Support Your Local Women of Color Chefs By Ordering Takeaway Food During The COVID-19 Pandemic

It’s been a few weeks of shelter-in-place and your cooking skills are stretched. Give yourself a break and order some food for takeaway, and support your local female entrepreneur/chef!

Here are 4 women chefs — alumnae of La Cocina — that are still cooking and serving up food for curbside pickup / delivery in the San Francisco Bay Area during COVID-19 shelter-in-place:


Gujarati chef Heena Patel is offering several options for pickup — from alooo gobi to chicken makhani, and khara lamb! Check out her menu online and call 415-580-7662 to order for pick-up in San Francisco.

Bini’s Kitchen

Nepalese momos are sold in bags of 50 or 100 for curbside pickup — your choice of lamb, turkey, and vegetarian — comes with a generous side of spicy tomato-cilantro sauce. Text or call Bini Pradhan at 415-361-6911 to order in San Francisco’s SOMA district.

Nyum Bai

The award-winning Nyum Bai hawks delicious Cambodian cuisine from chef Nite Yun. Check out her menu online and call 510-500-3338 to place an order for curbside pickup in East Oakland.

Reem’s California

Arab Muslim Palestinian chef Reem Assil runs several locations of the popular Reem’s California’s — her newest location in San Francisco’s Mission district. Her first storefront is in Oakland’s diverse Fruitvale neighborhood. Check out her menu online and schedule delivery/pickup at both locations.

Snacks for delivery? Some La Cocina alumnae operate…

Don Bugito: Prehispanic Snackeria

Monica Martinez is the mastermind behind planet-friendly protein snacks, featuring delicious edible insects in savory and sweet flavors like Dandelion Chocolate-covered crickets. For the less adventurous, there are granola bites powered by cricket flour. Check out her products online.

Oyna Natural Foods

Iranian immigrant Aisan Hoss runs her family food business Oyna Natural Foods to financially support her passion for dance. There are several kuku options for the Persian herb frittata. Check out her products online.

Girl Geek X Microsoft Hardware Lightning Talks (Video + Transcript)

Like what you see here? Our mission-aligned Girl Geek X partners are hiring!

We enjoyed dinner and demos of HoloLens at the sold-out Microsoft Hardware Girl Geek Dinner in Sunnyvale, California.  Erica Kawamoto Hsu / Girl Geek X

Transcript of Microsoft Hardware Girl Geek Dinner – Lightning Talks:

Angie Chang: Well, thank you so much for coming out tonight to Microsoft Hardware Girl Geek Dinner! My name is Angie Chang. I’m the founder of Girl Geek X. I’ve been doing this for about 12 years in the San Francisco Bay Area, and I’m really glad to see all of you out here tonight for this sold out event in San Jose —

Gretchen DeKnikker: Sunnyvale!

Angie Chang: Sunnyvale — sorry, I live in Berkeley! Thank you so much for coming out. Please talk to us. If you’re interested in hosting one of these at your company. The hashtag tonight is girlgeekxmicrosoft. If you want to tweet something really cool tonight, please do, share pictures, and share some of the awesome words that’ll be spoken by girl geeks tonight.

Gretchen DeKnikker: Yay, Angie. Yeah. She’s on tour right now, and she just can’t remember what city she’s in. It’s just like night after night, new city. It’s rough. Right? She’s livin’ that. Okay. How many people, it’s your first event? Cool. Welcome. We do these a lot, like several times a month, so you should definitely keep coming. I’m going to show you something right now. If you have been to four Girl Geek events, raise your hand. Keep them up if it’s five. Six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven. Okay. Oh, 12.

Gretchen DeKnikker: Okay, so you get these cards. It’s actually my little pixie on them. You get to carry me around in your pocket. How awkward is that? It’s pretty great. Okay, so we also have a podcast. Check that out. We’re just about to launch the new season where we’re answering your user questions. We sent out a survey. So that one will be really fun. We’re going to try some new things. Rate it, please. Give us feedback. Let us know because we don’t want to make stuff that nobody wants to listen to.

Gretchen DeKnikker: We also have a YouTube channel. Every time you can’t make it to one of these, you should make it because obviously, all of these awesome people come all the time. But if you can’t, they’re always on YouTube, subscribe to that. Then coming up on March 6th to kick off International Women’s weekend, because I’ve just extended it from a day to a weekend, because why not, we’re doing an all day long virtual event. It’s going to be epic. We have the Chief Diversity Officer of Workday. We’ve got the CTO of Intuit, the CMO of Twilio, the VP of Marketing from Intel AI. I can’t even list all of the amazing women that are going to spend the day with you and share all of their information, and also that will be available on YouTube later.

Gretchen DeKnikker: Self-promotion over, but this is all just for you. Please join me in welcoming your emcee for the night, Aaratee.

Microsoft Group Engineering Manager Aaratee Rao gives a talk on diversity and her career at Microsoft Hardware Girl Geek Dinner.Microsoft Group Engineering Manager Aratee Rao welcomes the audience and talks about her career at Microsoft Hardware Girl Geek Dinner. Erica Kawamoto Hsu / Girl Geek X

Aaratee Rao: Thank you, Angie and Gretchen. Good evening, everyone. My name is Aaratee Rao. I’m a group engineering manager at Microsoft Silicon Valley. I’m also the executive sponsor of diversity and inclusion for Microsoft’s Bay Area region. As your host for the evening, I would like to welcome you all and thank you for taking the time and joining us tonight. It is amazing to see so many like-minded women in the same room. I hope you all had a chance to mingle and network with each other. If not, don’t worry, we have some more networking time after the talks.

Aaratee Rao: We have a number of interesting talks to share with you this evening. But before that, I would like to take few minutes to introduce Microsoft Bay Area to you all, who we are, what we do, and how we work together to build innovative products at scale for our customers. I’ve been at Microsoft for only 14 months. So I wanted to start with a short story about my journey to Microsoft, and why I decided to join this company.

Aaratee Rao: I’m a recent hire into Microsoft, but not to the tech industry. I’ve been working in the tech industry for over 17 years now in a wide range of companies, from a startup, with less than 50 people, to a hyper growth company like Uber, where I worked for close to four years, and some organization grow from few hundreds to few thousands of employees. I’ve also worked at some large Fortune 500 companies like Visa, Intuit, and

Aaratee Rao: I started my career as an engineer, and then grew into leadership roles. Working at such a diverse set of companies for so many years gave me exposure to different technologies, products, industries, and also different company cultures. This exposure gave me clarity on what is really important to me as I’m exploring a new role, or a new company for my next career move. While I was working at Uber, and Microsoft approached me with a new exciting job opportunity, I applied that same criteria to Microsoft, which can be summarized into three things. Number one is people, number two is product, and number three is growth.

Aaratee Rao: Let me explain these three areas further and my decision to join Microsoft. My number one requirement was people. I believe that the most important driver of any company’s success is its culture, and the people who help build that culture. For many of us, a large portion of our day is spent at work. In fact, there is proven research data that one third of a lifetime is spent at work. So it is safe to say that our job and the people we work with can have a big impact on the quality of a life.

Aaratee Rao: Like many of you in the audience, I personally thrive in a workplace where people are not only passionate about what they’re doing, but they also create a supportive and respectful environment for everyone around them. I found all the Microsoft employees that I met as part of my interview process to be smart, humble, open to new ideas, and inclusive in their thinking, which I really liked. Microsoft employees are encouraged to apply growth mindset to their work every single day, which is a mindset shift from know it all to learn it all. It starts with a fundamental belief that every person can learn and develop.

Aaratee Rao: My number two requirement was product. Now, it is important to me that I’m working on a product that helps create a positive impact in people’s lives. Microsoft creates technology so that others can create more technology. In today’s world, every walk of life in every industry is being shaped by digital technology. Microsoft’s mission becomes even more important. I was also super thrilled to learn that Microsoft Bay Area teams work on a wide range of products, from the intelligent cloud offering Azure, which is using cutting edge technologies like AI and machine learning, to a product like Microsoft Teams, which is reinventing productivity and collaboration, and also Microsoft hardware teams that you will learn more about tonight from our speakers.

Aaratee Rao: My number third requirement was growth. Microsoft has seen tremendous growth over the past few years under Satya’s leadership. This growth has created more opportunities for employees to make an impact. Besides this, the company has also undergone a major culture transformation under the new leadership. Diversity and inclusion is a core priority for the company, and part of employee performance review. Microsoft leaders believe that for a company to be successful, and keep growing for a long period of time, we need more than a good idea and a good strategy. We need a culture that fosters growth and enables employees to build new capabilities. I was super happy to see Microsoft adopting open source technologies, and also giving back to the open source community.

Aaratee Rao: Clearly, Microsoft met all my requirements and exceeded my expectations. Here I am, and it’s been a fun and amazing ride so far. With that, let me introduce our Bay Area teams to you all. Bay Area is popularly known as a hub for innovation all around the world. Microsoft’s presence here, and all the product development that we do here is also rooted in innovation. Our presence here means that Microsoft can participate in conversations with startups. All employees, Bay Area employees embody that startups [inaudible] off the Silicon Valley to drive a company through innovation. We have offices in three locations: San Francisco, Berkeley, and Sunnyvale.

Aaratee Rao: This is our company’s mission. Our mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more. There is no way we can achieve this mission without representing the world. That means diversity. Diversity when it comes to gender, diversity when it comes to ethnicity, and diversity when it comes to skills, all of this is required for innovation. But it does not stop here. We believe that having diversity is not enough innovation, but we must foster a culture where people who are coming from diverse backgrounds can do the best work. That is why inclusion is so important, as it stimulates creativity and innovation.

Aaratee Rao: We also believe that having a deep sense of empathy is extremely important for innovation. As a primary job is to meet the unmet and unarticulated needs of our customers. At Bay Area, we are investing in multiple programs, which are specially designed for a diverse group of individuals. We value and celebrate diversity in a variety of ways. We have multiple employee resource groups that celebrate others, educate our allies, and ensure that all employees continue to learn and grow along the journey at Microsoft.

Aaratee Rao: We also encourage enthusiast, hobbyist, and creative people to enrich the experience of Microsoft. We have multiple community groups for folks interested in cycling, running, music, dance, and community service. We also have a company-sponsored corporate program called The Garage. The Garage offers classes to employees to learn new technologies. They also regularly invite external speakers to come in and share their perspective on a new technology.

Aaratee Rao: This is my last slide, and with this I’m giving you a sneak peek into our new Bay Area campus that we all are very excited about. This campus is being built in Mountain View location and will be ready this summer. This will bring all the South Bay employees under one roof, which will improve the employee interaction and will definitely improve innovation. Also, this the greenest yet building of Microsoft, and has been built with employee-centric design in mind. It has a lot of natural light and movable workspaces.

Aaratee Rao: These days, we talk a lot more about work-life integration more than work-life balance. This site will have multiple recreational facilities on site so that employees can seamlessly move from their work into life. With that, I would like to conclude my talk and invite Safiya for the next talk. Thank you for listening.

Safiya Miller: All right, good evening, everyone.

Audience: Good evening.

Safiya Miller: Oh, you can do better than that. Good evening, everyone.

Audience: Good evening.

Microsoft Strategic Account Executive Safiya Miller gives a talk on the first 90 days of a new job at Microsoft Hardware Girl Geek Dinner. Microsoft Strategic Account Executive Safiya Miller gives a talk on what to do in the first 90 days of a new job at Microsoft Hardware Girl Geek Dinner.   Erica Kawamoto Hsu / Girl Geek X

Safiya Miller: Didn’t you guys have awesome drinks and food outside? Come on. Well, everyone, my name is Safiya Miller. I’m super excited to be here. This is my first Girl Geek experience. I changed out of my Microsoft digs, but I am a Microsoft employee as well. By day I’m at Microsoft as a strategic account executive, Adobe’s my client. By night and by early morning, work-life integration that was just there, I am a fashion designer. Thank you. I’m wearing some of my pieces right now as well. If you have questions about how you can take advantage of pursuing your passions and really making the most out of what’s most important to you, definitely speak to me afterwards.

Safiya Miller: Today, I’m going to speak about the first 90 days. This doesn’t just mean the first 90 days in a new job, it means the first 90 days, particularly maybe at the same company, but in a new team. There’s three things you need to know and to make them count in Silicon Valley. They are managing yourself, managing team and colleagues, and managing the person that probably has the biggest factor of priority on your success at that company, managing your manager. Surprising to anybody, these three things? Make sense? Okay.

Safiya Miller: I know we’re at a Girl Geek hardware session, but these are critical for every portion industry of where you are in Silicon Valley for success, and I’ll tell you a little more about that right now. Managing yourself. The key to success is to start before you are ready. What does that mean? We talked about culture earlier. It’s one thing to read about a culture, to read about what Satya is doing, to hear what growth mindset means, but are you actually seeing it? Have you spoken to the Microsoft employees today and talked to them about what that means for them day to day? Was it a driver in them coming to this company? These are important things that you can figure out before you start, and you certainly should make a priority as soon as you’re on the job.

Safiya Miller: For me, this was important because I studied psychology and Spanish at Harvard undergrad, went into finance, a traditional analyst’s route after undergrad, and this managing yourself piece is important because I knew that working abroad was important to what I wanted to do in my career. As soon as I started, I was able to clearly identify something that was important in my career trajectory, which was an international experience. Managing yourself means you should have a blueprint of what’s important to you and your career, and where you want to see yourself.

Safiya Miller: That’s really important to identify in this first 90 days. You should also be able to identify how can this company, or this role, this team help you achieve those goals? Have you read the 10K? Have you listened to the latest earnings call? Have you spoken to anybody on your team about what the street really cares about for Microsoft, or for the company that you’re interested in, or the team that you’re on? What’s really moving the dollar, the needle? Those are the questions that sometimes get overlooked. But that’s really what’s keeping the lights on.

Safiya Miller: When you ground yourself in those things, this is how managing yourself sets you up for success. [inaudible] have a power outfit. I happen to be wearing one. You know what’s funny, because … and I know there’s a lot of allies in the audience, which is amazing. Can all the women raise their hands, all the women? [inaudible] raise the roof. Okay. All right. I just can make it clear here. I think we get a lot of feedback about what you should wear as a woman, specifically in tech, and how style doesn’t matter, or what you wear doesn’t matter. But if you think about it, can you easily identify what Steve always wore, audience?

Audience: Yes.

Safiya Miller: Okay. What about Scott? Scott Guthrie for our Microsoft employees, what is he known for?

Speaker 1: Red T-shirt.

Safiya Miller: Red T-shirt. Did I just say we were in an industry that said they didn’t care about style? Now, I’m not saying that it has to be glitz and glam, but they have something that’s predictable, something that makes their day to day easy on managing yourself. There’s so many speaking opportunities, there’s so many opportunities for women to thrive. I really feel like your brand, and what you’re wearing and presenting is just as important as what you have to say, and what you bring to the table.

