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Grace Hopper Celebration India 2018

There is no expiry date for dreams
-Geetha Kannan (MD, AnitaB.org)

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Grace Hopper Celebration India commenced on November 14, 2018.
The conference by name and by spirit devotes to women in computing by providing an exposure to the tech workforce which includes career opportunities, a huge professional network, technical talks, motivational keynotes and several tracks related to tech and non-tech to participate into.

I participated in this three-day conference as a student scholar. The crowd remarked some great insights by having 99% women against 1% men, 401 organisations and around 5000 people. I had never admitted such a massive and diverse crowd. I felt like a free bird, meeting all sort of personalities, no cabins, no appointments and no pending emails. It was so cool!

Keynotes

Here are my takeaways from the keynotes:

Keynote Speaker, Lori Beer

Lori Beer is the Global Chief Information Officer (CIO) of JPMorgan Chase & Co. and a member of the firm’s Operating Committee. She is responsible for the firm’s technology systems and infrastructure worldwide.
She shared her career journey so far and the way she ended up as a CIO. Also answered the queries of professional mothers and told how she balanced her career and upbringing of the kids.

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  • Focus on T shaped skills
    Our skills should be in "T shape". That means for some skills we require deep understanding and know all the nitty-gritty and at the same time, we should expand our areas of reach and knowledge, thereby covering the breadth too.
    I never heard such term before!!
  • Women underestimate themselves a lot
    Be confident and do not undermine your capabilitites. She shared a fact that women underestimate themsleves 30% from what they are actually.
  • Get out of your comfort zone
    She shared that she never knew or had aim of becoming a CTO. She susequently took all roles that came her way and constanltly push herself to do more and more.
  • Be prepared, know the skills
    She stressed the fact that when you don't have the skills you will get uncomfortable. So be prepared and learn the skills before playing.

Keynote Speaker, Vaishali Kasture

Vaishali Kasture is the co founder of Sonder Connect, a not-for-profit organization that mentors women founders. She shared her 25 years of experience of working in Banking and Financial services. Also titled as the first Indian woman to complete all 6 world major marathons!

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  • We are more than ourselves
    Sharing her experience, she told how she overcame doubting herself when she was offered a post or some great opportunity. She suggested that we are more than what we think about ourselves. We just don't realize it ourselves.
  • Take feedbacks
    Know what you are doing by asking from your peers and seniors. The idea is simple: if you are not doing any mistakes, you are not learning!
  • Be optimistic as a leader, people look to you
    Talking about the "Financial Crisis 2008", Vaishali shared her experience of handling the situation. The employees of her firm were in panic and doubted about their jobs.
    In spite of not having solid plans then, as a leader, she made them rest assured about their jobs and stopped them from leaving the firm. Later on with her and her team's hardwork the firm sustained the affect. The fact is your people look for you when a state of emergency or crisis appears. As a leader, if you fail to be mentally stable then other people lose hope too and things start breaking thereafter.
  • Prepare an elevator pitch! What is your brand?
    She stressed on preparing an elevator pitch while introducing yourself to somebody. You should know who you are and what you want people to know about you. It is knowing your brand.
  • Understand the industry
    Mentioned the importance of knowing the trends in the market. Like market is know toward containerisation rather than VMs.
  • Push yourself out of your comfort zone everyday
    This is a really cool mantra that I noted from the keynote. She is a marathon champ and was giving a talk to tech people when she herself is a non-tech person. She remarked that a product of this mantra of going out of the comfort zone.

She ended the talk with the phrase:

There is a special place in hell for a women who do not help other women!

The pledge

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This one was a thriller. It was an intense moment of taking a pledge with thousands of women surrounding and I was feeling so happy to be a part of it.
Jacqueline Copeland-Carson, Chief Operating Officer, AnitaB.org told us to take a pledge to fulfil Anita Borg's dream of achieving 50-50 ratio of men and women in the tech workforce by 2020.
I don't remember it word by word but the words that I noted in mind were:

to work every day in every way in achieving Anita's dream!

So it is like, be passionate, work everyday, clear your hurdles and give your 100% always!

Afreen Rahman

final year computer science student who loves to talk about tech, plays Pacman and minesweeper, and currently building a COOL compiler!!

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