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

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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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Girl Geek X Microsoft Lightning Talks & Panel (Video + Transcript)

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Angie Chang speaking

Girl Geek X Welcome: Angie Chang kicks off a sold-out Microsoft Girl Geek Dinner at Microsoft Reactor in San Francisco, California.  Erica Kawamoto Hsu / Girl Geek X

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

Angie Chang: So hi, everyone. My name is Angie Chang and I’m the founder of Girl Geek X. I want to thank you so much for coming out tonight to the Microsoft Reactor. I’m super excited to see everyone here and to introduce you to all of Microsoft’s girl geeks, to see this amazing art and tech demos. Who here signed up for a demo? I saw a lot of people interested in demos and getting tours, so I’m really excited that you are able to do that. Thank you once again to Microsoft and to all the people who helped plan this night.

Angie Chang: How many of you this is your first Girl Geek Dinner? Wow. And how many of you consider yourself like a regular at Girl Geek Dinners? Thank you so much for coming back again and again. We do this almost every week, going to different tech companies, meeting the girl geeks, and we hope you tune into our podcast. We have a regular podcast on topics from internet security, to emotional security, to management, to working in the Silicon Valley. So please tune in on iTunes or Spotify. We also have a very active social media. So if you follow us at Girl Geek X, you can also tweet and share with Girl Geek X Microsoft tonight and we will retweet and reshare.

Angie Chang: Now I would like to introduce our first presenter. Her name is Kaitlyn Hova and she is the co-owner of Hova Labs, where they have designed and produced the Hovalin, which is a 3D printed violin. Kaitlyn.

Kaitlyn Hova: Thank you so much for having me. This is wonderful. So my name is Kaitlyn Hova. I currently work at Join and I also co-own a company called Hova Labs, where we like to make a bunch of weird projects. It’s kind of like one of those like, “If I had time, why wouldn’t I make this?” kind of companies. So it’s just me and my husband and the biggest thing that we really wanted to do was to find a way to convey what synesthesia was like in real time. Who here knows what synesthesia is? Yeah, it’s not very many people. It’s all right. So synesthesia is a neurological phenomenon in which two senses are inherently crossed, causing sensations from one sense to lead to an automatic but also involuntary experience in another. A version of this is called chromesthesia, which is when people can physically see sounds.

Kaitlyn Hova: I didn’t know this was in any way unusual until I was around 21 years old when I was in my final music theory course and our professor just mentioned, “Isn’t it crazy? That some people can see sounds?” Yeah, I ended up dropping my music degree and going into neuroscience, because that’s way more interesting, right?

Kaitlyn Hova: So, ever since then, I’ve been trying to find a way to display what synesthesia was like, because when you’re discussing it with people, it tends to end up going into the more like psychedelic conversation, and it’s not really. So, how to display it? I play violin, so we thought, “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if there was a violin that we could light up with the colors that I see in real time?” This didn’t exist, so of course you have to go to the drawing board, and the first thing on our list was, “What if we had a clear violin and we just put LEDs in that?” We couldn’t find a clear violin and if we could, it was probably too expensive.

Kaitlyn Hova: So, ended up deciding like, “Well, how hard would it be to 3D print one?” It took a year and a half to figure out how not to make a violin and then to figure out how to. I think we went through about like 30 or 40 iterations because you end up getting really desperate and saying like, “Well, what is the violin anyway?” because it’s really hard to make this. It started out as a stick with strings and then kind of grew from there.

Kaitlyn Hova: So now, here it is. Once we got our first prototype, we ended up deciding that this violin on its own, LEDs aside, was a really great product, so why not release it open source for people to 3D print their own music programs? We’re still seeing a trend in schools where music is systematically underfunded, while these same schools are getting STEM grants, so why not? Seems like a connection there. Thank you.

Kaitlyn Hova violin playing synthesia

Violinist Kaitlyn Hova plays a few songs at Microsoft Girl Geek Dinner.   Erica Kawamoto Hsu / Girl Geek X

Emily Hove: Let’s hear it for Kaitlyn. Kaitlyn, thank you so much.

Kaitlyn Hova: Thank you.

Emily Hove: This is fantastic. What a great way to start off such an inspirational evening.

Kaitlyn Hova: Thanks.

Emily Hove: So thank you very much.

Kaitlyn Hova: Cheers.

Emily Hove speaking

Program Manager Emily Hove welcomes the Girl Geek X community to Microsoft Reactors around the world, from San Francisco to London!  Erica Kawamoto Hsu / Girl Geek X

Emily Hove: Welcome, everybody. Welcome to the San Francisco Microsoft Reactor and the Girl Geek Dinner.

Kaitlyn Hova: Thank you, Chloe.

Emily Hove: My name is Emily Hove. I’m part of the global Microsoft Reactor program and we have a lot of synergies between Girl Geek and the Microsoft Reactors. Similar to the way Girl Geek inspires and connects women in technology, our Reactors are all about being community hubs and everything that is related to developers and startups, giving developers and startups the tools where they can learn, connect, and build. So, we hope you all find a night that is inspiring and where you’re able to connect and build today.

Emily Hove: If you’re interested in a little bit more about the Reactor program, we’ve got some cards around the room and they talk about some of the fantastic upcoming workshops and meetups that we have. So we’d love to encourage you to check out our calendar of events and invite you all to attend. With that, I’d like to bring up Chloe Condon, who will be our MC for the evening, and help introduce some of the inspiring people and inspiring women in technology that we have for you tonight. So Chloe, cloud developer advocate extraordinaire.

Chloe Condon: Hello. Thank you so much for coming. This is theater in the round. So I’m just going to keep walking in a circle like I’m giving a very serious keynote so you all don’t see my back. Thank you so much for coming tonight. We are so excited to have you here at the Reactor. Who’s first time at the Reactor, this event? Incredible. That is so exciting. I hope we see you here a lot more. If you want to participate in one of the Fake Boyfriend workshops that I put on here, you can build a button to get you out of awkward social situations, come see me after. We are doing those all the time here. They’re so much fun. Also ask me about my smart badge. This is a little scrolling LED badge that we’re probably going to do a workshop for pretty soon, as well. So come see me after if you’re interested at all in learning about those events and we’ll get you signed up for them.

Chloe Condon: I’m going to tell a little story before I introduce our first guest. I am so, so excited to be your MC tonight. I actually met Angie because I went to Hackbright. Do we have any Hackbright or bootcamp grads in the audience? No. Amazing. So, Angie spoke at my bootcamp and told us all about Girl Geek Dinner and I thought, “That sounds so cool. I would love to go to one someday.” So it’s literally a dream come true to be here with all of you today. This is my first Girl Geek Dinner ever, and I get to be your MC.