Safiya Miller: This is just an example of a power outfit. I personally developed my fashion brand around statement pieces when I was speaking to women who were struggling with the most revered resource, time. They couldn’t think about what they could just pull out of their closet or travel with, to just have on the road and be ready to go on stage and command a room. So I made these statement pants.

Safiya Miller: But it doesn’t have statement pants for you, right? But I’m just giving you an example because pants for me are easy. I love color, and now I have a statement outfit that is a go to, when people think of Safiya, they know that when she commands a room, she’s going to have on a statement pants, she may have on a blazer, a fun pop of color, and she’s also going to tell you some awesome things about fashion. She might talk to you about what Adobe’s doing. It’s starting to build that story and predictability. Again, think about things that are manageable, that make the stress out of your life removed, because you have some routine that makes sense.

Safiya Miller: Let’s switch to managing your manager. I love these little cartoons. Who read any of these growing up? Yeah. All right, Career 101. This one stands out because there’s such a long list of priorities. But do you know the definition of priorities? Can you have a long list of priorities, and they really be priorities? Probably not. But this is important, because your manager only knows what you’re telling them. Right? There’s a variety of things that motivate each of us in this room to come and do our jobs day to day. It’s important to manage your manager so that they know what’s important to you. What’s the driver to you? Is it the money? Is the project that you work on? Is it creativity? Is it growth? Those kind of things are important for you to take ownership of and share with your manager so that they can be an advocate for you.

Safiya Miller: Force yourself to have those hard, but necessary, conversations with your boss. I know it’s hard, and I know that a lot of us procrastinate. I’ll raise my hand. Sometimes I do too, especially on those harder conversations. But guess what, the longer you wait to happen, the worse it is. Whether it’s a vacation that you already had planned, whether it’s through thinking through growth around the company, and maybe wanting to explore another team, but you need their advocacy, these kind of conversations that are important to you, that may seem challenging for your manager, a good manager is here to be an advocate for you, and really see you grow into an amazing employee, and potentially another manager if you want to be one yourself. But again, they only know that if that is something that you’ve expressed to them. Managing your manager, being clear, speaking up up front, those things work in your benefit.

Safiya Miller: Managing your team and colleagues. I’ll give you guys a second to just take this in. Does this girl talk about hardware? Why are you taking career advice from me? This is a good one because I think sometimes when we talk about mentorship and sponsorship, we get caught up in what that needs to look like. Do I need to be mentored specifically by Satya to make it to the top? There’s probably a short list of people who are going to actually have that opportunity.

Safiya Miller: But if you look around, right, about people that work hard, I’m not saying don’t work hard, you absolutely should, but work smart. Think about the people on your team that are working smart and are being acknowledged for what they’re doing. Right? Those are the people that you might want to take some time to spend with. Doesn’t necessarily have to be someone that’s two skip levels above you. Could be someone that’s right on your team. I think we under-evaluate sometimes our own peer network, and how powerful that is.

Safiya Miller: This comment speaks to it a bit. Networking horizontally. There was a study on LinkedIn where it says 70% of people that get positions in jobs already knew somebody at that company. Could have been a colleague or a classmate. Probably not the CEO. I’m just stating the facts here and the numbers.

Safiya Miller: Can everybody take out their phone if you don’t have it out. Okay. Go to the LinkedIn (mobile) app. Give you guys a minute, as you’re thinking about who you’re reaching out to, and turn on the Bluetooth. Okay? Bluetooth is already on? Great. Some of you may already know this hack, but I’m setting you up for success when I finish. Okay? Go to the bottom screen. There’s the five buttons. Five GUIs here, my network. Click on “My Network” and then on the bottom right, there’s an icon with the figure and a plus. You can either click “Find Nearby”, “OK”, or “QR code”.

Safiya Miller: Click on “Find Nearby”. You’re activating this entire room right now. Okay? I’m helping you save so much time for later. You’re welcome. This is fantastic. Honestly, the reason I’m sharing this is because, again, networking horizontally … No one’s on? These people next to you aren’t on? Just give it a second. Okay. Use this later when you go and connect outside as well. But this is fantastic when you’re in sessions where there’s a lot of people group like this.

Safiya Miller: The other thing you can also do is to find the QR code. Okay? Everybody has a QR code, you just scan it. Those are the two options. But this piece, before you go on and start adding everybody, this is huge. Can we have coffee, because I’m trying to do X, and I’d love to hear your advice on Y? I put this up here because can I pick your brain? Can we catch up, with no indication of time or when? Those are time sucks. You should be really intentional about the people that you want to network with. What specific skill set do they have that you want to learn more about? How are you trying to grow?

Safiya Miller: Be specific, be intentional, do your research. Trust me, the other person, the other side will be appreciative and more likely to take the time to meet with you and have that coffee. Do the homework. Follow up intentionally when someone gives you advice. Keep that connection open and going.

Safiya Miller: I gave you guys the gift early, but because you’re in … because I’m awesome. Thank you. Because we’re in the Bay Area, I’m going to also give you guys another gift, right, because I want to know who’s in the room. East Bay, can I hear East Bay? Okay. Berkeley. North Bay, Marin? Nobody? That’s kind of far. Okay. San Francisco, the city. South Bay. All right. They’re rollin’ deep.

Safiya Miller: Again, I’m trying to help you get these obvious things. Where do you live? Where’d you come from out the way? Most of you guys are in South Bay. Okay, you live in the bay. Get specific. You came here tonight. You have so much potential in the audience. What do you want to grow? Where do you see yourself at the end of the year? I’m certain someone in here can share something with you that will make that impactful and valuable. Make the most of your first 90 days, manage yourself, manage your team and your colleagues, and most certainly, manage your manager. Thank you so much.

Microsoft Senior Director of Silicon & System Architecture Elene Terry gives a talk about how to leverage your silicon expertise to move into a category that lets you do your best work at Microsoft Hardware Girl Geek Dinner.  Erica Kawamoto Hsu / Girl Geek X

Elene Terry: [inaudible]. Let’s see if this is working. Thank you. I’m going to start by taking you back to 2011. At the time, I was working at a semiconductor company, and it was working on super cool products. I was working on Xbox, I was working on graphics cards, and I was doing the work that I really love. But something was missing. I would go home, I complained to my husband about everything. I was unmotivated by work. I did an Iron Man. If you’ve ever trained for an Iron Man. It’s like a full time job just training for an Iron Man.

Elene Terry: My husband, he would say, “Elene, go fix it, go find another job, go find something that inspires you.” I did. I went out, I got several job offers, but I sat on them. In fact, I sat on one for almost six months. As I was thinking about them, I knew something was missing, but I couldn’t figure out what it was. Then I got my offer from Microsoft. As I contemplated the offer, I probably was thinking about it maybe the same way you’re thinking about it. Why would a hardware engineer go to Microsoft?

Elene Terry: I’m an ASIC design engineer by training, and at my previous company, there were thousands of people just like me. But as I thought about it, I thought, “If I go to Microsoft, I’ll be kind of unusual. I’ll have some opportunities that I didn’t have before.” I got really excited, and so I came to Microsoft. I took this risk and I came to Microsoft. I’m going to start by showing you a video. This was not put together for me, but it really resonates to my message. Let’s see if it start.

Elene Terry: When I came to Microsoft, I started by working on Xbox. This was what I was working on before. Thank you. Strings and cost downs. I worked on bringing 4K content to Xbox, pretty similar to what I was doing before. But then things started to change, and I worked on HoloLens as [inaudible]. The HPU, I’ll talk about a little bit more later. Silicon for the display, and then bringing that same technology to IoT devices. I think there’s an Azure Kinect out in hall, to go explore with. Then silicon for the data center. I think we have an Azure Stack Edge presentation later too. I’ll talk a little bit more about that. We can see it’s taken on a lot of different forms while I’ve been at Microsoft.

Elene Terry: You can see it’s been a totally exciting seven years for me. I’m going to start by showing you some examples. This is the HPU. I love this picture. It’s beautiful. The HPU is the Holographic Processing Unit. This is the main piece of silicon that’s in the HoloLens. When I came to Microsoft, I worked on HoloLens 1, the HPU 1. I used some of my expertise to work on interconnects and memory controllers. As time progressed, we worked on HPU 2. It’s a pretty small team, there were only five of us.

Elene Terry: Now, I had an opportunity to become the SOC architect. What that meant is I was responsible for trying to figure out everything that went in this piece of silicon. I would never have had this opportunity at my previous company. Remember, there were thousands of people like me, but at Microsoft, I had this opportunity. For instance, as I was working on the HPU, I was introduced to new techniques, things like low power, analytical models for low power, power projections, power modeling.

Elene Terry: At my previous company, there were people that did this. It was an entire team that did this. But at Microsoft, there was no one. I had to go and learn it, so there was just a small team of us trying to figure it out. It was super exciting.

Elene Terry: Then I got to work on the entire device. Remember, Microsoft is a vertical company, so meaning we build the entire device in-house. You can see the HPU is demarked by the heart. So I started to get to work on the device. This is what we call the MLB. I call it the crab board. You can see all these little notches cut out from it in order to fit in a thermally constrained environment. It was super cool, right? Because I was at Microsoft, I got to see this vertical integration. I got to work on things that I just didn’t have the exposure to prior in my career.

Elene Terry: As I started working on this, I started working on more and more different types of trade off analysis. At the time, I had no idea what they were called. I now call this work systems engineering. It meant I was working with all kinds of different teams. User experiences team, algorithms team, firmware team, silicon teams, mechanicals, ID, thermal teams, electricals and interconnect, system validation, sensors display, and I was doing trade off analysis between all of them.

Elene Terry: I’m not sure if people are familiar with the other picture of Microsoft on the internet. But this is how it’s like for me. What I found is that people, they wanted to work with me. They had not previously had this exposure to the hardware trade off analysis. So people from all of these disciplines wanted to work with me. They wanted to understand how their part of the system worked together. Then most recently, I’ve been pivoting to work on silicon in the data center. Taking all of those same experiences, trying to figure out how we can build silicon that leverages the experiences we have, and is able to go to scale in the data center.

Elene Terry: When I talked about all of this in the past, people have come up to me and said, “Elene, how did you have the confidence to make all of these transitions? How did you have the confidence–How did you convince your boss that you could do this?” The short answer is I didn’t. I would go home to my husband all the time, almost every night, and I would cry, and I’d tell him, “I don’t know what I’m doing. I am bad at my job. I don’t know what to do next.” But what was important is that I showed up at work with confidence.

Elene Terry: I adhere to fake it till you make it. I’m not sure if people are familiar with Amy Cuddy’s research. She has one of the most watched TED talks of all time, and her research is on power positions, and how power poses change our behavior. Why not? A superwoman pose. But what really resonated with me in her talk was when she talks about having a car accident when she was 19. When she was 19, as she’s recovering, she discovers that her IQ has dropped almost two standard deviations. She talks about how she recovers from that, how every time she goes to a new role, she feels like she has to fake it.

Elene Terry: She says she just kept faking it one step at a time until she becomes a Harvard researcher. She says, “If you feel like you shouldn’t be somewhere, fake it, do it not until you make it, but do it until you become it.” The reason that really resonated with me is because you have to fake it, not just till you make it, not just until you are able to do the job, but you have got to fake it until you become it, in the sense that I had to fake it until I felt comfortable doing the job, that I didn’t go home and cry every evening that I couldn’t do my job.

Elene Terry: What does this mean for you? For me, it meant that I was able to leverage my unique expertise to really step out of my box, out of my comfort zone, and be able to leverage that for new experiences. I’m now running an organization that works on all of the roles that I talked about today. For me, I’ve so much more motivated. I come to work present and excited. I have no more time to run an Iron Man. I’ve just been so lucky to be able to identify where I fit in. What I hope for all of you is that you’re able to leverage that, your own unique talent, to find your own niche, to find something that motivates you and allows you to bring your best self.

Elene Terry: Thank you so much. I’m going to be outside answering questions about silicon, hardware, and I’d love to talk to all of you about anything in Microsoft.

Microsoft Mechanical Engineer Carolyn Lee gives a talk on HoloLens at Microsoft Hardware Girl Geek Dinner. Microsoft Mechanical Engineer Carolyn Lee gives a talk on HoloLens at Microsoft Hardware Girl Geek Dinner.  Erica Kawamoto Hsu / Girl Geek X

Carolyn Lee: Hello, how’s it going? All right. Mics are good to go. Hi, everybody. I’m Carolyn, and I am an engineer on the mechanical team for HoloLens. When Josh asked me to speak at this event, at first, I wasn’t exactly sure. This isn’t something I normally do. I realized I get to stand up here and talk to you guys for 10 minutes about something that I look forward to waking up and working on every day. So let’s just get right to it.

Carolyn Lee: A little bit of background about myself. I started off at Microsoft as an intern during the summer of 2017. They were crazy enough to let me to come back the summer of 2018 to intern again, and I started as a full time engineer here last August during the summer of 2019.

Carolyn Lee: Before we get going, how many of you guys know what HoloLens is? Nice. Awesome. How many of you guys have gotten to try HoloLens 2? Great. For those of you that haven’t, I would highly recommend trying out one of the demos outside before you go. We have Silicon Valley’s finest out there leading all of the demos. For those of you that don’t know what HoloLens is, HoloLens is an augmented reality or mixed reality device that projects laser images onto your eye to allow you to overlay holographic images on your real world.

Carolyn Lee: Unlike virtual reality in which everything that you’re seeing around you is fake, augmented reality actually allows you to see the world around you, put objects onto that world, and it enhances the way that you can interact with your space as well as people, both near and far from you. HoloLens 1 was actually released as a dev kit. It was released for developers to come up with software and create programs that would run on this device, which created a really interesting environment because it was now being used across a wide variety of industries in which developers thought it would be most useful.

Carolyn Lee: One of these industries was the medical field. Doctors can actually wear this device and overlay CAT scans on their patients to know exactly what they’re operating on before they start an operation. I was actually talking to my sister on the phone the other night, and she had mentioned how one of her friends in med school uses HoloLens as their main training device for one of their classes, which I thought was super cool, one, for the use, and also because he just mentioned this in passing because he thought it was so cool, not because he knew that she had a sister that worked on HoloLens.

Carolyn Lee: What does our product design team here actually do for HoloLens? Our product design team creates all the parts that you can actually feel and see in the product. That’s everything from design to manufacturing, to assembly, to troubleshooting later on. We’re working cross-functionally with our sensors team, our optics team, our EE team, human factors to make sure that we’re taking in all the user research into account, to try and create a device that’s going to meet everybody’s needs and requirements, and create the best experience for the user itself.

