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Women in technology

The Women of Topcon

We like to say that we are trailblazers and innovators passionate about developing solutions that improve and enrich people’s lives. In other words, we don’t wait for the future, we invent it.

For Women in Construction Week and International Women’s Day, we highlighted just some of the many women at Topcon who make a difference every day. Their stories received such a great response that we will be profiling more of our amazing employees throughout the year.

Please enjoy the stories by scrolling through each of the profiles below and visit again for more.

Jackie Ferreira

Senior Director, Corporate Communications and Brand

Beginning her career at Topcon in 2016, she began her role as Director of Corporate Communications and Brand, subsequently promoted to Sr. Director in 2021 when the Analytics Team was added to the Communications group.

She served on the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) Vision 2040 taskforce and is a member of the American Association of University Women (AAUW). 

Jackie has served as Sr. Director of Corporate Communications previously at two global ophthalmic companies for over 12 years and as Director of Marketing Communications in global cardiac and radiology medical device companies for 8 years.  Previously, she has held positions in Product Management, and as Training Manager for 12 years.  Her corporate experience is with large companies such as Siemens and Zeiss, as well as with start ups (Oraya Thereapeutics) and mid size companies.

During her career she has worked with a variety of people and she says that “you need to find ways to successfully communicate and work together by focusing on the goals of the company and the project at hand. With that focus it becomes easier to find how each person on the team can contribute and be successful.”

What advice would Jackie give to women thinking about joining the industry?

“Don’t make the stereotypes true! If someone you work with carries negative stereotypes of you, don’t let them be true. Demonstrate through your dedication, actions, results that your professional skills and abilities are what get your work done.”

Sumana Srinath

Project Management Operations

Sumana Srinath earned her master’s degree from Colorado State with an emphasis on instrumentation and sought a career that would leverage her skills in software, instrumentation, and analytical skills. She joined an organization in 1997 as a software engineer in Ohio, and soon after, the company became part of Topcon. Sumana moved to Ames, Iowa with her husband when he joined as faculty at Iowa State University. And she stayed with Topcon.

“At that time, Topcon gave me the opportunity to continue working remotely, and I am now going on more than 25 years with the company. I have worked with many wonderful colleagues and currently am in the role of Senior Manager, Product Management Operations.”

In her current role, Sumana works with product managers to centralize product management processes and governance, coordinate and drive business logic implementation with multiple teams, and track and monitor business performance with established processes. She says she’s grateful to the managers who encouraged her to pursue professional development and leadership opportunities throughout the years, including the Global Leadership Development Program.

“While I believe there are still opportunities to educate the broader workforce on gender equity and unconscious bias, I also think Topcon is supportive of all its employees. It is heartening to see Topcon women in key leadership positions and other critical roles.”

“It is always a positive thing to see more diversity in every field. Any field should reflect the demographics of the society at large and leverage the talent of the available workforce. In this context, having more women in technology and construction will ultimately benefit the industry. Seeing women in key roles will encourage more women to enter the field, and everybody wins!”

Sarah Gress

Vice President, Global Supply Chain

Sarah Gress started as an analyst at a large tech company after college, where she learned all aspects of supply chain and operations as well as the overall business from a high level.

From there, her love of working in supply chain and mentoring people grew. She joined Topcon in 2010 as a Procurement Manager and has since been able to grow and take on more of the responsibilities within operations. Now she oversees procurement, strategic sourcing, inventory management, logistics and warehousing.
“While this may still be a male-dominated industry, I believe that is changing over time. Having women as part of any industry brings value. Overall diversity brings different experiences and thoughts that lead to better collaboration and problem solving.”

Topcon has not only supported Sarah’s career growth, but also her personally.
“Topcon has supported me as a mother, which for me is my greatest role. I had my first daughter less than two years after starting at Topcon, and they have supported me as I step into bigger roles, all while maintaining a balanced life.”
What advice would Sarah give to young women thinking about joining to the industry?
“Find a mentor and a group of peers who support you and who you can work with to bounce ideas off of.”

