Alumni Spotlight: Berkeley College Alumna Encourages Aspiring CEOs to Pave Their Own Way to Business Success

Friday, September 15, 2023
Contact: Kelly Depsee
Senior Director, Communications and External Relations

Berkeley Pagano 

Maryann Pagano’s advice to aspiring entrepreneurs is to “pave your own way.” 

“Have confidence in yourself and your abilities,” said Pagano, CEO of BlackHawk Data LLC, an information technology solutions company she launched more than five years ago. “You don’t have to know exactly what you want, but you have to know you can do it. Don’t let anyone tell you that they made you – you have to make yourself.” 

After graduating from high school in the 1980s, Pagano struggled to find her path to higher education. Then, she found Berkeley College. 

“Berkeley fit what I wanted on the business side,” said Pagano, who received a diploma in the Intensive Secretarial Program in 1988. “I really enjoyed what we were learning, and I excelled in that space. It re-sparked my interest and helped me rebuild my confidence.” 

Pagano’s grandmother found her an entry-level position at an information technology company, and she never looked back. 

“I had no real-world job experience, but I took all of the skills I learned at Berkeley and it was a good fit. I’ve stayed in the IT space for 25 years. I love the fast-paced and competitive nature,” said Pagano, a resident of West Babylon, NY. 

In June 2018, Pagano launched BlackHawk Data LLC, which quickly grew to a $60 million company that employs a staff of nearly 50. From infrastructure to networking, BlackHawk provides the invisible but vital technology that keeps businesses running smoothly. 

With her success, Pagano is paying it forward through mentorship and advocacy. She creates weekly social media posts to encourage women in technology and launched a LinkedIn Live segment that allows other women in business to tell their stories. 

“My goal was to build a platform to encourage women in tech – to let them know there was a space for them,” Pagano said of the quarterly interviews, which garner hundreds of viewers. “You don’t see many women in CEO roles. If one person comes to me and says ‘I heard your story and it was inspiring’ – that’s why I do it.” 

Pagano will also be a panelist during Berkeley College’s 9th Annual Women’s Entrepreneurship Week event on October 18, 2023. The theme – “The Power to Empower: Paying It Forward in Business” – resonates with her mission to give back. 

Pagano’s goals for her company include reaching $1 billion in revenue within the next 10 years. 

“To be able to get to that number is something I never thought was possible,” she said. “I started my business with no money, no capital, no investors. It took a lot of hard work, dedication, and some tears. In the end, I can proudly say I did it on my own, and that speaks volumes.”

Berkeley Pagano 

Photo Caption: (Left) Kristin Malek, Global Director of Business Diversity, CDW-G, with Maryann Pagano, CEO, BlackHawk Data LLC, as Pagano accepts the 2021 Women of the Channel award. (Right, L to R) Jason Caparoso, Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer, BlackHawk Data; Pagano; and Chris McGovern, President, Presh Marketing Solutions. 

About Berkeley College 

Berkeley College, founded in 1931, is a career-focused institution accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education that offers students Master’s, Bachelor’s, and Associate’s degree and Certificate programs in more than 20 career fields. The College also offers Continuing Education programs to enhance career credentials.  

Berkeley College has campuses in New York City and in Newark, Woodbridge, and Woodland Park, NJ, with more than 3,600 students enrolled. In addition, Berkeley College Online® serves a global population. U.S. News & World Report has named Berkeley College among the Best Colleges for Online Bachelor’s Programs and among the Best Online Bachelor’s Programs for Veterans, for 10 consecutive years. U.S. News & World Report named Berkeley College (NJ) one of the Best Regional Colleges in the North in its 2023 edition of the Best Colleges Survey. Berkeley College (NJ) was recognized among the Best Colleges in the region for social mobility for three consecutive years. The website address is