. Thanks to her heavy lifting, Arbour detailed 30-, 60-, and 90-day plans to transform the technology systems for all of Tenet’s 65 acute and specialty care hospitals across nine states—and implemented—with zero impact to continuous patient care. —Brandon Call
There is a whiteboard in Heidi Soltis-Berner’s office. One quote is written across the top. She put it there on her first day at Deloitte University. It is credited to Lao Tzu: “A leader is best when people barely know she exists, when her work is done, her aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves.” Since taking over the helm of Deloitte University in August 2016, Soltis-Berner leads efforts at the 107-acre property in Westlake with an eye toward servant leadership and empowering those around her. Soltis-Berner is tasked with building a high-performing talent network and preparing the next generation of leaders at Deloitte, while employing innovative solutions to shaping talent. In her 23-year career with Deloitte that started as an intern, Soltis-Berner has shepherded the organization that has brought robotics, holograms, and digital reality to its 350,000 learners. Soltis-Berner describes her successes implementing innovative technologies this way: “At Deloitte, we are proud of our accomplishments, but never satisfied. There is always opportunity to make things better.” —Brandon Call
E X P L O R E M O R E
Click each link below to take a closer look at each finalist in all 13 categories.
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