Chloe Condon: So, I’m so excited to introduce our first speaker tonight. She is incredible. Please, please show everybody how cool your dress is when you come up here, or I’ll be very upset. I would like to introduce Kitty who is going to tell us all about the incredible technology and fashion that she uses to make things like the amazing dress that I’m sure she’s about to tell you about. So Kitty, come on up. All right.

Kitty Yeung Microsoft Girl Geek Dinner

Microsoft Garage Manager Kitty Yeung gives a talk on “Hacking at the Microsoft Garage” at Microsoft Girl Geek Dinner.  Erica Kawamoto Hsu / Girl Geek X

Kitty Yeung: Hi, everybody. Good evening. Thank you so much Chloe for introducing me. In fact, I’m not going to talk about my dress. That’s for the demo later. I’m going to talk about actually what’s behind that, all the innovation work that we’ve been doing at Microsoft. So, I’m the manager of The Garage at Microsoft. How many of you have heard of The Garage before? Some of you, some of you I’ve met actually.

Kitty Yeung: So, this is a program that drives the innovation, drives a culture of innovation and experimentation. How do we do that? We say, “Doers not talkers.” We actually get our hands dirty. When we think about something, we act on it. These are the culture pillars for Microsoft. To a lot of us when we first see them, they saw just words, but how do we actually implement these and achieve this? We have all kinds of programs and mechanism to drive innovation in Microsoft. Hacking, we have global sites, we have internship programs, experimental outlet is how we ship projects out, and we have intrapreneurs program, and we do storytelling. So I’m going to go into each of these.

Kitty Yeung: The hacking at Microsoft has become the culture. We actually organize the world’s largest global hackathon at Microsoft, and The Garage is the organization that organizes it. Guess how many people attended this year? Globally, there were 27,000 people attending our hackathon, and everyone was excitedly bringing their great ideas to the hackathon and forming teams all around the world. Whether or not you know them, whether or not you’re from the same org, same teams, you can put your skills together and build something that you feel passionate about. We had thousands of projects every year submitted to the hackathon, and The Garage helps people not only have these ideas submitted, we help them grow their ideas into prototypes, and we help them ship.

Kitty Yeung: Satya is a big supporter of our hackathon. He walks in the tent and look at the projects. He said last year, “Bigger ideas, more customers.” So, we can hack on anything we want. So it could be small things. It could be something that we use every day. It could be something that has real impact in the society, we can really help our customers achieve their industry scale ideas. So we also work with our customers and we bring our customer come here to hack.

Kitty Yeung: The experimental outlet, we also call it a ship channel. So this is a mechanism for us to get those ideas in but also provide them with the business model, idea building, how to enter the market, and we help our employees ship those projects out. So if you go to The Garage website, you will see about 100 projects that’s already in the market, and we feature our employees who came up with those good ideas. You can see all the teams on the website, everyone who put their part time together to really achieve something. So, we also have very big projects that we collaborated with industry partners and customers.

Kitty Yeung: Intrapreneurs program is kind of a internal startup program. It involves these ideas, these teams, hackathon teams, to actually pitch their ideas to the leaders and get support. So some of these projects can grow into a feature of an existing Microsoft product, or sometimes they become a product of Microsoft.

Kitty Yeung: We also run our internship program very differently. If you are familiar with traditional internships, usually students come in and they work under one manager in a big team working on a small part of a big project. Instead, our interns come in as a team and inside a team usually we hire like 30 students per site. Silicon Valley just started our first pilot program, so we only had one team, but we have six really, really good students. Usually we’ll have teams of six to eight, and they have developers, usually a PM, and a designer, forming a complete skill set. Then business teams at Microsoft pitch their ideas to our interns and the interns pick which one they like to do, and they drive it like a startup in the company for 12 weeks. Then they can deliver the projects back to the team, or even better, we can ship it directly into the market. It’s a very, very competitive and rewarding program. So if you’re undergrad, think about applying to that internship program at The Garage.

Kitty Yeung: We also engage with storytelling, those ideas, those projects got shipped out. We tell a story, we have a PR team, and you will see a lot of news articles about Microsoft innovation. Pay attention next time when you read an article like that if they mention The Garage.

Kitty Yeung: The global sites is also our feature. We have seven global locations right now for The Garage, and we are expanding. Each location has our own ecosystem, and also, each location has our facility. We have maker spaces, we have technologies that we provide to our employees. They can do prototyping, they can bring their ideas to share with their colleagues. We do startup pitching. We do show and tell and workshops to educate our people and also give them a platform to achieve their collaborations.

Kitty Yeung: So these are the seven sites worldwide. We’re in Silicon Valley and we are now called The Garage Bay Area. And as you can imagine, we have a unique ecosystem of a lot of startups, a lot of big companies and universities. So we work with all of these people in the ecosystem and we collaborate to really build projects that can impact the world. So, as I mentioned, we work with our employees and engage with all of our business teams inside Microsoft, and we work with customers. We bring them to work on projects and hack with us.

Kitty Yeung: Here are some numbers. You can see that we have very global and diverse team, but we actually only have 20 people worldwide. So, the 20 people drive all of those activities that I just mentioned. 27,000 hackers this year is an updated number. Last year, behind that 27, there was 23,000. You can see that it’s growing every year. It’s only going to get bigger. 76 countries participate and we’ve held more than 100 interns already. With the most competitive schools around our local areas. You can find more than 100 projects that’s in the market and on the global website. 19 of them became actual Microsoft products and lots of social media posts, lots of news articles about Microsoft innovation. So, make sure you follow us on the social media.

Kitty Yeung: Some of the Bay Area’s specific projects. Seeing AI, we build a lot of projects that help the people with needs, people who have disabilities. Seeing AI is a project that we shipped a few years ago that help blind people see through technology. So you can hold a phone, the camera will detect what’s in front of you and also read it out, interpret. It can also detect facial expressions and people’s age. So it gives blind people information about their surroundings.

Kitty Yeung: Sketch 360 is a project we just shipped last year, is by an artist inside Microsoft, Michael Scherotter. He had an idea of, “Why don’t we sketch 360 pictures directly?” So, we can build like a full environmental canvas and you can draw anything you want. You can also put that into VR or AR to visualize it. We also last year shipped some apps. Spend is by MileIQ team. So, lots of local projects. We’re just going through our hackathon projects this year.