Carolyn Lee: A little bit about my career here. I started off as an intern back in the summer 2017, like I said before, and my first summer I was working on scaling the fit system prototype. The fit system is how the device actually goes on to your head, and scaling being taking it from one device to say 20 prototypes that we could then use in user studies. This is particularly relevant because one of the main points of feedback that we got from HoloLens 1 was that the device needed to be more comfortable. This is important because when a user puts on the device, we want this to be an immersive experience. We want them to transition from reality to mixed reality without even knowing that they’ve put this device on their head. That’s why comfort was so important.

Carolyn Lee: I got to work with a great manager who had did a bunch of research into what the center of gravity of the device was, what moment was this putting on your neck, how is this affecting the user experience, how heavy was the device, how could this device actually be worn for an extended period of time? I got to work on trying to scale a prototype that was going to be then be used for human factors research. Then with that, I also got to work with a super experienced engineer who was my mentor throughout my two internships, and pick his brain on how he did design, and what was important to him, and what were things that he was looking for.

Carolyn Lee: With that, it was a very hands-on experience, because with prototyping, comes actually creating the prototypes. HoloLens has a great resource here in the Silicon Valley. Brian Golden in the back leads our machine shop, and I got to work with them a lot. Yes, big round of applause for Brian. I got to work with them a lot throughout this process, and really what it did for me in my first internship ever, that summer after sophomore year of college, was take academia and make it real. It made it tangible, and it made me excited to continue on the mechanical engineering track, and made me really excited to come back the next summer.

Carolyn Lee: The next summer I came back, and I actually got to own my own part that summer. It’s a very small part, so I could actually run it through the whole design cycle in that three months. Designing it, working with vendors overseas to get it manufactured, bringing it back here, working in the shop to run it through some lifecycle testing to see how this is actually going to perform over the span of its time, and use this to inform our design later on. I really enjoyed the responsibility of getting to own my own part and work with different teams.

Carolyn Lee: I got to work with the reliability team a lot that summer to understand a broader scope of the design cycle, which became really important when I was working as a full time engineer, because right when I started we hopped into our first, or I hopped into my first full fledged design cycle. There wasn’t really much in the way of bringing up time, but I actually liked that because it made me feel like I was coming in and making an immediate impact that I was going to get to be able to work on meaningful work right away, which I really enjoyed.

Carolyn Lee: My first internship, it made academia real. My second internship gave me a dose of what the design cycle is like, and being here full time, I think I’ve started to realize how much the people are super important. The first two summers, I got to work with a great manager and a great mentor that gave me a little taste of that. But coming back full time, I realize how important it is to be surrounded by people that want to help you learn, want to help you grow, and are all working towards the same goal.

Carolyn Lee: An example of that is Edwin, who was one of the other engineers on our team, had plenty on his plate to keep him busy during this design cycle. But he was working on parts. He had worked on parts in the past that were similar to what I was working on now, and whenever I needed help with anything–I had a lot of questions starting out, and whenever I needed help with anything, he was always right there to help me. “What can I do to help you? What resources can I provide?” If he didn’t know the answer, he knew who to tell me to talk to, to find out that answer.

Carolyn Lee: I think the most impressive part about that was, I never once felt like he was rushing to get back to his own work, even though he had plenty there to keep him busy. He was there to make sure that I could be as successful as possible. On the other side of it, not just in terms of technical support, being early in my career, and not always knowing where to go and what to do, Teresa, who shares the office next to me is in the back, she’ll love the attention, was really great about making sure that I knew what to look for in my career at this point. She said, “I was in your shoes four years ago, and here are the things that you should be looking for, and this is what you might want to look out for in terms of your career, and what do you want to do.”

Carolyn Lee: It was really nice to be able to have resources both on the technical side, and I felt like my peers were looking out for me in terms of making sure that I felt as supported as I needed to, which as a young engineer looking for a job and trying to figure out where exactly I want to take my career early on, I think the thing that was most important to me was that I was going to be somewhere I felt like I could develop, and that I could learn, and I was going to be pushed to grow as an engineer.

Carolyn Lee: I think that one of the most exciting things about working on HoloLens is that it’s challenging. This is something that I remember from my very first interview back in the winter of 2016, when I was sitting in the room with Roy, who leads our mechanical team. He had said, “When you’re designing a product, you start off by looking at what’s been done before. You work on there and see which parts of this do we want to keep, which parts of this are we going to move away from?” He said that when they were creating HoloLens as an AR device, and they looked for examples, there were no examples. AR hadn’t been done before.

Carolyn Lee: That was exciting. It was challenging, there was no example to look at, but it was exciting because we get to be the people that create that example, that later on one day, a company is going to look at how they’re going to do this, and they’re going to look at HoloLens. We get to design the track that AR is going to take in the future. HoloLens, I felt was a place where I was going to be pushed as an engineer, I was going to be surrounded by bright and hardworking individuals, and it’s an opportunity to work on cutting edge technology, cutting edge technology that’s expanding industries and paving the path for what AR can do and will do to change our future. Thank you.

Microsoft Product Manager Shivani Pradhan gives a talk on Edge Computing at Microsoft Hardware Girl Geek Dinner.

Microsoft Product Manager Shivani Pradhan gives a talk on Edge Computing at Microsoft Hardware Girl Geek Dinner. Erica Kawamoto Hsu / Girl Geek X

Shivani Pradhan: [inaudible]. Oh, it gets better. We start with a very nice ad that they made. (music)

Shivani Pradhan: That’s the Azure Stack Edge device, and I’m a PM Azure Stack Edge team. I’ve been around for almost 19 years with a lot of engineering and business side experience at this point. I’m pretty new to Microsoft. I’ve been here, actually, just like Carolyn, I joined full time in August 2019, so almost six months now. The best thing I feel about Microsoft today is people. It feels like home.

Shivani Pradhan: My team was building these two products, and so they’ve been working really long, really, very hard. Being new in the team, when you approach somebody, you’re being mindful of not wasting their time. Also being conscious that you don’t want to take any dumb question to them. But everyone has been so embracing, so welcoming, not a frown on anybody’s face that you’re wasting their time. That’s very, very supporting. That is really encouraging at the same time. I’ve really enjoyed my ride last seven months, and I would encourage all of you to apply to Microsoft.

Shivani Pradhan: What is Edge Computing? Think of cloud computing and the cloud capabilities. Capabilities like artificial intelligence, machine learning, and pushing them from a public cloud to all these physical devices that are connected. Cloud ability on the Edge is basically Edge computing. You may ask, “Why bother, because a lot of these physical devices do not have great connectivity? In fact, a lot of them don’t have any connectivity at all.” In those circumstances, you want the compute power on the Edge, very close to the data because data has gravity.

Shivani Pradhan: That’s where Edge computing comes in. Microsoft over here has a wide range of devices that they bring to you for the intelligent Edge, literally from hyperscale cloud, where they have availability in 56 regions and over 140 countries to small integrated chips that they’ve put in every coffee machine with extremely high security, mindful of all the capabilities that they can bring to a coffee machine that is connected to the cloud, bringing the cloud capabilities to that machine, but the same time, making sure it’s super secure.

Shivani Pradhan: Right in the middle is the Edge device. That’s the team that I work for, and that’s one of the Azure-managed AI-enabled compute appliances that we build. It comes with hardware accelerated FPGAs. Those are integrated circuits, or Nvidia, supported Nvidia’s GPUs that you can put in there to really put high amount of boost power behind whatever compute you’re doing. You can run VMs on it, you can run Kubernetes on it. The best part is it’s completely Azure-managed, which means you go to Azure portal, you deploy your device, you can completely manage it without worrying about your IT. You can create a custom app and just push it to all your physical devices.

Shivani Pradhan: In addition to that, it is a storage gateway, which means in your disconnected mode, you have petabytes of storage to store data locally, and then you can push it to the cloud at your own pace, at your own schedule. Edge devices cover a variety of use cases. Some of the most popular ones are machine learning on the Edge. One of the most common cases that we are seeing is running intelligent AI and machine learning inferencing on the Edge.

Shivani Pradhan: For example, let me give you an example of Kroger, which is trying to look for shelf spaces which are empty. They run an AI model to detect those empty spaces. But what they found was that if they are last couple of boxes remaining, those shelves do not detect as empty. Interestingly, there’s a psychology behind when we go to pick a box, and that’s the last box, we don’t pick it. We’re like, “There must be something wrong. Why didn’t anyone else pick it?” There’s the last box of Cheerios. You look at it, and you’ll put it back, and you will not walk away with it. That shelf is not empty because it has one box sitting there.

Shivani Pradhan: They developed an intelligent AI model to actually detect that now there’s only one or two last boxes left. So instead of a customer walking and saying, “Hey, you’re out Cheerios,” or somebody walking up and down the aisle, and saying, “Okay, Cheerios out, this out, that out.” The model detects and right away informs, and so suddenly, your supply chain is working better. You’re keeping it stocked.

Shivani Pradhan: The second popular use case is Edge compute and IoT solutions. I have a full slide on that one, and the network transfer where you can actually decide your own pace of transferring your data to the cloud. Machine learning on the Edge is another very popular use case with drone footage. But I have an even better example. We all have seen or got messages on our phones when cops are looking for a specific car, where we see say, “Okay, this car, if you see it, please text.”

Shivani Pradhan: Think about it. We have tons of traffic police cameras all over the city. They all are collecting that feed. That feed gets collected, sent to the cloud. Six hours later, it tells the police saying, “That car passed over there, over there, over there.” Six hours later. Come on. In 2020, you want it to be instant. It should have said, “The car is passing this now, now,” so you can track it. Now, instead of blasting millions of people on their phone saying, “Did you see this car?” Right? That’s the immediate results of Edge processing, right, that camera could have directly, just on that quick processing on the Edge. It didn’t need to collect 20 petabytes of data, it just needed to do that quick inferencing and react to that. That reactivity, that quick response comes with reacting on the Edge, being closer to the data.

Shivani Pradhan: Similarly, filter with AI analysis. That’s near collisions. That’s actually something that state of Washington, couple of cities in state of Washington are already doing, where they’re collecting only one minute of data. They have AI models to figure out that a collision happened, or almost a near collision happened. They try to cut off the video feed 30 seconds before and after, and just that one minute is sent for further analysis, and figuring out, and influencing the traffic engineering. That is pretty cool.

Shivani Pradhan: Then lately, a lot of influence around privacy. We could actually do a lot of identification and blur it, blur the license plates, blur people’s faces. As your private data is anyways being shared, you at least feel a little at peace that it was not my face, that all the Google cars are collecting all over Mountain View. The last of the three cases that had [inaudible], the Edge compute and IoT solutions. You have, if you look at your phone today, you have tons of apps. But if you go and turn your WiFi off right now, 90% of the apps stop working. That’s because they are all cloud-based applications, and that’s where the world is headed.

Shivani Pradhan: Sure, we all have cloud-based apps. But that said, you want your cloud-based apps to work when you are in the basement, or when you are going through a tunnel, or in a deep forest. That’s what the Edge does for you. You actually continue running all your business cloud applications on the Edge, even in a disconnected mode. But at the same time, there’s certain legacy business apps, which were always made for the native applications, which do not run on the cloud. Your entire 90% of the portfolio has already migrated to the cloud. But now, you have these native apps that won’t run. Edge comes perfectly in the middle to connect the two places over there.

Shivani Pradhan: Then you have the perfect scenario where you actually want to take your applications down into the field. Like you were seeing in that very nice, fancy ad, things have broken down. Everything is not there, and you still need your maps, and you go to your online maps, they won’t work because the wires are down. But your Edge would work, and you can still do the overlays, you can still run your AI models, your drones can still fly around, take pictures, create overlays on top of that model. You update your model live on the Edge, and then you distribute at least to the disaster recovery teams, and they can keep working. So that’s taking applications into the field.

Shivani Pradhan: Then the most popular case, that’s how most of the Edge solutions started, was to do with transferring your data to the cloud. As more and more companies were trying to migrate, a lot of them constantly make a lot of data, and they want to keep pushing. But then there are some that want one large migration to go all of a sudden, and then those who know the Big O notation comes in over here saying, “Don’t send it over a pipe for 300 years. Right? Just put it on a plane and ship it, and that would be faster and cheaper.” That same way, you can decide your different models that works the best for you, and you could manage first because you only have a 10 millimeter pipeline, versus a big migration, versus constantly sending. You have all your options. It’s up to you. It’s your custom solution.

Shivani Pradhan: Esri is a company that actually works on providing maps, specifically in map-based technology for disaster situations. One of the previous examples I was giving was actually, that’s what Esri does. They, in a disaster situation, they load up a typical truck with sensors, cameras, drones, and an Edge, and they drive into the disaster zone. These drones fly around and take all kinds of pictures. Those pictures come back. Now, you have all kinds of junk as well in that picture. You run AI models on it and find the points of interest. Then you create overlays on the fly, and then you merge those overlays with your existing maps. Then you have a new map, which says, “Okay, two kilometers from here, you have a bridge broken. From here, there’s a fire, which is literally 0.5 miles away.” You can convert it on the fly of what data is important to that team, what are they looking for? Then you update the maps, and you’re able to actually do really effective work. This is something Esri is using Edge for today.

Shivani Pradhan: Let me tell you the story about this. This was a last minute slide. I’m so sorry. Doesn’t have a title. A few years back, there was a huge Ebola outbreak in Liberia, and USAID response team was put together and deployed to go work on a response for this. The team, when they landed on the ground in Liberia, their first task was to just find information and categorize information. That was not easy because they needed to go find out the state of healthcare centers, hospitals, find out the state of WiFi, find out the population density centers in that area. It was a very challenging task.

Shivani Pradhan: As they started piecemealing all that information together, this is a real whiteboard of that team that they put together. If you look at this, this is such a horribly complex and convoluted map to figure out how they’re going to provide support to healthcare centers in that environment with Ebola all around you. This was their index file. This was their index file to figure out things. The Edge team took on this mission saying, “Okay, how could we have helped them?” We did exactly that. We created an app in Azure on the cloud to actually just go and find information, and categorize information. But then, just what Edge is supposed to do, we decided to use cloud capabilities and enable all the cloud capabilities to it.

Shivani Pradhan: This is an Edge, which is actually running in a disconnected mode, and we uploaded a bunch of maps to it. Once you uploaded all the maps, it processed all those maps, and so you have some default information, PDFs, pictures, JPEGs, documents that have already been uploaded. Now, when you start enabling all the cloud cognitive services, so first thing that we would do is search for, it’s Ebola, healthcare centers. We could just search for the word hospital, for example. When you search for hospital, a healthcare facility comes up, various PDFs come up, and everything. But you look at that, that’s a JPEG. Okay. When you look at the JPEG, and you look specifically, enable the OCR on it, it can now convert the JPEG into readable doc. It can find text in it, and it has been able to detect all the hospital words in it.