Heidi Oviatt

District Manager, PBSU

Heidi Oviatt’s career path hasn’t been typical. In 1996, she began working at a surveying software company as a receptionist. Her manager saw her potential and offered her a job in sales, cold-calling potential software customers. She quickly discovered a love for working with customers, including the sales aspect of the job.

In 2010, Heidi started with Topcon as a regional sales manager.

“It has been the best decision for my career. I have been able to gain knowledge about the survey and construction market while continuing to work in sales. I love my job and I am excited about what the future holds.”

Now Heidi is part of a team that works with dealer distribution to sell Topcon machine control and surveying equipment.

“I think having women in technology and construction adds value to the industry. This has always been a male-dominated industry. When I am with my coworkers or the senior level, I am treated as an equal. This is such a change from when I began working in this industry. I have teenage daughters and I want them to see that they can be and do anything they want. I want them to feel proud that their mom is working in this industry and that it’s something they can do, also.”

What advice would Heidi offer to women thinking about joining the industry?

“If a woman is thinking about joining our industry, I would suggest that they find a female mentor or a leader that has been in the industry for several years. Network, ask questions and seek advice from people that can help guide your career. Don’t be afraid to join the industry. Women shouldn’t question what they want to do or who they want to be because it isn’t the ‘norm.’”

Katrin Hentschel

Project Manager and Engineering Manager

Katrin Hentschel grew up loving the subjects of math and programming in school. She went on to earn her master’s degree in geodesy at the University of Germany.

She joined Topcon 20 years ago, first as a software engineer for machine control software, specifically 3D-MC, Pocket 3D, Sitelink, 3D Office, LPS Setup. Later, Katrin managed a team of software engineers for machine control rover software such as Pocket 3D.

Today, Katrin is a product manager and engineering manager for Mobile Application in the Machine Control Group. She says her career growth and success prove that Topcon offers equal opportunities for men and women.

“It’s nice to see that more and more women are joining the industry; there are lots of women on mining and construction sites driving big trucks and women working behind the scenes as well. Both women and men benefit our industry. Topcon is an outstanding company – offering a flexible and supportive work environment for all.

“If women are interested in joining the industry, my advice is to just do it! More women joining the industry removes the stigma that construction is mostly for men.”

Cindy Hudson

CIO and EVP of Engineering

Cindy’s career began in healthcare. Working as a radiographic technician for a couple of years, she then transitioned into a business-oriented role for a company that provided speech, physical and occupational therapy services to nursing homes, hospitals and rehab centers across the US. She was then presented with many opportunities to learn and advance her career in the IT space over several years.

“I started my career with Topcon mid-2005 as Director of Project Management working on special projects. The company was in growth mode and I was once again afforded some great opportunities that facilitated my growth as a leader. In my current role as CIO and EVP of Engineering, I am responsible for ensuring our global engineering and IT teams have the leadership, direction, support and tools ultimately needed to make great products. In today’s rapidly evolving world of technology, engineering and IT are quite interconnected, so my dual roles help facilitate that synergy.”

“I have to give credit to our CEO, Ray O’Connor for the opportunities afforded me. I believe I was among the first female directors at Topcon, and within a couple of years he promoted me to VP — a first in our company. He always judged me by effort, commitment and results — nothing else. I think that helped other women at Topcon see that they too could advance their careers if they had the interest and the drive. I am quite pleased to see how many women we have in senior management roles at Topcon today, and I expect to see that accelerate when I look at the young, talented women in our organization.”

“We all hear about talent shortages everywhere, particularly in technology and construction, so opening the doors for women to take on leadership roles and fill talent gaps where it may have been more challenging in the past, just makes good business sense — it significantly expands the resource pool and strengthens the overall business and industry.”

Kris Cowles

Sr. VP Information Technology

Kris Cowles started her career at Cisco and over the course of more than a decade, served in various leadership roles including as Director of the IT Enterprise B2B team and Director of Engineering Operations. She joined Topcon in 2014 wanting to join a growing global company with a track record of innovation and a strong culture and vision for how it wanted to make a positive impact on the world. “Topcon had so many of the things I was looking for — it was that serendipity of the right role at the right time.”