Kitty Yeung: So personally, that’s why I’m also here to do a demo. I’ve build some of the projects in The Garage to satisfy personal ambitions of anyone in Microsoft can use The Garage as a resource to build their communities, can build their projects. So I have built a lot of wearable technologies. I’m doing a demo right there. We have these different dresses with different sensors and AI, machine learning functionality, and robotic dresses that I can show you later on. But I also have a passion for quantum computing because of my physics background. I’m a physicist, actually. So, I see the need to build a community of people learning about quantum. So this is a study group that I founded in Bay Area, teaching people how quantum computing works, including physics, maths, the hardware, and software, and any employee with good ideas, they can do this. So we have a lot of employees who wanted to do, say AR tech community, they can come to The Garage and do that. Or they have passion for IOT, they can come to The Garage and do that. So, these are just some examples.

Kitty Yeung: So since Girls Geek is also sort of about career, I think this will be my last slide to show you something about your aspiration. This is a guide. So see where you are in this chart of Ikigai and see where you are and figure out what would you like to be. I think for me, I can feel Ikigai in Microsoft because I’m doing something I love, something the world needs, and something I can be paid for that’s important, and something I’m good at. So, if you can get to that sweet spot, that should be your goal. Also, think about how you’re aligned to the global goals. That’s what I can do. I highlighted some of the goals that I could do in the company as well as through my personal projects. I think I would love to expand this and I think this will be a good guide for everyone, how we can do more impactful work for the world. Thank you.

Chloe Condon: Okay. Wait. You cannot leave the stage without sharing this dress. I’m going to make you model it. It is so incredible. So, do you want to say a little bit about it first?

Kitty Yeung: Okay. This is one of my designs, among the other ones I brought. All of these prints are my own paintings. This is a painting of Saturn and I wanted to simulate Saturn on the dress. How do I do that? Because Saturn has a ring, so why don’t I make a ring that when I rotate it will show Saturn. It also has an angle detector. There’s an accelerometer in here. So if it achieves a certain angle it will light up like the stars.

Chloe Condon: Amazing, amazing.

Kitty Yeung: Thank you.

Chloe Condon: Thank you so much. When you wear such a fabulous dress, we should have had a catwalk. I’m so sorry everyone. Amazing. Thank you so much, Kitty. I really, really love that and I loved that final slide. I took pictures of it so I can look at it later and map out my own plan. I am so excited to introduce our next guest that is going to tell us all about machine learning. Priyanka, come on up to the stage. I have a little … do you need a clicker? Amazing. Here you go.

Priyanka Gariba speaking

Head of TPM for AI Priyanka Gariba gives a talk on “Leading a large scale and complex machine learning program at LinkedIn” at Microsoft Girl Geek Dinner.  Erica Kawamoto Hsu

Priyanka Gariba: Hi, everyone. First off, I’m not showing off anything as cool as what the other women did, but I also want to say this is my first time here at Girl Geek Dinner and I think this is amazing. Look at the energy, like room full of women. How many times in a day do we get to see that, or even a month, right? So thank you for having me. My name is Priyanka Gariba and I lead Artificial Intelligence Technical Program Management group at LinkedIn. My talk for today is going to be how we are scaling machine learning at LinkedIn. We are one of the large and complex program that has been funded by our engineering group.

Priyanka Gariba: So, I’ve structured my talk into four different areas. I’ll give a quick introduction on LinkedIn and some of the products that are really powered very heavily by machine learning. I will then get into the problem statement of what we are trying to do in order to scale machine learning. Then talk a little bit about our technology, and then wrap it up with sure, we can scale with building a solution and with technology, but there’s also an aspect of people, and so how do we scale that, and what is LinkedIn doing about it? Okay. All right. With that, let’s get started with the vision and mission for LinkedIn.

Priyanka Gariba: Our vision is to create economic opportunity for every single member in the global workforce. Our mission is, the way we are going to realize it is of course by connecting world’s professional to make them more productive. Let’s take an example of this room itself, right? So many cool things that were shown up, so many cool people, so many cool women that we spoke to. Just imagine if we were connected to one another, there’s so much value we can bring in each other’s life, and LinkedIn can help us do that. So, how are we trying to realize our vision and our mission is through some of our products.

Priyanka Gariba: I’m hoping and I think everyone here is at least having a profile on LinkedIn, and if you’re not connected to the cool women here in the room, I encourage that before you leave, definitely connect with one another. But some of the products that really help us do that is People You May Know. This is a product line that really helps us build our connections. It understands, there is a recommendation system that runs behind it, there is machine learning models that run behind it, very heavily AI powered, and it really allows us to know who are the people, like minded people, that we need to be connected to, and the value we can bring in each other’s life by just having that connection.

Priyanka Gariba: Then of course there is Feed. Everybody who goes on LinkedIn as a platform is going to see Feed as the first product. Jobs is another product, which is very heavily powered by machine learning behind it. Why am I talking about all these products? AI at LinkedIn is like oxygen, and one thing that all these products have in common is AI. With that, what that means is we know that machine learning is everywhere. It’s powering every single product line that we build, it’s helping us bring the best experiences to all our members across the board. So, because of that one reason, we know that what we need to do is we need to enable more people to do machine learning at LinkedIn.

Priyanka Gariba: So, there are two pieces to my talk. One, which I think I’ll dive into more than the second one, is going to be technology. There’s one way we can scale technology, is by building a solution. How do we enable our machine learning engineers to really build and deploy models faster so that the experiences that they can bring to all the members is at a faster rate. The second one is by scaling people.

Priyanka Gariba: So, to tap into the exact problem that we are trying to solve, let’s look at our machine learning development life cycle. It’s as simple as any software development life cycle, right? Basically a machine learning engineer has an idea, there’s something you want to solve for, what is the first couple of things that they would do? They’ll think about what are the machine learning features that are available to them? How do you crank up all these features together? Try and test it in an offline model, train with some datasets, and once you value it and feel comfortable that this is something good, the next big piece is going to be actually serving it in production and then seeing results through AB testing and all of that.

Priyanka Gariba: I’m not going to dive too much into this. This really just is an extension of that life cycle. Basically you start with an idea and then there are different functions along the way. There is a product management, there’s dev, and the way we really make decisions on product is very heavily powered by our AB testing platform. We make ramp decisions only based on that. Once we see the results, only then do we believe that that is a model that we want to ramp further to our members.

Priyanka Gariba: Why talk about all of this? Why talk about the life cycle, right? If all these products are being built at LinkedIn and if so many people are doing it and all the teams are doing this, what that means is every single team is doing and deploying models in a very different way. There are many, many technologies, they are all on different stacks, it’s not standardized across the board, and one thing we encourage at LinkedIn is for people to move around within teams. So today if you want to work on a Feed team, tomorrow you want to work on a Job Recommendation team, how do you do that? Your stack is different. Half the days are going to be spent in just ramping up.