Shivani Pradhan: Not only that, it actually found a French document, which also had a translation of the word hospital. I can’t see any word hospital over here. But when you go into translation, you actually see that it found the word hospital in the French translation of that. Like, “Okay, that was cool. I didn’t know French, but I did find that there is some hospital, which French organization found over there.” Now, when I go and look up the word Lofa, now, Lofa is where the Ebola had originated. It was the ground zero for that. When I looked at that, at that time, this map comes back. Why did it come back? Because the OCR technology in the cognitive services has a feature where it can actually read handwriting.

Shivani Pradhan: Not only that, it changed the JPEG into a readable format. It detected handwriting, and was able to read the word Lofa on that picture of the whiteboard. That was pretty enabling, and that was pretty helping. That’s all. Thank you so much.

Aaratee Rao: [inaudible] you hear me? All right. What an amazing set of talks. Can hear one more round of applause [inaudible].

Thank you for joining us at the sold-out Microsoft Hardware Girl Geek Dinner with HoloLens and Garage demos, great talks and even better company!
Thank you for joining us at the sold-out Microsoft Hardware Girl Geek Dinner with HoloLens and Garage demos, great talks and even better company!  Erica Kawamoto Hsu / Girl Geek X

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Episode 21: Listener Questions

Girl Geek Podcast Episode 21: Listener Questions

Resources mentioned in this podcast:


Angie Chang: Welcome to Girl Geek X podcast. Connecting you with insights from women in tech. This is Angie, founder of Girl Geek X and Women 2.0.

Sukrutha Bhadouria: And this is Sukrutha, by day I’m an engineering manager.

Gretchen DeKnikker: This is Gretchen. I’ve been working in tech for over 20 years.

Rachel Jones: This is Rachel, the producer of this podcast, and we’re the team behind Girl Geek X. This podcast brings you the best of Girl Geek X events, dinners, and conferences where we’ve been elevating women in tech for over 10 years.

Angie Chang: We’re back for season two and we’ve got some exciting things coming. For our first episode of the season, we’ll be answering your questions.

Rachel Jones: That’s right. You sent in questions a few months ago and now it’s time for answers, so let’s jump right into it.

Rachel Jones: Our first question, how do you strike a healthy balance between hustling to make your dreams happen and keeping mentally and physically healthy?

Sukrutha Bhadouria: Yeah, it’s hard. I think what my goal is every single day now, is to just try to do the top three things that need to get done in priority order and nevermind the rest of the things on my list. So I have a to-do this every day. I only do the top three things. I don’t try anything else, and that makes it a little bit easier on me. I also have this thing where if something takes a minute or less to do it, I just do it. So that includes like clearing a messy area in my house or scheduling a meeting that I seem to keep procrastinating on, or sending an email. So that’s helped me. But I can’t say I’ve [inaudible ]. That is still very difficult. It’s a challenge every single day and I don’t think there’s any sign of me solving it. I’m just going to try to get better at dealing with it.

Angie Chang: I think it’s really interesting how, in 2020, we are going to gyms and SoulCycles and people are just really into fitness right now. And I don’t know how to explain it. There’s this huge culture of, “If you don’t go the gym in your leggings three times a week, you are failing somehow”. And “if you’re not going to yoga class with your friends, if you’re not going to various bootcamp, you’re not taking care of yourself,” and I don’t know if that’s necessarily true. I feel like if you eat somewhat healthily and take it easy and don’t go to the gym, you can still be physically healthy without having done all these extra things. And then to the keeping mentally healthy, just boundaries and making sure that you feel good about what you’re doing. And the weekends you can work on your side projects and maybe just making sure you’re time boxing yourself to let yourself even read a book or journal and have gratitude and such. Rachel, what do you think?

Rachel Jones: Yeah. I think for me it’s really kind of a mindset thing, and just thinking about how much of my life I want to be taken up by career. And just remembering there’s more to life than my job and trying to do well and advance there. I think at the times where I feel the least balanced, it’s when I’m just thinking about work all the time. Coming home from work and just eating and going to bed and doing nothing else. But, when I remember it like, “Oh, there are other things in my life, like relationships to invest in or exercise to explore”. Or any other kind of option, and remembering like the day doesn’t end when the work day ends. Yeah. That’s what’s really helpful for me. And also therapy. Yeah. Everyone, go to therapy.

Gretchen DeKnikker: I second that for sure. It’s the one place where you can go every single week and there’s no stakeholder in the room. Like you can just be completely honest about whatever you’re feeling, in a way that you can’t with people in your life.

Angie Chang: Yeah, I also champion therapy a lot. Personal therapy. Also, I found support groups to be incredibly helpful for various things in your life. So it’s not just your own mind, but also kind of getting a broader perspective on other issues.

Rachel Jones: All right. Moving on. How do you deal with work drama?

Gretchen DeKnikker: Poorly. Oh, were these asking for suggestions on how to deal with that?

Rachel Jones: I think that’s probably the question, just a guess.

Rachel Jones: I think it’s just if you have an issue, talk to that person directly if you can before you talk about it with other people. Yeah, just creating and spreading things I think usually makes workplace drama worse.

Gretchen DeKnikker: I think you can just assume venting to anyone in your workplace about something is probably not safe. That’s a really good baseline assumption to make. Just cause tables turn and things happen and you never really know. Or you just might be venting and hot in the moment and then later you’re like, “I feel really bad for saying that”. And so it would just be better if it wasn’t said to someone that you work with.

Sukrutha Bhadouria: Yeah, I’d agree with that. I have colleagues first and then friends. I know a lot of people make lasting friendships from people they work–with people they meet at work. I learned very quickly that, treat people like colleagues first, they’re employees just like you. I think the best that you can do, is to stay away from the drama. Not participate, meaning not even be a listener to conversations that pop out of the drama. Extract yourself from it, and if it isn’t something that’s making you happy, I think just change the environment because you don’t want the environment to change you.

Angie Chang: What is work drama to people? Is it like the water cooler talk that you do or do not want to hear? Or is it when people bring a lot of emotions to work inevitably and just… Yeah, I agree with the idea that just finding a way to not wrap yourself into it and focus on the work and not a drama.

Angie Chang: It’s always easier said than done. I know when we’re in it we’re like, “Oh my God, it’s terrible,” and then you can step away and see that in some perspective.

Sukrutha Bhadouria: Yeah I’ve been in so many situations like that, but I found that the only way to have mental happiness is to really exit the situation completely. Whether it’s leaving the team, leaving the company, or just not being in areas where people typically talk about the drama or participate in the drama.

Rachel Jones: Our next question is more related to career advancement. So what are some ways you can have a conversation about moving up in your company and when should that start?

Angie Chang: I think that conversation can start as soon as you want it to start. I think always stating where you want to go and that’s not necessarily by title, but in terms of goals you have for yourself to learn to do. And then also how is that reflected? How are you rewarded by promotion or whatnot?

Gretchen DeKnikker: One thing we hear at the dinners a lot, and even at our annual Elevate virtual conference, like last year, I remember Leyla Seka, who was then the EVP at Salesforce, was talking, she did a session called “Always Ask for More,” and her thing was just let people know what you want, as soon as you want it. And that theme comes up a lot, especially when women that are fairly senior in their careers are talking at dinners. They’re always saying like, I think it was Robin from Survey Monkey had said, “I never got a promotion I didn’t ask for”. You don’t have to say, “I want this promotion”. You can say, “What do I need to do to get this? This is a goal of mine.” Let them know it’s a goal and then have them give you what they would need to see from you for it. Otherwise you don’t know.

Rachel Jones: I think this conversation should really start when you’re interviewing for the role. Yeah. You should be asking kind of what advancement looks like in this company. What that pathway would be. Yeah. What the opportunities are. And then as soon as you start kind of building this plan like, okay, here’s what I’m interested in, where I might want to go. Yeah. What do you need to see for me in order to get there? Like really as soon as you start.

Gretchen DeKnikker: Yeah. And if you have a boss and particularly somebody who signals that in an interview, that’s a boss that you want. Who’s trying to figure that out and not in some generic like, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” But being more like, “I know you want to go in this direction, here’s the skills and here’s how we can build them in your current role.”

Sukrutha Bhadouria: Before I even ask what I need to do… Actually, I look around me after I’ve joined the company or the team to see what role it is that I see other people doing that I think is something that’s interesting to me. I go ahead and talk to those people and ask them. Get more information on what I think they might’ve done to get to that role. And then I also talk to people who helped, either managed or mentored people who got to the role that I wanted, and ask them what they look for when they grow people to that role. And that’s helped me tweak or create a list of things that I believe I would need to get to that role or next level. Creating a list like this is often helped me create opportunities that either didn’t already exist or identify opportunities that weren’t available.

Rachel Jones: So one question that we got, is how do you overcome insecurities throughout your career?

Gretchen DeKnikker: If it’s something that I’m just terrified of, it’s like I’m going to run through all of the scenarios of how this could go wrong. And once I feel like I’ve come up with the very worst possible thing that could happen, which is generally not that bad of a thing, right? When it’s mostly just like you’re having some just sort of internal crisis of confidence. And then when it’s like, well the worst thing that can happen is they say no. Like, okay then I’m going to go do it. And then if I can’t convince myself that way, then sometimes I just start… it’s almost like I close my eyes but I don’t. But I just start having words come out of my mouth and then it’s like started, and then I can’t stop it. And then it’s over, whatever it was that I was just feeling really worried about addressing or asking for.

Rachel Jones: Yeah, I think that’s helpful. I try to think about like, okay, what are you actually afraid of? [crosstalk 00:11:48] Yeah, really similar. Just doing that worst case scenario situation. It’s like, okay wait, if this actually does happen, it’s fine.

Gretchen DeKnikker: Right.

Rachel Jones: We’ll keep living.

Gretchen DeKnikker: So they said no, okay, that’s answered and now I can stop having this dialogue in my head 24 seven.

Angie Chang: I think a way that I look at the fear based, try to do something new is not just trying to focus on just one thing, and just trying to create two or three different goals. So going after them at the same time so that, sure if I get nos or things don’t work out, I’ll still have another option as a way to not just feel like I just need to do this one thing.

Sukrutha Bhadouria: Yeah. So what I do when I have insecurities is that I like dig into why I feel that insecure about something. What is it that I’m feeling insecure about? Is it the lack of knowledge? Is it something about my style? And I try to see if I can fix what’s causing it. If I’m feeling like I don’t know something and as it is very, very quiet in a meeting, if there’s a followup meeting or the next meeting and I try to read up and study before that. So then I can come prepared to participate. So there are things like that, that I typically do. Not all of it works. It’s not like I never feel insecure as it is after that. But yeah, that’s the sort thing I try to do, whenever it’s possible.

Angie Chang: I also feel like a way to overcome insecurity is ask yourself what would a mediocre white man do in this situation? And then I’d be like, yes, I know what to do now.

Rachel Jones: Next question. How important are degrees and credentials versus work experience?

Gretchen DeKnikker: Practically speaking, obviously work experience is much more important. In this little echo chamber that we live in where people have gone to a handful of different schools, and the people who are hiring went to those handful of different schools and they’ve all decided that that makes them all amazing, and they look around, and they nod, and they agree with each other that they’re super extra amazing for having gone to these handful of schools, and they recruit from those schools and then they say there’s a pipeline problem. That’s the reality of it. And so it depends on, are you talking about getting your foot in the door or are you talking about actually being really good at your job, right?

Rachel Jones: Yeah. This brings me back to the conversation that we had where the sad truth of it is, a lot of people who do hiring do put a lot of weight on the degrees that you have and specifically where those degrees came from. Even though when you kind of look at people’s actual performance, it doesn’t really make that big of a difference. That’s still kind of the shorthand that people have instead of really trying to understand you and what you can bring. It’s like, oh, they went to Stanford, so I know they’re good. I don’t really have to check that deeply.

Gretchen DeKnikker: Right.

Angie Chang: I think work experience is the most important thing. And I think the question really is what happens when you’re starting out and you don’t have work experience or a degree. And being able to get that chance is really important.

Rachel Jones: Yeah. So kind of flowing from that. Is an MBA a worthwhile investment if you plan to stay in the startup world long term?

Gretchen DeKnikker: The one with the MBA will answer. Sure. You have to think about what you think you’re going to get from it, and is that worth the trade off? So for me, I went because it was nuclear winter in Silicon Valley way back at the turn of the century when all of the companies failed. And so I was trying to figure out, I wanted to leave the startup that I was at, there were literally no other startups in the world, it felt like. And so I decided to go back to school partially, like what I was talking about before is I really needed, I thought I needed like more of a pedigree. I’d gone to like a no-name undergrad and it didn’t really matter that I got two degrees in five years and paid for 100% of school myself and was the first one in my family to graduate from college. Like none of that really mattered because I went to a school that no one had ever heard of and that was in my head, and something that I thought was important.

Gretchen DeKnikker: So I went to business school because I wasn’t going to go do something else at the time. But if you’re going to go to a top tier school, you’re spending a year applying. You’re spending a bunch of money. Getting ready for the GMAT and applying to different schools and probably visiting those schools. Factor that in, not just two years of lost income. And then how has this degree going to help you when you get into the world? Like, I actually appreciate mine because it gave me, I had like all of this on the job bits and pieces that I’d learned at my first startup, which we already covered. It was during the crazy years, the very, very, very crazy years. And so I felt like I’d learned a lot in a really short amount of time and the business school sort of helped me figure out how all those different pieces fit together. I think it’s really benefited me. But if it had been a prosperous time in startup land and there’d been other places to go, I probably wouldn’t have even considered it.

Gretchen DeKnikker: So it’s mostly what do you want to get out of it? What is it going to cost you?

Angie Chang: I think some people get MBAs because they want to learn something, and they want to be able to feel more competent asking for more salary. And for that reason they decide that it’s worth taking off that time and that putting in that money. And also consider, is there a way to work at a bigger company and have them pay for your MBA? I’ve heard people do that and it worked out better for them than for other people. But also I think MBAs, I feel from my perspective, no one says, I wish I didn’t get my MBA but I also don’t know if anyone’s like, yes, you must all get MBAs. That’s not something I really hear. So I personally am erring on the side of, I like to think that you can learn most things in the workplace and you can learn most things from other people. And if you have someone in your life or on your team or on YouTube that you can get most of it without taking off those two years.

Rachel Jones: I also have spoken with people who have done MBA programs or are currently in them, and not having a great time. I think if there’s something really specific that you want to learn, or something really specific that you want to get out of it and you have to get all of this general knowledge, then that can be a little frustrating. So there might be a better route if there’s a really specific thing that you’re trying to do. Like I had a friend who, she really wanted a specific internship in a specific industry and thought that yeah, she had to like get her whole MBA to do that. And then got that internship after a couple months and is now like, wait, why? Why am I here? Am I going to keep doing this?

