Yesterday, I had the pleasure of attending my second Bay Area Girl Geek Dinner, hosted by Microsoft. Since we were holding the event at our awesome new Executive Conference center, various members of the Silicon Valley Women at Microsoft group got a chance to attend and volunteer.
Firstly, I have to give mad props to volunteers who check in huge volumes of people at large conferences and for the organizers themselves. The Bay Area Girl Geek Dinners have grown huge – out of the roughly 1200+ lottery entrants, around a third are offered a tickets – and the amount of planning that goes into holding these events is extraordinary.
After an introduction by Lisa Brummel, Microsoft’s Vice President of Human Resources, two members of the Skype team presented an inspiring technical talk about machine learning and how it was being used as a prediction method to serve customized content during Skype conversations. This was accompanied by a cheesy yet “feel good” video around how Skype is connecting the world that brought out a few laughs from the crowd and a live demo that had a surprisingly human interactive feel to it.
“It’s about generating energy. Change comes from directing that energy. Do something great.” – Lisa Brummel
Lisa got back on stage and spoke openly about her history at Microsoft and the importance of being energetic and passionate about the work you’re doing. Julie Larson-Green talked about her “don’t tell me I can’t do it” personality that always pushed her to thrive on the challenges of making the impossible a reality and spoke whimsically of a childhood tale involving coffee and the importance of taking responsibility for finding solutions. She also had on a fabulous pair of stilettos and made no apologies for being the type of girl to rock an awesome pair of shoes.
Following a panel discussion about work and lesser-known trivia about Microsoft (apparently a single Xbox generation can have 4-5 different physical interior designs throughout its lifetime) I enjoyed a chance to snack on delicious free food – the Girl Geek Dinners are delightfully catered – and network with other women from the industry. I had a chance to catch up with several attendees that I had met at other conferences and a few coworkers I hadn’t seen in some time, and left with a renewed sense of community and excitement for what lies ahead in tech.