Priyanka Gariba: So, we introduced something called as Productive Machine Learning. Really our goal is to enable end to end experience of machine development life cycle to be more robust, reliable, and consistent, and standardized. The experience we are looking for is for an ML engineer, all you have to worry about is come up with an idea, and then there is everything else is opaque for you. There is a big box and you don’t have to worry on how you move from one phase to the other. Ideation to machine learning features to training to scoring to serving it in the introduction. You don’t have to worry about this and how are we going to do that.

Priyanka Gariba: So, we’ve put together this program, it’s to give you context, this is a really large scale program, about 6,200 engineers across the board working on it, different geolocations. The way we are structuring it is by talking about three different phases.

Priyanka Gariba: Model creation, going back to that life cycle that you saw, everything from ideation to training and evaluating your model comes under model creation. So we have multiple components that blend into that. Then the next piece for us is deployment. Once you believe that your model is really good and ready for serving, you deploy it in production. The third piece, this is not really a phase, but something that cuts across, is making sure your quality is accurate. Meaning features that you used for your offline training are very similar to what you see in online. So online, offline consistency.

Priyanka Gariba: So, I just wanted to, because I had 10 minutes, I just wanted to give you a flavor of this big undertaking that we are doing at LinkedIn and also give you a little bit of flavor of how we are structured. Typically, every time we build something, we follow a traditional model. You have a leader, you have multiple managers, you have engineers, and you come up with a goal on a project and everyone works together. This one, we wanted to do something different. What we did is, let’s bring every single person in LinkedIn who is really passionate about solving this problem.

Priyanka Gariba: So put together what’s your team, we had everyone across the board, in different geolocations too. There is someone who will be infrastructure heavy. There is someone who is a machine learning engineer who can help us really give us inputs when we are building the solution that it’s really going to work for them. Then there’s product managers, CPMs, engineers, across the board, but it’s really all of these coming together, forgetting the boundaries of management, realizing that there is one goal that we have, is to get an end to end machine learning life cycle ready, was the key thing for us. I already mentioned that, team of teams, we’re geolocated. That is also one reason why we wanted to do that, is we wanted engineers across the board because if we were solving a problem just for headquarters, which is in Mountain View, we will not be solving for everyone at LinkedIn.

Priyanka Gariba: Then of course with any product that you build in any company, there is a big piece of adoption. So, for us, the strategy that we have used is that let’s, the three big phases that we spoke about, let’s build small components underneath it and let’s allow every product team to pick up a component and adopt that depending on what their pain point is. So, for example, if a Feed team is really struggling with how do you train a model, then what we wanted to offer them is pick up that component and get adopted on that. Once you buy the idea, then slowly and gradually navigate into the adoption of the other components too. This helped both ways. This helped us get real early feedback from our customers and users, and then it also allowed us to load balance. So we could develop things while something was already being tested and we were getting that iteration loop from our users.

Priyanka Gariba: So, I spoke about the technology, and I spoke about the solution. The second thing that LinkedIn is doing, and I’m just giving a very high level preview of this, is in order for us to democratize AI or to make it readily available and to enable more engineers to do that, there’s a program that LinkedIn’s kicked off, it’s called AI Academy. There are three different types of courseworks of program, AI 100, 200, 300. As you graduate from one to the other, really the intensity of the techniques and machine learning increases. So AI 100 is really just getting a flavor of what AI is, what machine learning is, and get you familiarized with it. And then 200 you start understanding how do you build a model, and three is when you actually build your own model and put it in production. I can talk all about this and I’m happy to talk about it later on, but this is just a preview, and there’s a lot of blogs and things that we’ve already put on LinkedIn.

Priyanka Gariba: This is another blog for Productive Machine Learning for those of you who are interested in reading more about it, and I’ll share my slides as well. That’s it. Just a quick flavor. I had 10 minutes, so I thought at least I’ll come up here and talk to you and give you a flavor of what we are doing to democratize machine learning at LinkedIn. But happy to, I don’t know if I have time for questions, but I can take questions later on as well. Thank you.

Priyanka Gariba: Okay. I can take a question or two if … After. Okay. All right. Sure.

Chloe Condon: Thank you so much. All right. So, next up, I will take that from you. Next up we have a very special treat, but before I introduce our very special guest, I’m going to show you my favorite LinkedIn feature. How many people have added someone on LinkedIn tonight? Okay. Well now you’re going to add more people. So, if you go to your LinkedIn app in the very top in the search bar, there is a barcode, a scanning barcode, and if you click on that, instead of having to type out the person’s name and awkwardly ask for spelling, you can just scan their barcode tonight. So you can share that secret tip that I learned recently from someone else at a meet up that I now pass onto you to make spelling people’s names less awkward. So definitely scan everyone’s badge here tonight. My best advice always in tech is to meet as many people as you can, and tell your story and share their stories while you’re here tonight with all these amazing people.

Chloe Condon: I am going to welcome our very, very special guest for tonight, Charlotte. Come on down. We are so excited to welcome Charlotte Yarkoni to the SF Reactor. Here you go.

Charlotte Yarkoni speaking

Corporate Vice President, Cloud + AI Division, Charlotte Yarkoni gives a warm welcome at Microsoft Girl Geek Dinner.  Erica Kawamoto Hsu

Charlotte Yarkoni: Thank you. I need to start out and tell you guys, I’m sick. I really, really apologize for my voice. I’ve been told I don’t look as bad as I sound, so I thought it’d still be okay to show up, but hopefully you’ll manage to go with me this evening. It was important for me to come. So again, I hope you can work with me on the sound quality. But my problem is as I’m watching everybody on stage, I wanted one of these mics so I can put it down, cough, and anywhere I go I’m going to … somebody’s in my blast radius. So, if I come over here and stand by the post, please don’t be offended.

Charlotte Yarkoni: Anyways, good to be here tonight. Thank you guys all for coming. I thought what I would do is first share with you a little bit about my journey of being a woman in tech and what that’s meant to me in my career. I do need a clicker. My telepathic PowerPoint clicking slides are not on today due to the head cold. So, I actually go talk a lot to universities. I go to some high schools. I love talking to young girls about STEM, but I always kind of have to ground in. Let me tell you what tech looked like when I was in middle school and high school.

Charlotte Yarkoni: This was it, by the way. There were no smartphones, there were no tablets, there were no laptops. I remember when Asteroids came out and me and my brothers thought it was amazing. Right? So that’s kind of where we were. Then this was our social network. There was no Twitter, there was no WeChat, there was no Snapchat. It was pretty much a bonfire in somebody’s field when their parents were out of town in the town I grew up in. So, that’s kind of where I come from.