Angie Chang: It sounds so prescriptive. Like, if you want to do something different, get an MBA. If you want to do something, you have to go back to grad school, or you need a PhD to do that. But I feel like in 2020, we have learned that to pursue knowledge, you don’t have to go to school for that in that prescriptive way. There’s so many new ways, like coding bootcamps and things are now online that we didn’t have online 10 years ago, 20 years ago, that now you can actually learn and get things done without recommitting to a four year institution, a two-year institution, or even those night classes.

Rachel Jones: Moving onto our next question. So we got a question from an aspiring founder. What are ways that women improve their financial wellbeing while founding a company? And how do technical founders prioritize their time?

Gretchen DeKnikker: Well, I think improving your financial wellbeing is to keep your personal burn low. Like always keep your personal burn low. There’s just so much that’s going to happen. When things get rough, making sure that you can get through it and that you don’t have the stress of your company being in dire financial straits compounded by being yourself in personal financial straits. So when I was a founder, we paid ourselves not enough. And we were thinking that would only be for like a year or so and it ended up being for almost three years and that took me quite a while to dig myself out of the hole of having paid myself just barely enough to live on. That added a lot of stress that I think was maybe unnecessary. Even though I kept my personal burn super, super low, it didn’t mean that I should have tried to live on that for as long as I did.

Gretchen DeKnikker: And then on the technical founders prioritizing their time. I think this question is around like, I’ve definitely seen if you are the solo technical person on a founding team, it’s overwhelming, and you should just never be the only technical person for any length of time is what I’ve observed at a couple of companies. Prioritize your time by outsourcing some of the work to somebody else just to keep yourself sane, from what I observed from the technical founders I worked with.

Rachel Jones: Great. So we are nearing the end of our questions episode, but we did get a few questions from listeners just wondering about Girl Geek dinners. So first, how can someone host a Girl Geek dinner at their company?

Gretchen DeKnikker: First, thank you for asking.

Angie Chang: You can email us at and we will talk to you. There’s also information on our website at about how to get a Girl Geek dinner at your office this year.

Rachel Jones: What does that process look like? Setting it up?

Gretchen DeKnikker: So the sponsoring company is usually responsible for food and drink. They provide the venue cause we love to come and eat your food at your office with your employees and check it out. And then of course as attendees, you all know that everybody loves some co-branded swag. It’s not required, but it is certainly appreciated greatly. And then we’ll work with you to come up with programming and content, and help you get a diverse range of perspectives from your speakers. Getting people that are early in their career and later in their career, and making sure that you’re bringing the most marginalized voices to the center and really lifting up everyone by doing that. You’ve seen how we bring everyone in, and then we also bring a photographer, a videographer. We make a cool thing afterwards, a video and a highlight reel, and we put those on YouTube. And so there’s all sorts of fun benefits. So if you’re thinking about it, the answer to “Should I do this?” is absolutely, yes. It’s the best.

Angie Chang: Yeah. We’ve put together over the years a comprehensive event sponsorship package, where we work with employers very closely toward their goals of recruiting, retaining, and hiring women in tech.

Sukrutha Bhadouria: If you’re thinking about getting your company to sponsor and then you’re like, ugh, I don’t want to deal with the effort, I want to tell you it’s super, super important to do it. And the returns are greater than the effort. I got to meet Angie the first time because I got the company I was working at to sponsor a Girl Geek Dinner. Those skills I gained at the end of it were… Not sure I would have gotten that short amount of time anywhere else. I ended up getting exposure to the executives at my company and they knew that I was helping with recruiting, and diversity and inclusion, all in one event.

Angie Chang: I think people organize girl geek dinners because they are working at a place that they are really excited about, and they want to provide a way for people to learn more at the company. And the way a Girl Geek Dinner is organized, is we have really high quality talks.

Sukrutha Bhadouria: If you’re working on figuring out what the content is with us, consider what you would want your company…. What you would want someone who doesn’t work at your company to know about your company. The culture. The technology stack. What sort of cool tips and tricks that you apply that’s very unique to your company. We’ve had companies that sponsor talks about, how they do user research because it’s very different than the way they do it. Or how they came up with developing a product, keeping women and children in mind, because that was the larger user base. And when [inaudible] things like that.

Rachel Jones: Does anyone have tips for someone who works at a smaller company with not as many resources, and how they might be able to get a Girl Geek Dinner?

Sukrutha Bhadouria: I know I also had to be creative about getting budget for the Girl Geek Dinner at the company I used to work at, and this is not just a recruiting event. This is a diversity and inclusion effort. This is a great marketing and advertising [inaudible] and so there’s a variety of departments across which I could get funding, and the cost is so low in comparison to the general cost to hire somebody who is skilled and who is different from everybody else and brings unique perspective.

Angie Chang: I think it’s really good exercise in consensus building for people. Like being able to go around to different departments and socialize the idea and get people excited at this opportunity. Invite people to speak, invite them to volunteer, invite them to go to a Girl Geek Dinner with you, so that you two can get to know each other outside of work. And I think it’s really an opportunity to rally around women, and have an event that showcases the women at the company and also the organizers.

Sukrutha Bhadouria: If you do get your company to sponsor, make sure that you are also either one of the speakers, or you are moderating a panel, or you are kicking off the event. Be loud and proud about your involvement in making this happen. So definitely make sure you’re seen.

Rachel Jones: Okay. We’ve come to our final question. So of the companies that have hosted Girl Geek X events, what have been the biggest challenges and biggest wins?

Gretchen DeKnikker: I think the biggest challenge for us on the organizer side is we do these basically every week. And so we have a pretty strong sense of what’s going to work and what isn’t. But in trying to find a balance between that, and what the company sort of has in mind so that they all stay unique, that it doesn’t become cookie cutter and just us saying… Cause we do want it to be representative of the company itself. But I think there’s definitely hard conversations that we’ve had, particularly around content of like, are you going to say something new about this? Like are we going to talk about work life balance in a way that’s some breakthrough new thing that we haven’t heard a million times? Because men aren’t getting up on stage and talking about this. Right? So how do we… So having those uncomfortable conversations, definitely conversations being really specific about, please look for like the most underrepresented within your company.

Gretchen DeKnikker: Look for your black and Latinx and your trans and LGBTQ plus and not just your standard speakers. And so those can be… I’m not uncomfortable having a conversation, but I feel like other people get kind of uncomfortable when you get really specific. But, the only way things will change is if we call out people’s standard way of just looking at the same people all the time and to really sort of break into that thought pattern, and put a thought in there of like, hey this could actually be better and different.

Angie Chang: To be fair we also just answered a question about work life balance. So apparently it’s a very constant thing but yeah they [crosstalk 00:29:28] want to make it there. It shouldn’t it be their topic [crosstalk 00:29:30] Girl Geek Dinner.

Sukrutha Bhadouria: [inaudible 00:29:34]product manager.

Angie Chang: Right.

Sukrutha Bhadouria: That’s the only thing [inaudible 00:29:35].

Angie Chang: Yeah.

Sukrutha Bhadouria: Let it come in the Q and A. That shouldn’t be the goal. [crosstalk 00:29:40].

Gretchen DeKnikker: Yeah. You know you have this one opportunity, we’re filming it. We’re going to make it look great later. Do you want to talk about my 15 years as a female engineer, or do you just want to talk about the really cool stuff you’ve done in those 15 years? Because that’s the talk I want to hear.

Sukrutha Bhadouria: Yeah, I think we should ban, oh, what’s it like being female in tech?

Rachel Jones: Yeah, that’s always good to clarify, because I think just people’s ideas of what a woman in tech, or what women in tech content is. It’s actually yeah, people just doing their jobs and talking about it, and not just talking about being a woman.

Gretchen DeKnikker: Right.

Sukrutha Bhadouria: If you’re a listener and you want to speak at an event, think about what it is that you want to be known for, and what sort of content can only come from you. And I’m pretty sure it’s not about, what is it like being a woman in tech.

Rachel Jones: This sounds like a great place to wrap it up. Does anyone have final reflections on the questions that we answered or anything that you want to just throw in there?

Angie Chang: Our biggest wins at Girl Geek Dinners.

Rachel Jones: Oh yeah.

Angie Chang: We love hearing from people who have gotten jobs at Girl Geek Dinners. We hear it from people usually like a year or two later. They’ll come up to us and like, “By the way, I got my job from this Girl Geek Dinner a year or two ago and now I’m at the company and doing great.” So it’s always great to hear.

Angie Chang: Next time you get a Girl Geek Dinner email, just hit reply and say, “I got my job through Girl Geek Dinners.” We love to hear it. We know more stories. Like we have a short list of companies that people have gotten their first job in tech, or another job at places like Khan Academy, Pinterest, Stripe, Slack, Sugar CRM. So just make our list longer. Let us know.

Gretchen DeKnikker: Yeah, I thought this episode was really fun to do, to have questions. So if you want to send us your questions, you can send them to or tweet us, or post them on Facebook. Or we’re very reachable in many different places, but send us your questions and we’ll do another one of these if you enjoyed it.

Sukrutha Bhadouria: Yeah. And if they’re topics that you’d like us to cover in the future too, you should definitely tell us[inaudible] Gretchen said.

Angie Chang: Thanks everyone for listening to this episode of the Girl Geek X podcast. If you enjoyed this episode, be sure to subscribe and leave us a rating, or review us on your favorite podcasting app. We’ll be back soon with more advice from women in tech.

Rachel Jones: This podcast is produced by me, Rachel Jones. With event recording by Eric Brown, and music by Diana Chow. To learn more about Girl Geek X or buy tickets to our next dinner, visit, where you can also find video and transcripts from all of our events.

Girl Geek X Bloomberg Engineering Panel Discussion, Fireside Chat, and Lightning Talk (Video + Transcript)

Like what you see here? Our mission-aligned Girl Geek X partners are hiring!

Girl Geek X Team (Gretchen DeKnikker, Rachel Jones, and Angie Chang) and Bloomberg Engineering (Mario Cadette and Bailey Frady) welcoming the crowd at Bloomberg Engineering Girl Geek Dinner in San Francisco, California.  Erica Kawamoto Hsu / Girl Geek X

Transcript of Bloomberg Girl Geek Dinner – Lightning Talks & Panel:

Bailey Frady: All right. Hello everyone. How are you all doing? Good.

Audience member: Good.

Bailey Frady: Good. How was the food?

Audience member: Delicious.

Bailey Frady: Great, glad to hear it. Well, my name is Bailey and I just want to officially welcome you to Bloomberg Engineering. We are so glad to have you here. I know there’s a lot of places where you could spend your Thursday evening, so we’re really thankful you chose to invest your time here. Like I said, my name is Bailey. I’m a project manager here and I have been working with the phenomenal Girl Geek team to put this event on for you. So without further ado, please help me welcome Angie, Gretchen, and Rachel.

Angie Chang: Thank you. Hi, my name is Angie Chang, founder of Girl Geek X. I wanted to say thank you for coming out to check out Bloomberg Engineering tonight in San Francisco. If you haven’t seen the sting rays, you’re adorable. And I’m so glad that we’re here to hear from some really amazing Girl Geeks tonight.

Rachel Jones: Hi, I’m Rachel. I’m the producer of our podcast and if you haven’t listened to it before, I would encourage you to check it out. We have a lot of really great episodes. My favorites, we have one on branding, one on self-advocacy. They’re really great. Season two is starting really soon. We’re going to be trying some new stuff. Our first episode of season two, we’re actually answering your questions that you sent in through our survey. So yeah, give it a listen.

Gretchen DeKnikker: I’m Gretchen, thank you guys. Who’s, this is their first Girl Geek event? so we have a lot of returning. Welcome back. Thank you for keep coming. Most of you know that we do these almost every week. The little known secret is you can do one at your company also. So if you want to find out what it’s like, find Bailey who’s been working so hard on this has been our interface and yes.

Gretchen DeKnikker: And Noor is around somewhere also. And then I’m sure there are a ton of other people that have been working on this, but ask them what it’s like and what it’s taken to put it together and think about doing one of your own. And then if you guys have seen our emails lately, I’m trying to stop saying you guys and I did it.

Gretchen DeKnikker: If y’all have seen our–Be a proper feminist when you’re on camera! Okay. So if you’ve seen emails lately, we just launched registration two days ago for our annual virtual conference, which is called Elevate. And we have amazing lineup. We have Carin Taylor, who’s the chief diversity officer of Workday. We have the CTO of Intuit, Marianna Tessel, just an amazing, amazing lineup.

Gretchen DeKnikker: It’ll all be targeted for like mid-career women. So not just as much early stage content, but like for everybody else too. So register, it’s free. If you’d like to get involved, tell your company. It’s a really great sponsorship opportunity too. And without further ado, let’s kick this off tonight. Okay, cool.

Narrator: Go. Two letters. One syllable, a revolution, a world of potential in a single keystroke. The central nervous system of global finance was imagined and engineered more than 30 years ago. In 1981, Mike Bloomberg and his partners saw an opportunity to bring digital innovation to an industry where information was transmitted slowly and inefficiently.

Narrator: They built the Bloomberg Terminal, one computer system that allowed investors the same real time access to financial information at the same time, no matter their location. It was a product of the future willed into existence, a continuously evolving system built upon pioneering technology that transformed global capital markets forever.

Narrator: We empower people to make critical, transparent, and informed investment decisions while reducing risk and creating the tools of tomorrow. At Bloomberg, we are constantly thinking about and investing in the future. Always going where others aren’t, can’t, or won’t. We’re rolling out hundreds of new products and enhancements every day with our ears to the ground and an eye towards the future. We connect people in ways and at speeds no one else can. We process 100 billion market data messages daily, peaking at more than 10 million per second.

Narrator: Our 15 million distinct streams of financial data transmit in 13 milliseconds, 27 times faster than the blink of an eye.

Narrator: Our reporters break news from locations other news organizations have yet to visit. We have the largest business new staff producing more stories from more places than anyone else in the world, 120 countries and counting. We work around the clock in every time zone, never shutting off, never powering down because that’s what our customers require, access from wherever they are, whenever they want, however they choose to connect.

Narrator: We have over 5,000 technologists and computer engineers, a full 25% of our workforce, designing new functions and products before customers even know they need them. Innovation and collaboration are the reasons for our continued success. It’s how we’ve always worked and it’s what will guide us forward, with over 175 locations we are investing in our employees by building the workplace of the future.

Narrator: We go further. Stretch our impact farther. We use our power to connect people to create positive change for the entire planet, not just our bottom line. Through Bloomberg Philanthropies, we invest almost all of our company profits to address the most urgent public challenges generating the greatest good for the most people. It’s our purpose.

Narrator: We are vigilant in organizing and interpreting information in a complex, ever changing world. Looking decades into the future and engineering what our clients will someday need has been our mission from day one. We’ll never stop building, growing, and staying true to our original innovation. Go deeper. Go where others aren’t.

