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Catégorie : GHC16

GHC 2016 poster session – amazing work!

Single word to describe the Poster session is Enthusiasm. Students and Professionals from various backgrounds and varied subjects presented their work with  passion.  Tirelessly and patiently they presented their posters with a smile. The posters were grouped by topics like Robotics, Bioinformatics, Data science and so on. In between presentations they were bonding with each other, which was added…

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Public speaking at GHC16

Book cover (pic from amazon)

Karen Catlin and Poornima Vijayashanker are two amazing women empowering technical women to improve their public speaking skills and help them take their rightful place at the table. Both of them started off as software engineers and later got into consulting in public speaking and other topics. They’ve co-authored a book on the topic – Present! A Techie’s Guide to Public Speaking. I got the amazing opportunity to attend a workshop where they shared some tips from their book.

Karen Catlin

The workshop was presented in a ‘I show then You do‘ fashion where the presenters talked us through the steps to achieve, walked us through a real-life example and then made go through the exercise ourselves. 

Poornima Vijayshanker

They walked us through the steps of identifying what we can speak afer inventorying our achievements over the past year, whetting interest in the topic with others at the table and coming up with a suitable story to open our story with. Almost every attendee walked away with a topic they could potentially present on. That was the best part!

They shared some tips to overcome stage fright, prepare good slides, practicing etc.

Apart from the techniques to identify what you can speak on, my key takeaways were the following – 

  1. Power Posing ala Amy Cuddy
  2. Meet and greet your audience before the talk to overcome nervousness and gather data for Q&A
  3. Story telling to draw the audience in
  4. How to handle Q&A (crowd source if you do not know the answer, use the meet & greet data to create questions)
I’m looking forward to develop my speaking topic further and see where it takes me. For more details on the session, refer to the handy notes on the systers wiki.

Also, I’ve started reading their book to learn more. If I’ve intrigued you enough, you can get your copy from here.
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Harnessing Technology for the Public Interest — Lessons from Latanya Sweeney

Arbitrary design decisions dictate the way we live our lives.

Continue reading on True Colors »

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Women in Future Tech @GHC16

Have you ever seen almost 15000 women in a single place? You should have been at the Toyota Center this morning. The excitement was palpable in the huge auditorium while waiting for the opening keynote of the 16th annual Grace Hopper Celebration (GHC) to begin. Music DJ Roonie DJ entertained us with popular numbers while we waited.

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GHC16 starts with a bang!

Ever seen almost 15000 women in a single place? You should have been at the Toyota Center this morning. The excitement was palpable in the huge auditorium while waiting for the opening keynote of the 16th annual Grace Hopper Celebration (GHC) to begin. Popular music numbers by DJ Roonie DJ fed the frenzy in the audience.

The crowd at the keynote

Dr. Telle Whitney, the CEO and President of the Anita Borg

Dr Telle Whitney

Institute (ABI) opened the session welcoming the attendees and talking about the progress this event has made since its inception in 1994. They had about 500 attendees then and today it has grown to over 15000 attendees from across 83 countries (also includes 1000 men attendees) and the keynotes are being live streamed as well. Women, it seems, are ready to drive change on a global scale.

Dr Latanya Sweeney, Professor at Harvard, is an impressive

Dr Latanya Sweeney

lady. She is the pioneer in Data Privacy as we know it. With some concrete data-driven examples, she made it clear that we as computer science engineers need to ‘algorithmically accountable’. We should not just be concerned with developing new technology and programs but also be mindful of the consequences of these technologies i.e. ethics/data privacy issues ideally in the design phase. She drove home the point that we shouldn’t just think about data in my application but what information this data along with all available public datasets together can provide. Her call to action is that we should train/help the policy regulators help formulate the data policies in a rapidly changing technocracy we are living in.

Dr Anna Patterson, this year’s technical leadership ABI award winner

Dr Anna Patterson

and VP at Google, is the most humble person I’ve seen in a while. She isn’t afraid to say the hard things. Her leadership style is to be transparent and be over-trusting. It makes people go overboard to deliver their goals. She hoped that any struggles or difficulties women see at the 

Let your light shine

workplace will soon be as distant in memory as the fight for the right to vote. She was passionate about women exercising their hard-earned right to vote this election year. Thank you for reminding us of this responsibility to our nation.

The 2016 ABI award for the Top Companies for women technologists 

Dr Rebecca Parsons

went to Thoughtworks. Their CTO, Dr Rebecca Parsons, said that technology is at the epicenter of social growth and there has never been a better time for women technologists with attitude, aptitude and integrity.

Ginni Rometty, CEO and President of IBM, spoke next. So

Gnni Rometty

down-to-earth! Loved her 3 mantras for success – never let someone else define who you are, growth and comfort never go together and work on something bigger than you are. She reminded us that ‘past is prologue’ and this is the cognitive era. She also had a mini-panel where she pulled in 3 of IBM’s best engineers and had them speak about their specialities – agile/user-centric design, Watson-based genomics and innovations.