Charlotte Yarkoni: I actually, I grew up in South Carolina. I was super fortunate to get a scholarship to come to UC Berkeley. I’m pretty sure I’m the only person from South Carolina to ever go to Berkeley. I was actually part of an inaugural program at the time called Electrical Engineering or Computer Science, or EECS as it was known. This is what code looked like when I was coding. Has anybody ever written in Lisp? Anyone? Did anyone? Yeah. Kicking it old school. All right. So, that was sort of my education, if you will, and my real foray into tech.

Charlotte Yarkoni: Then, I got out of college and started working and figuring out how to use technology as an applied science, not just in an academic sense, and this was kind of the world I was in. Actually cell phones came out and yes, that’s what they looked like for those of you that weren’t born then, because I know there’s a few of you here. Windows 95 was all the rage, right? You remember that? Then we get to today and it’s just a very, very different world.

Charlotte Yarkoni: One of the things that I love about technology is the fact that it has actually opened up all of our worlds, in so many ways that we can have so much more impact. We can instantly connect to people that we could never connect to 30, 40, 50 years ago. I’m not that old, I’m just framing my comments. But you think about that and it’s not just connecting to those people, it’s the access to information that you also have immediately at your fingertips. It’s amazing. It’s amazing that what you can harness with that kind of resources at your fingertips.

Charlotte Yarkoni: The challenge is, though, it comes with a responsibility, and I will tell you, at Microsoft, and GitHub, and LinkedIn, we spend a lot of time on that. In fact, it’s not just about innovating, it’s about innovating with purpose, and really making sure that you’re actually leaving the world in a better place than you found it before you introduced your solutions. So it’s those unintended consequences that you have to be very thoughtful about. As we continue to get more and more technology at our disposal, how do we use it for good? That kind of brings me to really, what’s my role.

Charlotte Yarkoni: Today in my role is, at Microsoft, I run a group called Commerce and Ecosystems. You can tell I’m not a marketing person, so there you go. But I’m really here. I focus on answering three questions. The first is, how do people actually discover who we are and what we do in our products and services? And Microsoft’s a very big company, it’s a global landscape. We offer lots of different products and services across our portfolio, but there are a lot of ecosystems and communities that actually don’t know who we are and what we do.

Charlotte Yarkoni: Five years ago it was a lot about open source, and I remember I actually went to … I started at Microsoft about three years ago and I went to an open source conference. By the way, I grew up in open source, so my background actually started out in Unix and moved to Linux. I never wrote a piece of code in .NET. Would probably look and feel a little bit like Lisp to me, honestly, if I tried to do it now. So when I came to Microsoft, I went to a familiar conference, and people were like, “Why are you here, man? Azure doesn’t run Linux.” I’m like, “What are you talking about? Yeah, it does.” People need to know, right? So we had to go fix that.

Charlotte Yarkoni: Second thing I focus on is after you discover us, how do you engage with us in a way that’s meaningful to you? And most of that is online. People don’t always want to have to go somewhere to learn how to do something. They will now have to sign up for a week long course, right? Necessarily to know how to build a solution using the technology that they have. So we spend a lot of time and energy focused on that and what’s the set of tooling or resources that we can offer.

Charlotte Yarkoni: Then the final point is, how do we just get easier to do business with our customers and partners? That’s where the commerce piece comes in and it’s all about what are some of the new business models we need to create to actually, how do we run all those capabilities across all our products and all our channels today? So there is a good bit of engineering that comes in each one of these aspects, but there’s also a lot of business work that I have to focus on. And again, it comes with that overarching layer of responsibility, is to how do we think about continuing to make progress in a positive way so we can have a positive impact on the communities we serve.

Charlotte Yarkoni: So that’s kind of who I am, and I think what we’re going to do at this stage is a little bit of like an AMA, and I’m really hoping you guys don’t ask me too many questions because the more I talk I think the worse I sound, but I will try to answer everything for sure. I was going to have Chloe join me, and I was going to have Shaloo Garg join me. So, just as a reminder of both, Chloe and Shaloo are part of my team and they’re part of the drive discovery effort. So I’ll let you guys, you guys will talk a little bit more about yourselves, I’m sure, but I’m going to turn it over to our master of ceremonies. Kick us off. Do you want that mic or you want–

Chloe Condon: Sure. Mics all round here.

Charlotte Yarkoni: This one may be contaminated.

Chloe Condon: All right. I wouldn’t want to catch the virus, the Charlotte virus. Amazing. So, I figure we’ll have a seat. Have a seat wherever. We had a bunch of people submit questions earlier in our fishbowl, thank you so much for all of the questions that we got earlier. So, what I figured I would do is we would start with an introduction with Shaloo. Would you like to tell everyone who you are, what you do?

Shaloo Garg, Chloe Condon, Charlotte Yarkoni

Microsoft girl geeks: Senior Cloud Developer Advocate Chloe Condon, Corporate Vice President for Cloud + AI Charlotte Yarkoni, and Managing Director of Silicon Valley’s Microsoft for Startups Shaloo Garg answer audience questions with candor at Microsoft Girl Geek Dinner.  Erica Kawamoto Hsu

Shaloo Garg: Yeah. Absolutely. Firstly, thank you guys so much for coming here today. It means a lot. My name is Shaloo Garg and I lead the startup business growth for Silicon Valley for Microsoft, and entire California as well. It’s an exciting space to be in, and part of Charlotte’s team and part of what we do is not only engage with founders and CTOs and CIOs here of startups, but also drive meaningful partnerships, which is … this is Silicon Valley, there are a lot of partners here, how do we work with them to drive awareness of how Microsoft can help entrepreneurs there? So good to be here.

Chloe Condon: Amazing. Thank you so much. I have these randomly selected questions here.

Shaloo Garg: Those are a lot of questions.

Chloe Condon: It’s a lot of questions. I don’t know if we’re going to get through all of them. We may do kind of a rapid inside the actor’s studio type of lightning round at the end here. But I love this first one. I chose this one first and this is for Charlotte. It says, “What’s it like being an executive at one of the top companies? Do you have a life?” Great phrasing, whoever wrote this.

Charlotte Yarkoni: I’d like to think I have a life. Yes, I do have a life. I have two children, both girls, one–

Chloe Condon: Great. Are they coding already?

Charlotte Yarkoni: One is 23, just graduated. She went to Reed College, and by the way, back to Berkeley, I thought when I went to Berkeley from South Carolina, I was an enlightened liberal. And when I dropped my daughter off at Reed College, I felt like I was the most conservative person on the planet. I was a little worried about my life choices at that point. But she graduated there in linguistics and she actually is starting school this week, getting her master’s at University of Washington.

Charlotte Yarkoni: She would be very offended if I called her a developer or an engineer, yet she spends a lot of time writing programs and are doing statistical analysis on languages because she focuses on Russian, Japanese, Spanish language and language heritage.