Mario Cadete: Hello. Hello. Hope you enjoyed the video of our company. Thank you, Girl Geek, for making tonight possible. Thank you all for coming. Thanks, Bailey, for putting this together. My name is Mario Cadete. I head up our Bloomberg San Francisco engineering office. A little fun fact about our office. It was custom designed for software engineers. So we really like that and we were all engineers and we like to have it as our little-

Audience Member: Sting Rays.

Mario Cadete: Engineers like Sting Rays, I’m told. We have this floor, the floor above us. It’s a little smaller, cozier than our other offices. But we like it that way. We’re due to get another floor later this year and we’re really excited. That’s going to allow us to add another 50 engineers to our workforce here in San Francisco. Personally, just a little bit about myself. I’m fairly new to the Bay Area, so I’m looking forward to meeting many of you after the program.

Mario Cadete: I started my career in Bloomberg engineering in 2000, and I’ve seen some of the 20 years. I get that facial expression a lot, especially when you interview candidates that come in. Yeah, it’s a long time. During that time, I had great opportunities to work on many challenging projects in New York, in London, and now in San Francisco.

Mario Cadete: What kept me at the company over these years are really three main areas. And they’re should… they’ll come out tonight in our agenda. First I love tech, and you’ll hear more about that in our first panel on how to thrive in open source. So that’s going to be really exciting. Secondly, I care deeply about our commitment to D&I. I know I’m in a role that I can be a key ally to women in technology and I don’t take that lightly.

Mario Cadete: I think about it often and I hope it shows in my leading of this office. And you’ll hear more ideas to make your workplace more inclusive in our fireside chat, taking an employee resource community from idea to impact. And lastly, I love as a company how we give back. It’s in our DNA.

Mario Cadete: As a company we donated almost a billion dollars to charity in 2018, $1 billion. So a lot of money. Also in that year myself and almost 20,000 of my colleagues donated over 150,000 hours to charity and communities where we live and where we work. But most importantly to me is how we invested in our employees. I take great pride in seeing our people develop both professionally and personally.

Mario Cadete: So as an office, in addition to the project work that we do, we hosted over 100 events that range from professional development to clubs like Bloomberg Women in Technology to tech community events like this.

Mario Cadete: Our culture is one of the main reasons that my colleague Dobs decided to join us a couple of years ago. You’ll hear more about that during her lightning talk and how to find a dream job in tech. So enough about Bloomberg for now, if you have any questions, please ask me or somebody in one of these stylish blue t-shirts, ‘cuz there are a couple of them around, after the program.

Mario Cadete: So let’s move on to what you came here for. Valuable insights to advancing your career and meeting other incredible women working in Silicon Valley. Without further ado, I’m proud to introduce my colleague, Danica Fine, who will lead a panel discussion on how to thrive at open source. I hope you enjoy. Thank you.

Bloomberg Engineering Software Engineer Danica Fine moderates Stephanie Stattel and Paul Ivanov in a panel conversation on how to thrive in open source communities at Bloomberg Engineering Girl Geek Dinner.  Erica Kawamoto Hsu / Girl Geek X

Danica Fine: Can you hear me? Yeah. Okay. I said it earlier today, I was really excited about the director chair. This is great. Thank you so much for giving me a director chair. Well, hey everyone. Welcome to our panel on how to thrive in open source software communities. We have a great program for you tonight, but before we get started, I really want to see a show of hands, how many of you are familiar with or already involved in using open source technologies?

Danica Fine: All right. Good. That’s good. You’re on the panel.

Paul Ivanov: Please.

Danica Fine: Who are you? How many of you are participating in these open source communities already? Or maybe even actively contributing code back to these open source projects? All right, quite a few. So I think we have a good mix in the audience tonight. I know that some of you didn’t even raise your hands, so I hope like by the end of this you’ll know what we’re talking about. So hopefully, our panelists can shed some light on the subject.

Danica Fine: So as Mario, mentioned we have with us tonight three of our star engineers. We have Stephanie Stattel, Paul Ivanov, and Kaia Young. Before we dive into questions, why don’t we introduce ourselves. Paul, let’s start.

Paul Ivanov: Hello. I’m Paul. I’ve been at Bloomberg for three and a half years. I work largely in open source on the Jupyter Project. So I’m one of the steering council members and was fortunate enough for the project. If you don’t know Jupyter Notebooks are a way to do data analysis in different languages and to communicate your results with colleagues so that you can rerun it and so that they can rerun it. And so I’ve been working on that since before the project existed as Jupyter, as IPython, and we were fortunate enough to win the ACM Software System Award in 2017. So it’s great to be able to contribute to this tool and give back to the community and continue to do that here.

Danica Fine: Stephanie?

Stephanie Stattel: Hi. Yeah, my name’s Stephanie Stattel. I’ve been at Bloomberg going on nine years now. I moved out to San Francisco two years ago to work on the team build- working with Jupyter, building a data science platform on top of Jupyter. And right now for the past year, I’ve been working on an infrastructure team, so I’m sure many of you saw the terminal demo. The team that I’m on works really closely with Chrome and the windowing stack that supports the terminal. So happy to chat with anybody about that after the panelists and talks.

Kaia Young: And my name’s Kaia Young, I’ve been with Bloomberg also about two years, here in the San Francisco office. and I’m an engineering manager here for a new team that’s focused on data visualization and tooling for a new data science platform that we offer. So my team develops data visualizations and some of the platform related to that, largely built on a lot of open source technologies like D3, Vega, pandas, NumPy, a lot of the kind of general Python data science stack that you all may be aware of.

Kaia Young: So we do develop tools for internal use as well as contribute to those libraries that we do use.

Danica Fine: Thanks. All right, let’s get started. Stephanie. So you mentioned your involvement with project Jupyter. Can you tell us more about how you got started in the Jupyter community and like what was that journey like for you?

Stephanie Stattel: Yeah, sure. So I can say that when I started on the Jupyter team, that was my first exposure to the open source world and communities. So needless to say it was a little bit intimidating. When you go to a github page and you see a list of issues and a lot of activity in terms of pull requests, it’s really hard to know where to get started. And so something that I really appreciated about the Jupyter community in particular, there’s so many in person events, conferences, workshops, hackathons, and studio days. And so for me, that was my real entry point, getting to know the people behind the community.

Stephanie Stattel: And it was a really great way to find the projects that I was interested in working on and what lined up with what the community was developing. So in something like a full studio day event, you find people of all levels of expertise. People like Paul who have been with the project for over 10 years. People who like me had never used Jupyter, made an open source pull request before and we’re all working together. So I think for me it was a great mentoring opportunity.

Stephanie Stattel: And I think when you’re looking for open source communities to engage with, it’s really important to find ones that have a really welcoming environment where it’s okay to ask questions and be new at things. And I think it really speaks to the growth we’ve seen in a project like Jupyter where it really takes into people with a lot of different viewpoints and is open to kind of pursuing different avenues. And I think that’s why I’ve stayed active in the community for as long as I have. Yeah.

Danica Fine: I really appreciate hearing your perspective on that. ‘Cause like, I’m sure a lot of us didn’t realize how simple it could be to get involved. And, as someone who’s kind of outside of the community like you’ve actually made it sound a little less daunting, a little more welcoming. So thanks.

Danica Fine: So Kaia, your Bloomberg product is built on top of open source technology. Could you give everyone an idea how you’re able to leverage this technology and your team? And as part of that, how are you interacting with that community?

Bloomberg Engineering Team Lead Kaia Young (right) talks about open source communities at Bloomberg Engineering Girl Geek Dinner.   Erica Kawamoto Hsu / Girl Geek X

Kaia Young: Yeah. I mean working with the open source community in the context of business product is a little bit different than doing it as an individual contributor or just as anything else. So there are kind of some interesting challenges there as well. But even besides that, I think there’s a lot of advantages to working with open source software even in the context of business. Like for example, you can get to market a lot quicker. Why spend a lot of time making something that other people probably already made better definitely than me.

Kaia Young: So also with that it kind of gives company this ability to focus more on our core competencies. Like for example, Bloomberg, we’re very, very interested in the financial side of things. So leveraging a lot of good open source technology gives us a way of kind of getting those products out there a little bit faster so that we can focus on the particular value that we add.

Kaia Young: I think interacting with the community is a very, very kind of interesting thing. Mainly because I think one of the areas that we’ve been able to be successful in is having good relationships with those communities. So some of the strategies we do there is we try to really build an understanding of who’s using the open source software. I think sometimes it can be really, really easy to kind of be focused on the particular thing that you want to do.

Kaia Young: Whereas some of the technology we’re using are used for all kinds of, of things. Like Jupyter itself is used for academics, for research, all over the place. So really spending the time with the community and the stakeholders in that community to really kind of gain an understanding of who’s at the table? What are people using it for? So that then we can position ourselves to understand what the roadmap is, and then how we can actually be a part of that.

Kaia Young: One of the things we do want to avoid is obviously saying that, this is something that we want to contribute to. How can it help us? I mean, that’s not what we want to do at all. So from our perspective it’s really important to kind of understand where the community is so we can see where we can act.

Kaia Young: Essentially it’s kind of a forced multiplier. So by understanding that we can identify expertise that we have that may be valuable to the community and then work together to make a product that everyone can be used and used for. I think it’s really interesting to hear kind of Paul’s perspective on it. Jupyter in particular, having gone for so long and being used by so many people. I’m not saying you’re old-

Paul Ivanov: Thanks.

Kaia Young: … but it’s like, [inaudible]. But some of the Jupyter events that I’ve been at, it’s like really, really amazing to see how some of the software that’s being used. So like for seeing some of the stuff that I’ve developed being used, I think at the last event there was being used to predict weather, there was a government demo on fluid dynamics. They’re using it to find new planets. And then like, I just made a thing that puts some stuff on the screen, but it’s like really, really cool to be able to see that we can also contribute back.

Kaia Young: So rather than just being focused on the needs of our consumers and our clients that we can actually kind of give something back to the community that’s used for research and all these other things.

Danica Fine: That’s awesome. I think it’s like really interesting to see how does that go back and forth rather than your team just taking this product and utilizing, but like it seems that there’s like a lot of effort on both sides to make this build and maintain this sort of partnership. So, Paul, as someone who is a leader in the Jupyter community, as so many people have alluded to. You’re great. Could you speak to how you maintain the community space that both fosters inclusiveness and mentorship, and then also supports these external partnerships such as the one that Kaia had mentioned?

Paul Ivanov: Right. Yeah. I think it’s useful to sort of take a step back and make the point that like, even though we’re talking about open source, like it’s one thing, it’s no monolith. So there’s different scales. And so maybe I’ll just go through some of the history of like how Jupyter came to be here and how I’ve participated in it. And that’ll help sort of shed light with how I think about this.

Paul Ivanov: And so I think the, the best way to get involved with open source to scratch your own itch. So if you have something that is bothering you, whether or not it’s making your own project around that, or finding a project that’s already helping you somewhat and then changing it for your needs, I think is a very good way. And that is the way that I started with IPython, which then led to IPython Notebooks.

Paul Ivanov: So when I was in graduate school, we were using these tools for ourselves to do our data analysis. Okay? And we knew that we wanted to share that with other scientists and with the world at large, but we didn’t have resources for that all we… it was entirely volunteer run.

Paul Ivanov: And so then in 2013, I think we got the first grant from the Sloan foundation, where for the first time, we had seven paid positions to work on this tool, IPython notebook, which already existed but was rough around the edges, full time. So we were able to continue that work, but now we sort of started to shift away from being users of the tool. We were still using it, but now we… like our jobs were to make the tool and not necessarily just use a tool.

Paul Ivanov: So it’s sort of another iteration of that. And so we were still very close to our users and we were still users ourselves. But as more people and companies started to come on board, so it’s not just funded in academia anymore. We have companies that are joining the efforts and resources and more engineers that are joining the efforts. We needed to come up with a governance model and that’s always a struggle.

Paul Ivanov: At our level, that’s one of the big issues is like which way do… which direction do we go? How do we go? And how do we keep the stream of people coming in? And so one of the ways in which… and so to me it was like going from, “Oh, this is the thing I do for fun and nobody pays me to do it because this is awesome,” to, “Somebody is paying me to work on this fun thing that I am doing,” to like, “Oh man, lots of people are actually using this thing.”

Paul Ivanov: I need to make sure that we keep people coming in and thinking that this is fun, and so that it’s not just the job. Because we now we have contributors and leaders that for their entire involvement in the system, they were paid to do that work. That’s just like weird for me. Because for me it was like… it was all of our friends that were just, “Yeah, anybody can contribute. Like we’re clearly going to use this.”

Paul Ivanov: And then there’s some people that have always been paid now to work on Jupyter and that’s great. It’s like it’s weird. It’s like a family that grows and then that also is its own employer. Like it’s a family business. I don’t know.

Paul Ivanov: All right. But what’s happened is as we grew, and this happens to large open source projects, is that there kind of isn’t necessarily room for people to be able to plug in and explore new ideas.

Paul Ivanov: Like, we’re, lots of open source projects have this notion of sprints where there’s work to be done and you can show up and we can hand you out tickets and it’s a bite-size ticket that you will be able to do either on your own or with a little bit of handholding. And I thought that, well, when we were just using these tools on our own, we used to just be very close to it and we used to explore stuff. We did stuff that nobody… we didn’t have to justify. We didn’t have to have a business justification for doing things.

Paul Ivanov: And so that’s why for about a year and a half now, I’ve been helping with my colleagues at Bloomberg running these Jupyter open studio days. So it’s a two day event where anybody of all levels, experience with tech or not, can come to our office here. And it’s kind of like a house party. It’s kind of like a hackathon, but it’s unstructured. It’s deliberately unstructured so that we can plug you in wherever it is that you want to plug in and we can have a conversation about things and to sort of have more of this incubation period. And so that’s sort of… I’m very fortunate to be involved in this.

Danica Fine: This has borderline become the Paul… Paul Ivanov show. Anyway…

Paul Ivanov: Sorry. I did not want to do this-

Danica Fine: I’m really glad that there are leaders in the community though, that are like you, who are making these opportunities more accessible to people. So I really do appreciate that. That’s the end of our deep, heavy questions, lightning rounds. I’m so excited. One to two sentence answers, please.

Danica Fine: You go over and I will come after you later. Stephanie, what advice would you give to someone looking to get involved with the community?

Stephanie Stattel: I’m going to do longer sentences and [crosstalk] junctions.

Paul Ivanov: [inaudible] on this.

Stephanie Stattel: I think for me, something I would say is don’t be afraid to dip your toe into the pond of open source and really look for a community. And I think I’ve definitely found that in places like Jupyter and Electron that really thrive on bringing new people and fresh ideas into their ecosystem.