She started as the Sr. Director of Application IT and is currently the Senior Vice President of IT, which includes responsibility for the full portfolio of IT, driving strategy across the global footprint of both traditional Topcon business units as well as new business models. “I am honored and humbled to lead and work with an amazing group of very talented individuals covering applications, infrastructure, security and a partnership with Engineering to deliver product."

“Women comprise 60% of university students and this holds true for graduate degrees as well. However, women are still underrepresented in STEM-related fields of IT and Engineering at only 15-25%. While overall this is a complex issue to address, I always ask myself, ‘what part I can play?’ I hope to influence the new generation by being an example of what technology careers can look like. As humans, we tend to believe what we can see and relate to.”

Diane Michalon

Business Development Manager, OEM & UAV/Inspection

Diane began her career working for a small company that was a pioneer in drone mapping and inspection services in France. Diane was in charge of selling what is now known as the Falcon 8+ drone in France to the energy and railway sectors. Soon, the company was purchased by Intel and Diane got in touch with Topcon Europe and Topcon France, reselling for them through the agreement with Intel.

“I started with Topcon in 2019, selling Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and associated software for the European region, both directly and through Topcon’s subsidiaries and dealers. In my current role as Business Development Manager, I am now responsible for OEM Global Navigation Satellite (GNSS) boards, and am also getting more and more involved with selling Topnet Live subscriptions, with direct sales and supporting subsidiaries work.”

“I have the feeling that Topcon provides opportunities to people as long as you have the motivation, the willingness to learn and put in the work. Topcon will help you grow your qualities and develop new ones, offering opportunities to expand your knowledge, even outside of your areas of expertise — which I attribute to great management and company culture.”

Jessica Peterson

Director, Americas Marketing

Jessica’s career with Topcon began over 20 years ago. Her mother — now retired — worked for the company, so when it was time for Jessica to get a summer job in high school, she got a job in the warehouse in Livermore, California.

“That was my first taste of construction technology. I remember telling my friends how cool it was that I ‘got to work with lasers.’ After a few summers of working in the warehouse, an opportunity as a marketing intern opened up. From there, my career path went from Marketing Intern to Marketing Admin, Special Events Coordinator, Trade Show/Event Manager and then Sr. Trade Show/Event Manager. Today, I am the Director of Marketing for the Americas region, where my team is responsible for all the marketing activities within our region both to the customer and in support of our dealers and retail operations. It’s been a crazy ride! I’ve met and work alongside some of the best people along the way.”

“I’ve been around the construction industry now for most of my life, and it’s no secret that there are not a lot of women — especially higher up in organizations — although I do see that changing. The difference with Topcon is that there are so many advocates for women. I get treated the same way regardless of my gender.  They respect the fact that I know my job, and know the industry. That’s the difference at Topcon — people just want you to be good at your job, and want you to believe in the company and the technology. This is something I really commend Ray O’Connor for. Cultivating that kind of culture at an ever-growing company isn’t easy, and when I look at other male-dominated industries, I can tell that’s not the case everywhere. Although, I’d like to think it is getting better.”

“Diversity is a beautiful thing. And while every person has their own experiences and journey to get to where they are, there are some things that are just unique for women. Our experiences shape us, even if we don’t realize it. Because of this, the construction industry — which, let’s face it, has been about 90% men for the past 600 years — has grown leaps and bounds by doing nothing more than just being more inclusive. This drives everyone to be better, to look at things in a different perspective. To not be stuck on ideas and practices because ‘that’s the way it’s always been.’ Technology on its own is a disrupter, but bringing different ideals changes industries — and quickly. Women are no longer just sitting in job trailers working on filing, we’re controlling machines, building technology, designing complex plans, marketing for construction technology companies, and running billion-dollar construction projects across the globe — and the industry is better because of it.”

Julia Kirchner

Marketing Manager DACH

Before Julia joined Topcon, she worked for many years as an office manager in a business center — that’s where she first came into contact with technology in the construction industry.