Chloe Condon: Wow.

Charlotte Yarkoni: So, that’s my oldest. My youngest is 13, and a prolific gamer and developer. Python is her language of choice. She has lots of opinions about every other language.

Chloe Condon: As she should.

Charlotte Yarkoni: It kind of takes me longer these days to set up an environment for her to code in than it does for her to whip out a new game that she’s thinking about. So, I’m pretty sure she’s going to end up somewhere in the engineer community as a professional at one point. I also have three horses. I ride. I grew up three day eventing, for those of you who know what that is. Now that I’m older and have kids, I wondered what my parents were thinking when they let me do that. But I still ride and I still compete. Then I do my day job.

Chloe Condon: That is a fun fact.

Charlotte Yarkoni: I think the thing about today’s technology is, the good and the bad is it allows you to be accessible all the time. So, you can actually, you have to know how to be at the right place at the right time, which is usually the conflict that occurs, but you are able to go do what you need to do personally and do things professionally as you go. So that’s something I’m really, I feel privileged by who I work for in the industry I’m in and the technologies that we’ll be bringing for all the working moms out there.

Chloe Condon: Wow. That’s actually a great segue into the next question, which I’ll direct to Shaloo first, which is, how do you relax and unwind? Like with how long and tough your day jobs are, how do you get to chill?

Shaloo Garg: So, best is tennis. I love playing tennis and that’s how I unwind, and when I go out and play tennis, I try not to take my cell phone with me or my kids. So I have a 13-year-old daughter too, and a nine-year-old son who quite a handful.

Charlotte Yarkoni: Do you have any Serena moments on the court?

Shaloo Garg: I do. But that’s how I unwind, which is just completely unplug, just a moment of Zen and just go out there and hit it.

Chloe Condon: I’m very similar. I craft. I like to do like things with my hands and not look at a screen and just build something fun, like a costume or something that lights up. And you’re riding horses.

Charlotte Yarkoni: Yeah, but I could not build a costume. So, we each have our strengths.

Chloe Condon: Hit me up for Halloween. We’ll get you guys–

Charlotte Yarkoni: I’m going to hit you up for Halloween. Okay.

Chloe Condon: This one says, “What would be your advice for your past self coming straight out of college?” I love that question.

Charlotte Yarkoni: Who you asking?

Chloe Condon: Anyone can jump in. Yeah.

Shaloo Garg: I think coming out of college, I wish I was more aware of getting a coach or a mentor, which I was not aware. And during my career I sort of looked upon women leaders and requested them to be mentors and coaches. So what I try to do now is go out and coach and mentor women or young girls myself. So, I realize that they may be in the same situation as I was in, which is, “Hey, I can ask a woman leader to say, ‘Would you mind spending 30 minutes with me?'” But they don’t ask. Right? So I preemptively do that in schools, colleges here in Silicon Valley. Actually right up our Market Street office, that’s another office of ours, every month, I host open office hours for young women who are out there, budding entrepreneurs. It doesn’t have to do anything with Microsoft. So, as soon as you walk in the door, it doesn’t have to be, “Hey, you have to sign up to work with us,” but it’s just coaching, and I love it. So, wish I had that, but a part of me is just giving back, just making sure that someone out there is benefiting.

Chloe Condon: Yeah, that’s great advice. Charlotte.

Charlotte Yarkoni: I think, for me, one of the things that it’s taken me a long time to appreciate and I really, I encourage everybody to have some thought about this for their own journey, both personally and professionally, resilience is such an important thing. When I look back on my career, I feel, again, very privileged to have worked in all the places and spaces that I have. But the successes I had weren’t one success right after the other. It was a success built off of quite frankly, a mountain of failures and trials to get there. It was about taking those learnings and applying and getting better. I think a lot of what we do as an industry is about solving a problem, solving an opportunity, and getting better as we go, and iterating, and it’s really hard to do that as a person.

Charlotte Yarkoni: I’m going to go out on a limb and assume all you people here are somewhat overachievers. So every time that you have a failure, you want to prosecute the failure and you want to prosecute yourself, and that’s okay as long as you make it a constructive thing and learn from it, and the older you get and the more experienced you get, the more you start to really embrace and almost be proud of those failures for what they taught you, because you wouldn’t be wherever you are without it. That’s just a fact. I don’t know that I appreciated that in my younger age. I was certainly an overachiever and thought I knew a lot more than I knew at the time. I know that’s shocking, but it’s true. But as I went through my career, it was a process for me to understand how to really get value in the mistakes, how to really give value in the failures, and use them to move forward.

Charlotte Yarkoni: I just would encourage everybody, get out there and try. That’s step one and step two, is make sure you learn and embrace the mistakes, right? And it is about that of resilience that will just make you so much of a better person whatever you decide to do, however you decide to do it.

Chloe Condon: My advice would be, I don’t think I knew right when I graduated what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. I wish I had taken a little time to travel or maybe to explore different industries and fields that maybe I wanted to dip my toe in. Because I think what the wonderful thing about working in tech is you don’t have to commit to doing the same thing for your entire life. You can always change and learn a completely new technology or … There was a tweet that I think I retweeted this morning, which was, “Your job that you have in five years may not even exist. So try not to plan out your life too strategically,” and I think that’s really wonderful advice because technology is growing at a rapid rate and we may be working for something we don’t even know exists yet. The new, I don’t know, a new iPhone. Who knows?

Chloe Condon: Great. Next question that I have is, I love this one, “What’s the best book you’ve read this year?” Does anyone have one? I know mine. I can go first while people think.

Shaloo Garg: Go, go for it.

Chloe Condon: I read a book. Oh no, you go first because I want to make sure I get her name right, the author’s name right.

Shaloo Garg: So I think the life-changing moment for me was the book that I read by Eckhart Tolle. It’s called The Power of Now, and it teaches you a lot about what Charlotte talked about, failure. It also teaches you how to stay engaged but not attached, which is you’re really passionate about something that you’re doing. Keep that passion, but don’t get so emotionally sucked into it that you break down. So it also teaches you mindfulness and awareness. And then how to be an A player, which is you’re mindful, you’re aware of what you’re doing, but guess what? You got to go and get it. So I thought that was completely life-changing for me because I learned quite a bit in terms of just being strong, being very passionate about what I do, but not emotional, and then just chasing it, chasing the ball and just chasing the heck out of it.

Charlotte Yarkoni: Mine’s an oldie but a goodie, because my youngest was doing a book report on this one, the Life of Pi.

Chloe Condon: That’s a good one.

