From scrappy startups to sophisticated corporate enterprises, Sarah Franklin, who earned a degree in chemical engineering in 1997, was recently named No. 6 on Forbes World’s Most Influential Chief Marketing Officer’s List for 2022. With innovation as her guiding light and after 13 years with the San Francisco-based SalesForce, Franklin was promoted to chief marketing officer in January 2021. 

Often the lone woman on a team, Franklin throughout her career witnessed the inequality of women and minorities in STEM careers, which inspired her to help spark the Trailblazer Movement by launching Trailhead, Salesforce’s gamified online learning platform. With Trailhead, she has helped people transform their careers from hair stylists, salsa dance instructors, and factory workers to successful technologists, according to her official Salesforce bio.

Franklin is one of the Virginia Tech women profiled in the newest university series —  Women in Industry — highlighting passionate, hardworking, smart, and creative women leading the way in industry. From Liz Hart, deputy White House social secretary, to Julia M. Ross, Virginia Tech’s first female dean for the College of Engineering, to pioneers in Hollywood working to promote underrepresented women in film such as Michelle Krusiec, Virginia Tech women are making history.

Join host Dawn Jefferies, Virginia Tech's director of visual strategy, for the Women in Industry series premiere on July 27 to learn more about inspiring Hokie women. Register for the virtual event

The Women in Industry series began as an idea to highlight women in STEM, but flourished as Virginia Tech hosted in-person networking and panel discussions over the last year. Alumni shared that their career paths may not be STEM-focused, but the topics and experiences associated with the challenges of the STEM fields resonated with many. In an effort to be more inclusive and capture the journeys of these trailblazers, Women in Industry was born.

The event premiere will include a compilation of profile videos of the following Hokies. Individual interviews, conducted by Jefferies, will be available in their entirety on the website after the premiere. 

  • Sarah Franklin '97
    • President and chief marketing officer, Salesforce
    • College of Engineering
  • Liz Hart '07
    • Deputy White House social secretary
    • College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences
  • Michelle Krusiec '95
    • Actress and director
    • College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences
  • Jennifer McDermott '96
    • Executive director, Global Technology Workforce Strategy, JPMorgan Chase
    • Pamplin College of Business
  • Prianka Nandy '02
    • Chief information and technology officer, Special Olympics
    • College of Science
  • Jummy Olabanji '06
    • Anchor/reporter, NBC (Washington)
    • College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences
  • Julia M. Ross
    • Paul and Dorothea Torgersen Dean of Engineering, Virginia Tech
  • Kimberly Roy '99
    • Chief executive officer, Hitt Contracting
    • College of Architecture, Arts, and Design

In collaboration with University Relations, the Women in Industry series is sponsored by Virginia Tech’s Innovation and Partnerships office, dedicated to supporting all aspects of alumni, foundation, and corporate partnerships from research collaborations, alumni professional development and workplace networks, to technology commercialization and start-ups. Comprising three centers, LINK + LICENSE + LAUNCH, the Innovation and Partnership team is focused on turning what if into what’s next.