The 2016 ABI Student of Vision award winner this year is an

Alyssia Jovellanos (pic courtesy ABI)

inspiring and cool 19-year old Alyssia Jovellanos. She talked about how a chat with a single software engineer changed her course of study. She said that letting new people into your life, finding a mentor and being a mentor can expand the world beyond your imagination. Someone to look out for in the coming years.

The keynote was so inspiring – listening to women working at the cutting edge of technology and being in a room with so many women was strangely empowering. Definitely an experience of a lifetime.

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Grace Hopper 2016: Insights from the Top Companies Leadership Index

Earlier today, during the morning keynotes at the Grace Hopper Conference, the highest scoring companies from the 2016 Top Companies…

Continue reading on It’s Not Rocket Science »

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Quiet: How to Harness the Strengths of Introverts – a GHC 2016 Lecture by Susan Cain

“Have any of you ever read a book that you loved so much that you wrote an over-the-top gushing fan letter to the author?” Susan Ali asked the audience.  Many hands went up.  “How many of you got a response from … Continue reading

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Step 72.1: Set Learning Goals for GHC

I’m heading to the Grace Hopper Celebration today. I would have gone for the full conference (which started today), but teaching and other duties kept me in LA for the morning. Since I’m the only person going, I set some goals for myself, which I thought I would share: Meet people virtually. I volunteered for […]

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7AM at Houston – Looking great!

Thanks to the volunteer meeting early in the morning, got no lines at the badging woohoo! The streets were quite, there was hustle and bustle close to convention center and eager volunteers. Looking forward to a great day…

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Houston Arrival

While boarding the flight to Houston, I looked around and realized, I am on a Grace Hopper plane! That’s exactly what the other passengers called it, a Grace Hopper plane. We were all on the plane to Houston specifically to attend the Grace Hopper conference. Even though we had to endure TSA, and even though it was 7:30AM (a time of day I rarely see) there was not a frown in site. We are going to a massive networking event after all, so why not? We all had this one thing in common, and so the networking begins. To the left of my seat was a Researcher from Cambridge, MA « not England as that’s a big difference » he assured everyone. This will be his third year at GHC and in order to win a conference pass, he had to have 4 conputers running on different servers during open enrollment, and ready, to press the button. Impressive, I thought. Great to know for next year. 

To the right of me was an IT person who manages data centers. In order to get to attend GHC, he had to volunteer as a recruiter. This will be his 4th year. Some other passengers were first timers like myself, mostly from Microsoft or Amazon. Those two companies after all, dominate the tech industry in Seattle. Not one person I met was staying at the same hotel as me. 
Once we landed, we all cheered or sighed in relief. Did I mention the weather at an earlier blog? Confirmed by the captain at landing, it was a searing 90degrees… something I’m not used to this time of year. I looked at my sweaters and realized I had only packed long pants. Then suddenly the researcher on my left said « we aren’t allowed to wear shorts anymore because Lisa Brummel left the company so all I brought are long pants! » Was that inappropriate? I hope not. It did make me feel better because I wasn’t alone with the long pants.
After riding in a taxi through Houston, I wasn’t very impressed. The streets seemed empty, and building windows were very dark. I couldn’t peek into buildings without looking out of place. At 5 pm, commuters fill the streets and compete to get hom. Hot breeze welcomes you every time you exit a building or a taxi. Then the cool Air Conditioning welcomes you back every time you enter a building or taxi.  
In Houston city, free busses run within city limits. Taxis will take you to another place in the city for a flat rate of $6. You can also rent a bicycle and ride designated bike lanes around town. The Galleria provides mall-like shopping. Its supposed to be one of the biggest malls in the area. I may hit that up later this week.
Its hard to imagine that there are 15000 conference attendees, all converged on this one city. I will see all attendees at once when the conference begins tomorrow.
I then attended a pre-conference social event. When you enter, you are given 5 bracelets in one color of your choice. Your goal is to meet people with different bracelet colors, and exchange bracelets. If you succeeded, you will end up with 5 bracelets of all different colors. What a very fun way to meet people! I met people from the Identity team, Microsoft Office Tokyo, Bing, Office Online, Windows Server, from all types of jobs: devs, PM, SWE’s, managers, etc. It was almost a neverending social meeting. While meeting one person after another, somehow along the way, my brain forgot that I was an introvert and at that point, I actually had fun! I met a person who works out of Boston and was confused about what she would be doing tomorrow. I gladly helped by showing her the app, showing the schedule and how she can add a topic of interest to her schedule. She left a happy camper.
After the networking event, three girls and myself decided to roam the city for dinner. We discovered that restaurants in particular, close at 10pm. So we walked. We walked and walked and walked. Suddenly, there was light in the distance. We were tired and hungry, so we all agreed to go there. 
The place was like a foodcourt in the basement. BBQ tacos in the corner, Izakaya on one side, Beer on tap, and crepes. We ate our fill, and each ordered an uber back to our hotels.
I felt the day was a great preamble to the conference tomorrow. We networked, met people. We opened up, which is hard for many folks. Every meet is an opportunity. I’m ready for the real thing tomorrow!
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