As a company, ON Semiconductor celebrates differences and promotes an inclusive environment by valuing the contributions of all employees and the communities in which we serve. Part of this celebration is recognizing and honoring the cultural histories and backgrounds of our employees.
This February, we asked Gail Ricketts, CISA, CRISC, Certified CISA & CRISC Trainer, MBA, a key member of our information security and risk staff, to tell us about her life, career and what Black History Month means to her.
What does Black History Month mean to you?
Gail Ricketts (G.R.): Black History Month, also referred to as African-American History Month, is about heritage. My personal view of Black History Month is through the lens of my heritage, which comes from Suriname, South America, and the Caribbean Island of Jamaica.
What was your introduction in early life to black history in America?
G.R.: Although most Americans know little, there is rich and diverse black history woven into the fabric of America. My family provided me with a tremendous education about our history. They made me aware of the impact that black Americans had on American society.
Who are some of the people your family taught you about growing up?
G.R.: Inventors like Jan Matzeliger, whose invention the shoe making machine, patented in 1883, could make anywhere from 150 to 700 pairs of shoes per day. Garrett Morgan ,who invented the traffic signal, patented in 1923, and the gas mask, patented in 1914. Mathematicians and Scientists the likes of Katherine Johnson, Mary Jackson, and Dorothy Vaughan, whose lives portrayed in the movie Hidden Figures who wrote the mathematical calculations that went in to making John Glenn the first American man into space in 1962. To people like Fannie Lou Hamas, a Civil Rights Activist, Marian Wright Edelman, and a Children Rights Activist to John Lewis a Congressman from the state of Georgia.
While these names are not well known, they have changed America in beneficial, influential and productive ways. I believe that it is my responsibility to share my knowledge and experiences to enlighten those that I can in a positive manner of the contributions black Americans have made to this great nation.
How did your heritage and family background influence your education and career path?
G.R.: My family used these lessons to instill the importance of pursuing education and knowledge. I wanted to be a teacher but found that my interest in technology was stronger. I changed my major, accounting, to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Information Systems and graduated in 2002 with a specialization in networking from the University of Phoenix.
I obtained two professional certifications: one as an information systems auditor (CISA) in 2004 and one in information systems risk (CRISC) in 2010 from ISACA.org, for which I am certified by ISACA to teach both. So twice a year, for the last 13 years, I have the honor and pleasure of combining my two passions: teaching and technology.
I went back to school, Arizona State University, where I obtained an Executive Master’s Degree in Business Administration in 2011. Before coming to ON Semiconductor, I consulted with Fortune 500 companies, e.g., Ford Motor Company, GM, TASER, MGM Grand to name a few.
How are you working to share your knowledge in the community?
G.R.: I teach via Junior Achievement of Arizona through the relationship between ON Semiconductor and Balsz Elementary School. I also sit on the board of the Cybersecurity Council of AZ as a Co-chair as well as on the board for The Alliance of Technology and Women as the treasurer.
I am working with Arizona State University to bring an artificial intelligence camp for under privilege girls to the West Campus for a three-week, all expenses paid experience, where the students will participate on enhancing artificial intelligence. We have already received a $50K grant, a promise of another $25K, and I am currently looking to secure the last $25K to make this endeavor a reality.