Charlotte Yarkoni: I just loved that. I haven’t read it in many years and so she brought it home and I brought out my copy so we could read it together. It is just an amazing book.

Chloe Condon: That is on my list. You said yours was The Power of Now?

Shaloo Garg: Power of Now.

Chloe Condon: Okay. Write that one down, everyone. I recently read Just the Funny Parts by Nell Scovell, she’s a female comedy writer, and I found … it’s an autobiographical piece. She used to write for Saturday Night Live, David Letterman, and it’s a completely male dominated field. It was the first time I had read about an industry other than tech that was similarly structured and formatted and it talked about, she’s a comedy writer, so it comes from this place of empathy and humor, and I would highly recommend it. She helped write Sheryl Sandberg’s book. She also wrote a lot of Obama’s jokes, I found out in that book. So, a lot of the things that made us chuckle from Obama came from her.

Chloe Condon: So, next one is, “Who has influenced you most in your life and why?”

Charlotte Yarkoni: That one’s actually really hard. I will tell you both my parents passed away in the last year. They were quite older. I’m the youngest of a large family. Pretty sure I was an accident, so, it’s okay. But you spend a lot of time reflecting on your nuclear family when those kinds of things happen, and they happen inevitably to everyone. So I definitely think my parents had a large influence on my life. I think my teachers had a large influence on my life. I’m the proud product of the public education system of South Carolina, which I think at the time I was growing up was like 49th in the country. But I went from there to UC Berkeley, which was an amazing school. And I had some amazing teachers to help me learn how to learn, is what I got from that.

Charlotte Yarkoni: I’ve been super fortunate to have some great mentors and what I would call guidance counselors throughout my career, that I still do lunch with and dinners with and catch up with. So, I feel like I’ve had a lot of influences and I do think for the last 20 plus years, though, my kids have probably taught me more humility and patience and resilience and all the other virtues we speak so highly of. They’ve probably been the biggest forcing function in my life in recent years.

Chloe Condon: What about the horses?

Charlotte Yarkoni: The horses are my sanity. I will tell you, we moved to Australia for a couple of years and I couldn’t take my horses with me and I was, my husband will tell you, I was a miserable person for the time I was gone.

Chloe Condon: I’m picturing you writing postcards back to your horses at home.

Charlotte Yarkoni: I came home. I came home every two months to see them.

Chloe Condon: Aww. How about you, Shaloo?

Shaloo Garg: So, parents, but I think my mom. So I lost my parents at a very young age. I remember when thinking back growing up, so I was born in India, but I grew up in Middle East, and I grew up in a community where there was lot of domestic violence and girls were not allowed to go to school. And so there were a lot of changes that were happening around me. In fact, while growing up, I went to 14 different schools between elementary, middle, and high school. So you can imagine moving from Saudi Arabia to Iraq, to Kuwait during the war zone time. But I remember going through all this, my mom always taught me and my sister is that, if there’s ever a problem in life and there is a simpler solution, and there is a hard solution, guess what? Pick the hardest one, because it’s going to make you go through that process, whereas a simpler one, you’re just going to take it and just sit with it and you’re not going to learn anything. So I do look back and I think that she’s had an amazing influence on me.

Shaloo Garg: And as Charlotte said, my kids, I keep learning from them every single day. They teach me so many things in terms of if I get upset about something, they’ll just say, “Hey mom, just relax. This is just a small thing, just move on.” I think that’s how I keep learning more and more. And of course, amazing coaches and mentors and some really amazing female leaders who I look upon to.

Chloe Condon: I would have to agree. My mother passed away when I was 16, but she was a costume designer, graphic designer, creative arts person, and I try to bring my creative arts training and background into all the technology that I do and create. So I think that was probably the biggest influence on me, would have to be my mom as well.

Chloe Condon: What is the biggest challenge we are facing in tech currently? A tough one.

Charlotte Yarkoni: I actually think our biggest challenge as a society is climate change. I think technology can be a solution for that. So, that’s an indirect answer to a direct question, but I would say that is the thing that I would love to see all of us, I don’t care what you’re doing, where you’re working, but to start having serious thoughts about how we can go reverse decades of adverse effect on the planet. It helps everybody, and I do think the real accelerants are going to lie not just in changing our behavior and our consumption, but also in having technology help us. I don’t think we’ve really gone there yet as a society at large. So for me, it’s something I’m kind of anxious to push along however I can in whatever small way that I can. I think that’s how I think about it.

Charlotte Yarkoni: With technology, you have things like quantum, which is just amazing. The beauty of working somewhere like Microsoft is we are spending a ton of research and we have really crazy people, crazy smart people working on this, and every now and then if I have to go give a talk and I need to give my five minutes of quantum computing update for the cloud, I always ask, “Are there any theoretical physicists in the audience? Because if there are, I’m not going to do this because you know way more than me,” kind of thing.

Chloe Condon: Come on up.

Charlotte Yarkoni: But it’s amazing, and in essence you take what sits in a data center the size of a football field today and you can run it in what’s in the size of a refrigerator in your house. But, the cooling you need to do that is extraordinarily more than the power we’re consuming today, and the impact that will have, by the way, if it’s not done right, either we’re not producing it correctly and/or we’re not cooling it correctly, can have a devastating effect. So how do we think about things like that, these new trends with this aspect of sustainability around the climate, I think is super important. So I apologize, I kind of rambled on that answer, but I actually think this one’s a really important one.

Chloe Condon: I agree. I actually met someone at Open Source Summit recently who works on our IOT team here at Microsoft in Redmond, and his job on the IOT team is to help offset our carbon emissions from our server center. So I thought, “That’s such an important, important way for us to help make the environment a better place with Microsoft.” So, yeah.

Charlotte Yarkoni: Absolutely, and the lady who runs our data centers, her name is Noelle, she’s a peer of mine. I love her dearly. She’s just an amazing woman. She actually grew up as a chemical engineer.

Chloe Condon: Wow.

Charlotte Yarkoni: A lot of her time on how do we run our data centers is spent in areas that you and I wouldn’t know how to go solve, because it is about how do you think about power? How do you think about new sources like geothermal and things like that. I think it’s great. I think it’s great we’re thinking that way, but we got to do more.

Chloe Condon: Yeah.

Shaloo Garg: I think the biggest challenge is the knowledge or the lack of awareness behind power of technology. So, I often see this, I keep bringing up edtech as a very common example, and in fact, here in the Valley, edtech is right now the hottest topic in the social impact circle. I can guarantee you, when I throw the word school out here and I ask you to just close your eyes and think of, tell me what you think of. You’re going to think of a building. You’re going to think of kids running, a blackboard, and a teacher. But that’s not what education is only. Education can be a seven-year-old girl sitting in Uganda who’s not allowed to go to school, but she can sit at home and do schooling at home using an iPad, right? Just because she’s a girl, she’s not allowed to go to school.