Stephanie Stattel: I think that’s really important when you’re deciding where to spend your energy. You really want to work with people that are open to new thoughts and kind of like you’re saying, exploring where a platform can go. I think it sort of, for me sort of red danger zone if there’s sort of a timeline that’s mapped out because in reality I think projects evolve in really creative and surprising ways, and so I think you want to find sort of a tribe of open source communities that are open to where a project is going to go. Because I think I even Kaia mentioned this, you really have no idea what you’re building, who’s going to end up using it.

Stephanie Stattel: And I think being open to the possibilities really broadens the horizons for where what your work can do can have an impact. And so that would be my advice kind of…

Danica Fine: You have one more sentence.

Stephanie Stattel: Two sentences. I do?

Danica Fine: Oh that was [inaudible]. Okay, we’ll end it there. Kaia, what do you wish you had known when you started working with open source software?

Kaia Young: What do I wish I would’ve known? It’s kind of interesting to go back to something Paul said earlier, what’s really interesting about open source software is that there are so many different flavors of it. Like some is just companies open sourcing their own software. You have like academics making things and then sometimes just one person wanted something and then put it out there.

Kaia Young: Previous to my career as an engineer, I was a musician and one of my least favorite things in the world was like the unsolicited email of someone saying like, “Hi Kaia, here’s everything that’s wrong with your entire body of work.” And so I find this really… it’s one thing that is really important to bring to open source is kind of a mindset of respect, humility. These things go a long way because it’s really, really easy to look at an open source project, get on there and say like, “Hey, why don’t you have this feature? This should be designed this way instead,” when you don’t know the story about how that project got there.

Kaia Young: It could have been just one person working on it constantly and sacrifice quite a bit for it. So little respect and humility goes a long way. It’s a lesson for me.

Danica Fine: I have learned tonight that our engineers can’t count to two. Okay.

Paul Ivanov: It’s two in some base.

Danica Fine: Paul?

Paul Ivanov: [inaudible]

Danica Fine: Okay. Last question for you Paul, and it’s a doozy. Are you ready? When is the next Jupyter open studio? Is it true that anyone can get involved?

Paul Ivanov: Yes and yes.

Audience Member: Yay.

Danica Fine: Great. We’re done. It’s fine. It’s fine.

Paul Ivanov: It’ll be probably early Spring and so we’ll probably not make the February… late February cutoff, but it’ll probably be early March, somewhere around there.

Danica Fine: We’re good.

Stephanie Stattel: Will people go to see the announcement? Sorry.

Paul Ivanov: Uh-huh (affirmative).

Danica Fine: You can ask questions. This is my official job. It’s fine.

Stephanie Stattel: Sorry.

Paul Ivanov: Tech at Bloomberg will definitely retweets me whenever I tweet about it.

Danica Fine: Oh, do they?

Paul Ivanov: So yeah.

Danica Fine: I didn’t know that. Cool.

Paul Ivanov: Because I know a few people that work at Bloomberg, so it’s really great.

Danica Fine: You’re working? Okay. Great. Yeah. Awesome. Those are all the questions that we had planned for tonight. I’m sure you have more questions for our panelists. So afterwards at the networking session, please reach out to them, pick their brains, clearly they have nothing else to do, so that’d be great. Have fun with the rest of the program. It’ll be wonderful.

Paul Ivanov: Thank you.

Bloomberg Engineering Team Lead Cheryl Quah speaks with Software Engineer Rebecca Ely about taking an employee resource group (or community) from idea to impact at Bloomberg Engineering Girl Geek Dinner.  Erica Kawamoto Hsu / Girl Geek X

Cheryl Quah: Hello. Good evening.

Rebecca Ely: Hi, everyone.

Cheryl Quah: Hello.

Paul Ivanov: Hello.

Cheryl Quah: Good. Danica. This is my first time sitting on this chair. Feels pretty great. You’re lucky. No, I actually I kind of prefer standing up, but we’ll see. Anyway, welcome everyone to Bloomberg to our little corner of San Francisco with our little stingrays. My name is Cheryl. I’m an engineering team lead at Bloomberg. I’ve been here I think coming to eight years now, so not quite as stretch as Mario, but still getting there. I started out in New York and moved over to San Francisco about three and a half years ago.

Cheryl Quah: And I’m very privileged to introduce Ely. Ely started out as a peace and justice studies major. Thank you. And had a career in government contracting before joining the Hackbright Developer Bootcamp and then leaping… Yeah. Wait, where are the woos coming from? Anyone in the audience? There we go. And then we’ve been so lucky to have Ely with us for the past three to four years at Bloomberg. More specifically to the topic at hand tonight. Ely has been active in essentially all of the communities, or what we call Employee Resource Groups, that we have at Bloomberg in the San Francisco office.

Cheryl Quah: I don’t know where you find the time for that. I’m not going to ask. But and in particular she’s been part of the steering committee for the Bloomberg Women in Technology Allyship Group. And so also a little bit about me is that I’ve been very fortunate when I was in New York to be part of the exciting journey of helping to start the Bloomberg Women in Technology Community that is now being taken over and led by many wonderful other people here like Ely, like Stephanie, and all the other wonderful folk here.

Rebecca Ely: Sorry. Cheryl is downplaying it. She’s basically a celebrity at Bloomberg.

Cheryl Quah: That’s not true. But so why are we here today? We’re here today because clearly, creating and sustaining an employee resource group or community is something that’s very close to both of our hearts. And I guess just to take a step back, how many of you here are involved in an employee resource group at your organization? A good number. Not as many as I thought, but that’s interesting. How many of you who are involved or have found that your community, your employee resource group has been impactful to you personally, either you’re in your career or just in your overall happiness? All right.

Cheryl Quah: All right. How many of you are interested in getting more involved with starting an ERG at your company or figuring out how to increase the impact of the ERG at your company?

Cheryl Quah: Good. All right. So that gives us a few people to talk to tonight. So I think the reason why I’m here and, why we wanted to chat tonight as well was because if you have been actively involved in a community or an ERG then you probably are aware of how much work it takes. Yeah, I see a few nods there. It got you. You’re aware of how much work it takes, how much effort goes into running the community just to organizing a single event, shout out to Bailey, again, shout out to all the organizers of this event, shout out to the Girl Geek organizers.

Cheryl Quah: It’s just… it’s a massive amount of effort. And I think for me personally over the years as I’ve gained experience, sort of what I’ve come to realize and what one of the driving questions for me nowadays is, I always ask nowadays, “How can I be sure, sure that the effort and the work that I’m putting in is paying off? What are the specific outcomes that I actually want to achieve? And is the effort that I’m putting in going… actually moving the needle in some way on those specific outcomes that I’m interested in achieving?”

Cheryl Quah: And so for tonight, we wanted to share some stories from our personal experiences regarding that. And I think in your abstract it says something about launching, growing, and sustaining an ERG. Nobody else remembers what the abstract says, but in this spirit of saying what we advertised, we’re going to start with those questions. So in terms of launching an initiative. Bear with me and the Hamlet moment that Ely and I came up with a short while ago.

Cheryl Quah: So when we are launching an initiative, the three questions that I sort of encourage everybody to ask themselves and that we ask ourselves nowadays is, why are we doing this? Why are we doing this? Why are we doing this?

Rebecca Ely: Yeah, so the answers to those questions from an allyship perspective, at least for me, there’s an entire steering committee, in terms of why are we doing this? I think that there are endless reasons to care about diversity and for allyship more specifically, a lot of the work that happens in companies to improve the environment that folks come into and to improve statistics and to improve outcomes, that falls on the communities that are experiencing the gaps themselves much of the time.

Rebecca Ely: And so allyship very… people have a lot of opinions about the word ally, but it is… we were kind of seizing this swell of support that we have within the women in tech community that is not people who identify as women in tech to really try to shift some of the burden of the work to be done to move towards equity onto people who are already benefiting from the system.

Rebecca Ely: In terms of why are we doing this? I would say so, there’s a lot that companies can do to bring in sensitivity training or stuff like that from outside. You can do surveys and try to take the temperature of the company. But at the end of the day whereas on the ground initiative that was just started by individual contributors who cared. We have access to a lot of information that we’re sort of uniquely positioned for. And so we do a lot of workshops and trainings that are a content we designed based on… What did I call them? Based on like sessions we hold with employees to find out what gaps they’re personally experiencing and what would matter most to them to cover in these trainings.

Rebecca Ely: So we are sort of synthesizing what we’re learning from the people that we really care about supporting and then disseminating that across the company. And we also have a lot of really great access to senior leadership. If I get in a room with a senior leader, I’m not just saying, “Can you do this, this, and this for me?” I’m also saying, “I know what people are thinking. I know what people are talking about. What would you like to know from me? How can we work together to fill gaps? What are you already working on? Where, what are we already working on? What still needs to be done?” That sort of thing.

Cheryl Quah: Thank Ely for talking a little bit about the allyship initiative and I guess… Sorry, go ahead.

Rebecca Ely: Just one more thing on the why are we doing this, which I kind of already addressed, but just there’s also… on the topic of who gets involved in this kind of work most of the time. Mostly it’s not people who are benefiting from the way the systems already are. And so doing trainings on gender equity in the workplace that are attended all by people who already believe is definitely worthwhile in its case. But I think we can have a really solid impact by focusing on people who aren’t necessarily already bought in, who haven’t thought about this stuff much, who are learning for the first time from our workshops, what they could be doing better.

Cheryl Quah: So thank you, Mario.

Rebecca Ely: Thank you.

Cheryl Quah: I got a clap there. I thank you. And so just putting on my… in a former life maybe I would have been a professor, so I get a chance to do that occasionally but nobody else wants to hear that. But anyway, so just to sort of rehash what we were trying to say, it’s that if you’re thinking about getting involved in effort you know is going to take energy and time on your part, think very clearly about your objectives. Think, why are we doing this? Think, why are we doing this? Meaning what is your specific value add here?

Cheryl Quah: And then why are we doing this? Meaning that for the specific outcome that you want to achieve, there are many different paths that you can take to get there. What are the paths that maybe have the highest return on investment? Because all of us have a finite amount of time. All of us have a finite amount of energy. What are the options that you can pick that would really move the needle for what you want to achieve.

Cheryl Quah: I got a five-minute signal over there. You might be going a little bit over. But the second part of the abstract said, growing an initiative. If you think about the word growing, there are two ways to think about it. One is sort of the more intuitive thing, which is just thinking purely about numbers. For instance, my employee resource group had 200 members last year and now has 400 members this year, or my community hosted six events last year and hosted 12 events this year.

Cheryl Quah: So that’s one way to think about it. But the way that I like to think about it, is how are we growing our impact? Ely, can you tell us a little bit more about how you think about that with regard to the allyship initiative?

Rebecca Ely: For sure. So I think that they’re both are important, if you’re having a really phenomenal impact and changing hearts and minds, but you’re changing two hearts and minds, that may not be worth as much as having less impact, but changing lots of hearts and minds. On the other hand, you’ve got to find a balance. I spend a lot of time thinking about if I’ve got possibly too much time, possibly hours, if I’ve got one hour to work on this upcoming workshop, am I publicizing the workshop? Am I making sure we get as many people in the room as possible? Or am I improving the content of the workshop?

Rebecca Ely: Am I making sure that the people who are in the room are walking away with the growth that we’re looking for?

Cheryl Quah: And so the last part is how do we sustain the impact of a community? Or an employee resource group? Or really any initiative that you want to get involved in? And for me, this is pretty personal because when you think about sustaining the impact of any initiative or organization, really, it’s all about the people that are involved in helping to run the organization, helping to run any sort of initiative that the organization sponsors.

Cheryl Quah: And so for me, sustaining the impact of any community over many years means for any individual who’s an active member there, are they doing this in a sustainable manner. So if I’m asking you… I heard the lady in red, who nodded early on, if you’re actively involved in an ERG, are you doing this in a sustainable manner for yourself? Because it takes a lot of effort. It takes a lot of energy.

Cheryl Quah: So, thinking about for any given individual, are you maximizing your impact if you had multiple different options to choose from, which option are you going to pick to invest your energy in? And also, how do you start acting as a force multiplier. Somebody used that term early on as well today. But how do you get new blood into the organization? How do you grow new leadership? So that over time it’s not all resting on the shoulders of a few core people in the organization.

Cheryl Quah: So, Ely, tell us a little bit more about… you’ve been involved in this for a couple of years now, tell us a little bit more about that.

Rebecca Ely: Cheryl is intimately familiar, I would say, with how this played out for me last year. I, as Cheryl mentioned, have been involved in lots of ERGs. And little over a year ago was asked to join the allyship initiative as a steering committee member, which is a pretty big commitment, and was really having a great time with that and also was working to like give away some of the other responsibilities that I’d taken on over the years that were sort of causing me to split my time.

Rebecca Ely: And then I was asked in the middle of last year to become a co-lead for the San Francisco Sustainability… I’m sorry, I was already doing that, for the San Francisco…

Cheryl Quah: Too many communities.

Rebecca Ely: Be Proud chapter and Be Proud is Bloomberg’s queer employee resource group. And so that was something that was a really exciting opportunity. And it was really, really hard to decide what to do. Cheryl and I had many conversations. Did you mention that you’re my team lead? But also you have a lot of experience in this world.

Rebecca Ely: And it was so hard because Be Proud was an organization that… it was the first one that I joined at Bloomberg and it really was where I felt like I sort of found my home. I was going to all these great events through Be Proud. I met people across the company, across the globe, who I just really connected with, still some of my best friends at the company.

Rebecca Ely: And so it was hard to say no to this organization that meant so much and had done so much for me personally, but after a lot of reflection with Cheryl, I came to the conclusion that my background and my sort of positioning with the allyship initiative and the connections that I already had there, and sort of the potential I saw for that community to make a big difference in the things that mattered to me was the most valuable use of my limited time.

Rebecca Ely: Because I still have to be an engineer by day, and I have a life and I like to sleep and a lot of responsibilities. And so yeah, I did ultimately say no, and I have no regrets about that. But it is really hard. And some advice that Cheryl gave me that was really valuable at that point was to turn the times when you feel like you need to say no, or you should say no into opportunities for other people. So suggesting people who you know have been really involved and or have been really interested and would like to get more involved in making it a chance for them to get that networking and show that leadership and stuff like that. So thanks, Cheryl.

Cheryl Quah: Sure. Thank you, Ely. So hopefully everyone has taken the opportunity tonight to meet new people. And thank you again for taking your night to spend it with us. If you don’t remember anything else, remember our little Hamlet moment, which is why are we doing this? Why are we doing this? And why are we doing this? So on that note, thank you, everyone.

Alexandra Dobkin: Hey guys? Is my mic on? No. okay. Oh, now my mic is on. Yeah, that did it, asking the crowd. Okay. Yeah, I like that. Second round of applause.

