Perhaps it’s the thrill of a start-up venture that stokes the interest of Indiana native Barbara Kew.
After all, she spent 40 years working in the technology side of business helping Fortune 500 companies maintain their competitive edge. Following her retirement two years ago, she has offered her expertise and wisdom helping start-up business ventures get off the ground.
So it was a natural fit in 2017 when Cassidy Rudman, event senior coordinator at Octagon Sports & Entertainment, contacted Kew to help lead the volunteer team at the LPGA’s new tournament, the Indy Women In Tech Championship Driven by Group 1001.
Kew was in charge of events in the Indiana chapter of the Executive Women’s Golf Association (EWGA), which was recently renamed the LPGA Amateur Golf Association. She was passionate about golf and experienced in technology, so Rudman knew she wanted Kew on her team to help get the new LPGA tournament off to a solid start.
“As one of the first volunteers registered, she recruited numerous volunteers across many of the committees and informed tournament staff of different places to activate and promote the event,” said Rudman. “She was a tremendous help in the months leading up to the tournament and has offered positive and thoughtful feedback.”
And when it was time to reach out to her fellow EWGA members, Kew -- now president of the Indianapolis LPGA Amateur Golf Association chapter -- used her business savvy and Indiana friendliness to convince others to pitch in to help at last year’s inaugural event.
“We thought it would be really cool to get as many women as we could to marshal a hole at a tournament in which professional women golfers were playing,” said Kew, who lives in Carmel, Ind. “Last year, we had mostly women working on hole No. 1, plus some spouses.”
Led by Kew, the hole captain, those 20 EWGA members not only directed the tournament traffic on the opening hole -- marshaling players passing through and the galleries following them -- but they also worked in scoring, assisted in hospitality on adjacent holes, and distributed uniforms to volunteers.
Kew monitored a radio on the hole during last year’s tournament and organized the volunteers’ respective work shifts, breaks and helped with general concerns. Each tournament day began around 7:15 a.m. and continued until late afternoon.
“Our women’s golf membership really stepped up,” said Kew. “We asked them for help and we also campaigned for volunteers through our newsletters, reminders, emails and a little begging.”
Beyond her recreational golf circles, Kew also sought out volunteers at meetings with technology groups throughout Indianapolis. She especially reached out to women through various network connections who weren’t golfers to assure them they didn’t have to know or play golf to volunteer at the tournament.
“It can be a little intimidating to work at a professional golf tournament, but several of the women who worked last year at our first event will be back this year,” added Kew. “One is even returning home from vacation a couple of days early to help.”
Kew’s volunteer team on hole No. 1 this year will include several men who don’t have any connections with the LPGA Amateur Golf Association (formerly EWGA). She is happy to add the gentlemen to their squad – ever mindful that volunteering on the hole gives the members a chance to talk about their organization to other volunteers, as well as to fans at the event.
“We kind of use it as a conversation piece with some of the guys,” said Kew, who has been a member of the organization since 2008. “You never know if they have wives or sisters or know women who enjoy golf and might like to join the LPGA Amateur Golf Association.”
Kew is thrilled the LPGA has found a way to incorporate women in technology with an official tour event. Until the last 10 years of her career working as the chief information officer for large corporations, Kew was often the only woman in her surrounding tech community. When she graduated from college, she was one of only two women computer science majors in her class.
“I got my computer science degree before PCs were invented, so people didn’t have a clue what my degree was,” she said with a laugh. “They were like, ‘What are you going to do with that besides work at NASA?’”
Kew lived in Southern California for 25 years, long before Silicon Valley was what it has become in recent years. She managed corporate technology and would meet with vendors to buy the technology created in Northern California.
“I would help companies run their systems all around the globe,” she explained. “You have to remember that the Internet and even [the technology of] networking from machine to machine is not that old.”
With illness in her family and ready to rear two children, Kew and her husband moved back to Indiana in the mid-1990s. She wanted to be closer to home and to become involved in the thriving tech community in Indianapolis.
This summer, while juggling the schedule of tournament volunteers, Kew will be attuned to the needs of her fellow volunteers, as well as to the details of the autumn weddings of both her son and daughter.
Her goal is to stay busy, even in retirement. In addition to volunteering at the LPGA tournament in Indianapolis, she has served on the board at TechPoint and on the Indiana University Computer Sciences Dean’s Advisory Council. She is also a member of Elevate Ventures Advisory Council, helping small companies grow their businesses. Before retiring, she led coat drives and heart walks for the companies where she worked.
Kew has also volunteered for 20 years in scouts, with youth hockey teams, created competition choir costumes and worked in various capacities at her church.
Through golf, she has stayed active with the Central Indiana Chapter Board of the EWGA for 10 years, and has also volunteered at the PGA’s BMW Championship at Crooked Stick Golf Club. Aside from the LPGA’s tournament week, the 25-handicapper tries to play golf three times a week.
“Some of volunteering is about giving back and some of it is that I just want to keep my brain going and not sit at home,” she said. “I also want to do something challenging. Working at this LPGA tournament does that, but it’s still fun.”
Because of her tech affiliation and an opportunity from one of the tournament sponsors, Kew will get to play in this year’s official pro-am.
But to see technology take a prominent place in the spotlight at an LPGA event is an added bonus at the tournament hosted in her hometown.
“I like the idea of the LPGA and women in tech because they’ve done a really nice job of tying in some direct tech activities with the tournament week, such as TechPoint honoring its Top 25 Up-and-Comers,” Kew said.
“The tournament also buses in young women in junior high to participate in some technology sessions early in the tournament week,” she added. “They will expose the students to such things as race-car technology.”
But while Kew will never lose her love for technology, she also hopes to build on last year’s unique vantage point of watching a professional win an LPGA tournament.
“The top marshal asked me and a few volunteers from hole No. 1 to help marshal the big gallery coming through on the final hole last year,” she said. “The excitement was building and we got to walk down the 18th fairway behind [winner] Lexi Thompson. It was really cool.”
And with Thompson’s final putt, the start-up Indy Women In Tech Championship was in the books -- making Kew hungry for more and already thinking of ways to make this year’s second annual event even better than the first.
As a nominee for the 2018 XL Catlin Volunteer Service Award, Kew will share the honor with a deserving local charity if her name is drawn at the end of the year.
The XL Catlin Volunteer Award was first started at the America’s Cup, where it recognized outstanding volunteers who give back to the local community in its headquartered country of Bermuda. XL Catlin is a global company that provides insurance and reinsurance to clients in more than 215 countries. As risk experts, XL Catlin relies on innovation and creativity to drive business and provide a unique approach to risk management.