“My history with Topcon goes back to 1999. I was working externally for Topcon — who was a customer of ours at the time — and in the beginning I supported sales assistance and marketing-related activities. Later on, when the Topcon marketing department developed in Europe, I was responsible for all of the Marketing activities for Germany, and in 2015 I was hired as a Marketing Manager for the DACH area.”

“My responsibilities include everything marketing-related in the German-speaking countries for our organization, and also for all of our local dealers and OEM partners; from marketing planning, communications, sales promotions, campaign conception and implementation, dealer and partner marketing, event planning and execution and of course managing our local communications agencies. All of this is done in close cooperation with EMEA Marketing and Corporate Marketing as one global team. I see Marketing in general as a supporting service for all departments.”

“Being a part of the local management team clearly underlines the fact that Topcon is very open for women in leading positions. From country-level up to senior-level. There is continuous leadership training available, and a very open atmosphere to discuss personal growth.”

“The construction industry is still often perceived as a “man’s world,” but I definitely feel there is a new culture we’re growing into — a more diverse one. Especially nowadays with the use of technology, cross departmental projects and a global way of working, we defy this old mindset. Just looking at our own company, when I think back ten to fifteen years, there were only a couple of women throughout Europe in Topcon — and not even on the front end visible to the markets. Now there are plenty of women in different departments, involved in many different projects and indeed visible as representatives of Topcon.”

“In my opinion, the impact of a company on its industry is always shaped by its culture — it starts with the understanding of the benefits of diversity. Different perspectives, backgrounds, skill sets, experiences and knowledge — regardless of gender or industry — I truly believe that the more diverse a team is, the stronger it is.”

Stacy Braun

Test Engineer, Topcon Agriculture

Stacy Braun was a Combat Engineer for the Canadian Armed Forces; a career that she continued for 8 years within the Army Reserves. In her final year of study at the University of Saskatchewan College of Engineering, she earned an internship position in the Research and Development Department of CNH Industrial (Case New Holland) 
in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

“My career continued with full employment working in the Product Validation Department with CNH. I stayed working within the CNH company for 5 years and did a lot of traveling throughout Canada and the USA working with customers and new products.”

Looking for a role that would bring her closer to home, Stacy accepted a position in the product design and testing department with agricultural manufacturer Bourgault Industries.

“I started at Topcon in January of 2020 as a Test Engineer — creating test plans and procedures, and completing testing for new features and regression testing. This position is quite heavily focused on electronics and computer components within agriculture mechanical systems.”

“Topcon has been very supportive in creating an equal opportunity workplace, my fellow employees at the Saskatoon location have been nothing short of exceptional when it comes to passing on knowledge and assisting in projects.”

“I believe that having women involved in the technology and construction industry in all levels and roles creates a more complete and dynamic team in the ever-changing world of electronics and precision automation. Being a diverse team with expertise in all aspects of the company allows us to be innovative and aware, keeping Topcon a leader in our field of work.”

Stefania Basciu

Senior Manager of Software Development

Stefania began her career in Sardinia, Italy working for a major consulting company in the automotive field, where she worked with companies like Ferrari and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.

She joined Topcon in 2017 as a Software Embedded Manager with the goal of developing a new embedded team in Turin. Within about 2 years, she was named Topcon’s Senior Manager of Software Development.

“Today I am responsible for not only the development of our connectivity devices, but also to manage the development activities of our Topcon Agriculture Platform (TAP). In my current role I manage and coordinate all the resources needed for the development of the TAP platform and Cloudlink Devices, coordinating internal activities and managing all the internal and external stakeholders from project origination to customers passing through suppliers and monitoring the budget.”

“At Topcon, there is no gender difference, and this brings with it an openness for everyone to all company opportunities, thus providing the chance to achieve their professional goals. Topcon believes in people and their professionalism, regardless of anything else.”

“I think it’s the all different professionalism, personalities and attitudes that create a real impact. In general, I believe that diversity of any kind always brings added value to an industry because seeing the same product, activity, problem or opportunity from different points of view helps to create more complete and accessible solutions.”

Our values


We own our work and strive to exceed expectations.


We invite collaboration and foster communication in all areas.


We don't wait for the future. We invent it.


We do the right thing. Always.