Audience: Yay.

Bloomberg Engineering Software Engineer Alexandra (“Dobs”) Dobkin gives a talk on how to find your dream job at Bloomberg Engineering Girl Geek Dinner.  Erica Kawamoto Hsu / Girl Geek X

Alexandra Dobkin: Yeah. Yeah. I love this crowd. You guys are great. I’m going to take you guys with me everywhere. I’ll be like yeah, follow the sequins. Yeah. All right. So as you can see, it says Alexandra Dobkin. That is my real name. As many of you might know, I go by Dobs, I will respond to Alexandra, I promise. But feel free to call me Dobs. So today I’ll be talking about finding your dream company.

Alexandra Dobkin: So what I want to do is go over the 10 questions to ask every future employer so you can figure out is this going to be the right company for me? So let’s go through a little history lesson. So for those of you that haven’t met me, I’m…?

Audience: Dobs.

Alexandra Dobkin: There we go. Yeah. I’m a software engineer working on Python API and the BQuant team. And if you’d like to know more about what that means, come talk to me after I’ll be the one in the sequins. So in case you can’t tell or can’t guess, I’ve been having an awesome experience here at Bloomberg. So quick show of hands or shout outs if you’re really excited, who’s been having an awesome time at their jobs?

Audience: Yay.

Alexandra Dobkin: Okay, so a lot of people. So seems like you guys have kind of figured out the secret sauce as have I, that… how to figure out what’s going on? I feel like a lot of people at Bloomberg just raised their hands. Yeah, okay. Yeah. So what’s it that’s giving me such an awesome experience? Part of it is the work that I’m paid to do that I find exciting.

Alexandra Dobkin: But that’s not everything. It’s how I’m treated, the attitudes that my coworkers have, the capacity for me to grow and progress in my career. I learned to appreciate my time here because, well, frankly, my previous work experiences were not the right fit for me. I used to work in management consulting, as well as finance, which had a vastly different culture to tech and especially a different culture from that at Bloomberg.

Alexandra Dobkin: So while programming is definitely cooler than these jobs, Bloomberg has definitely been a much better employer for me, as well. And an example of how Bloomberg has been better is this is what I wore to work today. I could get away with that in my previous careers. Obviously, that’s a problem. So I’ve been thinking about this, what’s been the difference between my previous employment that wasn’t the right fit, and my current employment, which is awesome? Aside from the sequins? So I’ve distilled my experience down to 10 facets that I realized I care about.

Alexandra Dobkin: I’ve talked to others about my findings, and they seem to agree. Let’s start talking about what are my 10 questions? So the first question I’d want to talk about is customer service. And the question is that you can ask is, how does the company treat its customers? So what is the customer? Who are Bloomberg customers? Can you take a guess?

Alexandra Dobkin: Yeah, okay, okay. So who’s a customer of our IT department? Yeah. Or of our HR department?

Audience member: Everyone.

Alexandra Dobkin: Yeah. So click, click. So how a company treats its customers is as important because it’s an indicator of how you will likely be treated at the company too. the ingrained attitude towards customer service translates into how you’re treated by much of the company. I know that Bloomberg prides itself in a first in class customer service experience. While that sounds great as an actual customer, paying customer, that’s really meaningful to me. I’m not a paying customer. I’m getting paid by Bloomberg sort of it.

Alexandra Dobkin: So often, and especially in larger companies, many team’s clients are actually internal. So the attitudes surrounding customer service will directly affect your interactions with your colleagues. So if a company does not treat its paying customers well, how can you expect them to treat their employees well?

Alexandra Dobkin: Yeah. So now let’s talk about philanthropy. So this begs the question, what is the company’s commitment to its community? How a company serves its community and the world at large is important because it is an indicator of its commitment to being kind. So moreover, people like to work for companies with similar values to their own. So if a person, say me cares about philanthropy will be more excited to apply to a company that promotes philanthropy. Pretty simple, right? Yeah.

Alexandra Dobkin: You guys are all smart here. So it’s pretty simple. But let’s take it one step further. There’s another reason why I care about working for a company that prioritizes philanthropy. It also draws other people to work that share those same altruistic values. And what I found is that people with altruistic values tend to be really nice, kind people. So in my professional opinion, it’s really nice to work with nice people. You can quote me on that.

Alexandra Dobkin: So a company that cares about philanthropy can lead to really kind coworkers. Love you guys. Okay, all right, health. What is the company’s commitment to health and wellness? An employee is an asset to a company and should be treated as such. How a company demonstrates its care for you beyond how it compensates you affects your quality of life. Because life happens.

Alexandra Dobkin: If you want a company that cares not only about your health care policy, but your overall health too. And it’s really important to know the difference between what perks are listed in your benefits package versus the culture around taking advantage of these perks. So raise your hand if you’ve ever heard a story of someone taking a three week vacation at a company that offered unlimited vacation, they come back and they’re canned. Oh, yeah, we got a few hands. Yeah, yeah, that kind of happens.

Alexandra Dobkin: While what is on paper can look attractive, it is not uncommon for there to be retaliation at companies for enjoying benefits, such as unlimited paid time off or taking a much needed unlimited sick days. Companies that talk the talk need to also walk the walk. It is crucial to know the benefits package is not only great but what you’re being offered on paper you’re actually truly entitled to in your experiences. So make sure you talk to employees, get anecdotes about people using benefits consequence free.

Alexandra Dobkin: I don’t have time for it, but oh boy, do I have an anecdote about how I have really, really appreciated having unlimited sick days and having a company that really cares about my wellness, calling to make sure that I’m feeling better and saying do not come back until you do. Diversity and inclusion. What would this talk be if I didn’t talk about diversity and inclusion, right? So hopefully this is an easy one that we can all agree on.

Alexandra Dobkin: Clap if diversity is important to you. Yeah. Okay. Love that sound. So good. So, I will blow throough this one quickly, because I’m pretty sure we’re all on the same page. How a company treats its under represented employees matters for all, not only for members of that community. There are definitely challenges that underrepresented groups face, microaggressions, biases, marginalization, exclusion, disrespect, inequality. I’m sure you guys can name a lot more. But a company that supports hiring diverse employees invariably supports diversity of thought. And this is a benefit for everyone, from minorities, non-minorities, to the company as a whole, is it allows for a more inclusive culture that welcomes different ideas.

Alexandra Dobkin: Diversity and inclusion makes… supports making workplaces a safe space to be yourself, whether you’re identify as minority group or not. Freedom from conformity allows you to bring your best self to work. In my case of sequins. All right, moving on. So let’s talk about culture. So when we think about culture, how many of you have heard the phrase, “work hard play hard”? Yeah. What’s your company like? Oh, yes. Some useless…

Alexandra Dobkin: So that’s the absolute worst way to define company culture. Because it really tells you nothing. Let’s put up a better quote. Okay, that’s better. So how do you define a company’s culture? Because culture is hard to talk about. It’s really big. Its leadership, it’s the seasoned employees. It’s the new hires, it’s the initiatives, it’s the goals, it’s attitude, it’s the customer service, it’s the attitudes towards philanthropy, the investment in health, the promotion of diversity. So everything that we just went over goes into it.

Alexandra Dobkin: Work should not be your life, but how you’re treated daily will affect your life. So take care to find a place that shares your values, will treat you how you want to be treated and have realistic expectations of how you should balance life and work. And I find this question, what are some examples that illustrate company culture really important? Because if you ask someone to give anecdotes, to give stories about, the brown bag lunches on Tuesdays, and how someone found their mentor, it’s a lot more telling than someone just listing the mission statement of the company or the values that the company subscribes to.

Alexandra Dobkin: All right, so this is something that we heard mentioned before, impact. So what’s impact? What’s an impactful role? And that means something different for everyone. So it’s important to figure out what does it mean to the company and what does it mean to you and where are those two relating. So, for example, when I was in finance, I was managing a billion-dollar portfolio that I was in charge of. I executed trades against it, made all investment decisions. Now does managing a billion-dollar portfolio sound impactful to you?

Audience member: Yeah.

Alexandra Dobkin: It wasn’t impactful at all to me. I was extremely bored. It wasn’t analytical. I was done with my job like the first 10 minutes… the first hour of the day and then I spent the rest of the day just, on BuzzFeed, I did not feel like I was making an impact at all. So, the impact that your job makes emanates from the challenges you face that becomes learning opportunities. Just because the company’s making waves in an industry, it does not necessarily mean that your job will be exciting.

Alexandra Dobkin: However, the converse is also true. You can be at a company making a splash and have a super thrilling job. So figure out how you define impact, what you want to achieve on a job. Does it mean working with large sums of money, like a billion dollars, affecting thousands of customers, maybe. Working with cutting edge technologies. Whatever you need on the job to feel like you are making an impact should be aligned with how the company representatives answer this question.

Alexandra Dobkin: All right. Let’s move along. Okay, feedback. So you definitely want to ask about feedback because the only way to know how you are performing and how you can improve is if it’s communicated to you via feedback. So most companies have a formal annual review process, pretty standard to find that. While that’s good, it’s not the most effective feedback sessions because frequency is a key part of an effective feedback loop. In order to have full transparency into your performance, it is the informal feedback you accrue throughout your day to day performance that will ultimately help you grow the most in the year.

Alexandra Dobkin: It’s important that how your work is perceived by your team and your management because that will become your performance review, affect your pay, I like to get paid, and ultimately your future opportunities. You and you alone are responsible for your professional development. Part of that responsibility means knowing how you are doing and having a plan for where you’re headed. You should have full insight into both. The way to get that is through quality and timely feedback.

Alexandra Dobkin: So just a recommendation, I like to have bi weekly check ins with my manager to make sure I know how I’m doing. All right, let’s talk about tools and technologies. So the tools offered to help you perform your job will directly impact your quality of life at work, especially if you’re in tech. Efficient tools and automated processes allow you to spend more time doing your work and less time doing manual processes, which I personally find very boring. Moreover, staying up to date with industry leading and current technologies gives you more transferable skills and will make you more competitive as an applicant for your next role.

Alexandra Dobkin: It is important that where you work positions you for success by maximizing your time spent doing the work and minimizes the time spent doing manual processes. Especially as a software engineer, where automating things is our passion and manual stuff is just the worst. I’m preaching to the choir here though, right? Yeah. So optimal work environments are a moving target. So companies need to prove to you that they’re aware of this and constantly striving for a best in class work experience.

Alexandra Dobkin: All right. Trainings. How a company trains its workforce demonstrates its investment in people. Quality trainings improves workplace learning and workforce effectiveness. It also builds your repertoire of skills, which make you more of an asset to the company and sets you up for success beyond the current role. A company’s investment in your professional growth and development makes you a more valuable employee. I value learning and growing my career, don’t you? Yeah. Then a great hallmark of your learning potential is measured by the number and quality of trainings a company offers.

Alexandra Dobkin: All right. Number 10, career potential. When evaluating a position it is important to assess the job as a building block to your career. A job should open doors for you and give you access to more opportunities at your own company, as well as externally. If a company is offering you a job but you but cannot see how your career will progress there, you’re looking at a dead end. To have a career at a company, you need to see other opportunities for professional development now, as well as in the future. So just to be clear, you don’t need to have a whole 10-year-plan mapped out. You don’t need to go like overboard with that.

Alexandra Dobkin: You just need to be able to have evidence that you’ll be progressing in your career. Even if you have no clue what your next step is. If you’re not going to retire anytime soon, then you want to make sure that the job will open doors for your career. So just to recap, 10 questions. One, oh the animation’s still working. There we go. That’s what’s up.

Alexandra Dobkin: So in everything that we covered, so one through six, we talked about customers, community, health and wellness, diversity and inclusion, culture, impact. Seven feedback, tools and technologies, trainings, and career path options. And then just as an aside, talking about the 11th question or the 12th, and 13th, and 14th, and how you’re going to carry on the rest of your conversations. When I was reflecting on my own experiences, and coming up with these own questions, a friend actually recommended a site to me. I don’t know if you guys have heard of

Alexandra Dobkin: Yes, no, maybe so, okay. Really cool site. And if you go /culturequeries, they actually have a lot of really great questions and kind of ask you questions to help you figure out the questions you should be asking. I personally feel it’s a really valuable experience to come up with your own questions based on analyzing what you value, but definitely check out the site for some inspiration. So with that, thank you. Yeah. All right. And one last note.

Alexandra Dobkin: So just as a final note, I just wanted to say, I’m so excited that Bloomberg is hosting a Girl Geek Dinner, not to take all the credit, but I totally came up with the idea and proposed it.

Audience Member: It’s true.

Alexandra Dobkin: It’s true, it’s true. But only because I personally attended a number of Girl Geek Dinners and I really thought the experience was so awesome and so amazing. For me, I’ll share that at the height I was going to have my early dinners… The height of my Girl Geek Dinners attendance was when I was job searching. I don’t know if you guys are job searching? For me, my whole tactic was I’ll go, I’ll network, obviously, eat the good food. I’ll network and I wanted to make sure I had a really solid conversation with at least one person, it didn’t have to be more than one, but a really good solid conversation.

Alexandra Dobkin: Got that business card and I got a first round interview, if not further, with every single Girl Geek dinner company that I attended. So I just want to say make the most out of tonight. Eat the food, it’s really awesome, and feel free to come talk to anyone, blue shirt, sparkles, whatever it is. So thank you.

Audience Member: Yay.

Narrator: What impact does extreme weather have on oil production in the North Sea? How is the one peso tax helping save an entire generation of children? If 70% of everything we buy is delivered by truck, what happens to your grocery bill when there’s a severe driver shortage? How can bread scarcity spark a global political revolution? Our planet is alive and interconnected, continually shifting, adapting, and growing. Every event bigger or small results in other events.

Narrator: At Bloomberg, you’ll investigate, examine, and interpret these unique and seemingly unrelated connection points in real time. The success of our business relies on people just like you… Who can look into the future and create groundbreaking technology… Research… And expert insight to answer the world’s most complex questions. When we solve problems with a greater sense of purpose… Change begins… Dots connect… Society excels…

Narrator: The world transforms when work has meaning. Your career thrives when you feel a deep connection to it. That’s why at Bloomberg, we work on purpose. Ready to find yours?

Mario Cadete: Great. Thank you everybody. Thanks speakers. I couldn’t have said it better myself. Not even close. Thanks to my team. Thanks to Girl Geek. Again, thanks to Bailey. Please come talk to us. I think we’re here till 8:30. Have some more food, drink and so on. It really has been a pleasure. Hopefully, you come and speak to me. I’d love to meet as many of you as possible. Thanks again.

Thank you for coming out to Bloomberg Engineering Girl Geek Dinner with VR and Terminal demos, talks and networking!  Erica Kawamoto Hsu / Girl Geek X

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