Shaloo Garg: That is the power of technology, and it kills me every single day when I read about places like Somalia and Syria, and so many other places, where easily companies, and Microsoft does amazing job, that’s one thing I’m really proud to be, which is be part of this company. We do amazing work globally in enabling this. I think we need to continue to talk about the power of technology, which we do in our jobs and outside our jobs, but we need more and more people to go out there and coach people and say, “Hey guys, education is just not about textbooks. It can be digital education powered by technology.” I think that to me is the biggest challenge right now, which is lack of awareness.

Chloe Condon: Yeah, accessibility and access to that is so important.

Charlotte Yarkoni: Can I interrupt this broadcast? Do we have any recruiters in the audience? Because I think we have our newest recruit. She did an awesome walk-in by the way.

Chloe Condon: Love the pants. Great pants. This is a very fun question. What emoji do you use most often?

Charlotte Yarkoni: I don’t use them correctly, as my children … I always send them stuff–

Chloe Condon: It’s the horse one, right?

Charlotte Yarkoni: … and they’re like, “Why did you send me this? Do you know what this means?” I’m like, “No. No.”

Chloe Condon: I think that’s part of your job as a mom, right?

Charlotte Yarkoni: Well, I have gotten in this habit of sending random ones just to freak my kids out.

Chloe Condon: Love it.

Charlotte Yarkoni: I usually am pretty clean at work with the okay and the goofball face, and the smiley face, but it cracks me up because we were just having this discussion the other day, because I sent something that apparently I shouldn’t have sent as a parent.

Chloe Condon: It’s like a secret hidden emoji language.

Charlotte Yarkoni: It really is.

Chloe Condon: Yeah.

Charlotte Yarkoni: And you, what do you use?

Chloe Condon: I would say it’s a tie between the sobbing emoji and the laugh crying emoji, because I don’t have any other two emotions other than those two extremes. There’s no in between for me. I’m either hysterically laughing or hysterically crying.

Charlotte Yarkoni: What do you use, Shaloo?

Shaloo Garg: Smile and laughter, and that’s it. For the kids, with the kids, I’ll just use hearts, and sometimes my daughter says, “Mom, just stop using those… You’re embarrassing me, mom.”

Chloe Condon: Yeah. What are the most important decisions you face every day? Or what is the most important decision you face every day?

Shaloo Garg: How to make founders successful, and especially in a market like this. I just love it. It’s an upstream market, constantly challenging ourselves. What else can we do? What else can we do in this market? I absolutely love it. It is challenging. It’s extremely challenging.

Chloe Condon: It’s a huge question.

Shaloo Garg: It’s a huge question. I’ve been with the company for eight months and when I joined initially, I was a bit nervous. I was like, “Great, I’m so excited about this job,” and when I went out there, talked to founders, everyone was like, everyone gave me a standard response, “Well, yeah, okay.” But now slowly and slowly we’ve started building it as part of the narrative that we haven’t only the meetings, which is how do we help the founders, and if we switched that, our jobs become much more easier, which is, “I’m here to help you and this is how I can help you.” So I think that to me is absolutely the most fun part.

Chloe Condon: Yeah.

Charlotte Yarkoni: By the way, as part of my team, that’s a great answer for these little startups. I think my job is really making the set of decisions that best serve our customers, our partners, best serve the team. It’s always a balance, right? We have so much we’ve got to get done. We love innovating, we love getting new capabilities out there, making sure that we’re doing that with the right sense of urgency and the right balance for the teams delivering them. Most of my day, in any one of my teams that I look at, is just making the right calls to make sure that we’re doing right by the community, as both our community that’s working on it and the communities we’re trying to serve.

Chloe Condon: Yeah. I would say for me it’s how to get people excited to learn, and what is going to get them having fun. Because I think we work all day, we work like an eight-hour plus day sometimes in front of machines using technology, and what are fun creative ways to get people excited about that and to build really cool, amazing things together that can solve these big questions and problems like the environment and getting accessibility to folks who don’t have the access to this technology. So, it’s always fun to enable that power to people.

Chloe Condon: How much time do we have? Do we want to do maybe one or two more questions? One more question. Okay, cool. Let’s see. I think this is a really good … Actually, I would love to end with your advice to all of our amazing women in this audience, and men in the audience. What would be your advice to someone who’s looking to move up in their career and have a successful career as a person in tech?

Charlotte Yarkoni: I think being you is the most important part. Whatever that means, right? Just be your most authentic self. It’s a hard thing to do. It’s a hard thing in our industry. It’s a hard thing in super competitive environments like here in San Francisco. Seattle is very similar in that regard. I have found people get the most reward and have the most success when they’re actually themselves, whatever that means. I also think being the authentic you will not just make you better, it will actually make whatever team you’re on better. It will make whatever company you’re at better, it will make whatever product or service you’re working on better. Just be you and be proud to be you.

Chloe Condon: I love that.

Shaloo Garg: So, I would say do what you’re passionate about because when you’re passionate, you bring your best. Do not be afraid to take risk, and I know this sounds like a cliche, but really challenge yourself. If there is a risk, if you want to do something and it looks very risky, just go ahead and do it. Maximum, you’re going to fail, but you’ll learn something from it. If you come out victorious, that’s great. Then the last thing I would say is just trust yourself and just believe in your instinct that you’re doing good for the business, you’re doing good for the company, you’re also doing good for those startups or customers or whoever your stakeholders are, and just go chase it. If you keep it straight and if you keep what I call the compass straight, there’s going to be lots of amazing learning in the process.

Chloe Condon: My advice is actually a great segue into our mingling and happy hour section. Mine would be to talk to as many people as you can in this industry. If you have the opportunity to get coffee with someone you really idolize or a mentor, or someone who’s doing what you want to be doing in this industry, having conversations, I think, is so wonderful and you are all about to use that LinkedIn feature that I just taught you, and meet some really amazing people. So make connections and network and yeah, have the most amazing time.

Chloe Condon: I want to thank both of our…

Shaloo Garg: Thank you.

Chloe Condon: … panelists today. Round of applause for Shaloo and Charlotte.

Charlotte Yarkoni: Thank you for hosting.

Chloe Condon: Of course. Thank you to to Kitty. Thank you to Priyanka. Thank you to everyone, to Kaitlyn who’s not here, but oh my gosh, that amazing, amazing musical performance we had to start off the evening. Please, enjoy yourselves. I think we still have some beverages and snacks here, so have a wonderful time. Make sure you get some swag and stickers and we will be around to chat. All right. Thanks everyone.

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