The Grace Hopper Celebration India is Asia’s largest gathering of women technologists. I happened to have a chance to be at GHCI this year which was also the 10th edition and was held in Bangalore from Nov 6-8. It was overwhelming to be surrounded by such a large number of women, we had over 5000 attendees this year from over 371 organizations and 151 different cities, Bangalore topping the chart. Grace Hopper Conference happens only in two places across the globe, one is in US and another in India.
The event was scheduled to start at 11:00 am with registrations until 3:00 pm followed by welcome speech and keynotes. Initially, I wondered why the entire day for registrations but it was not a question after I reached the venue and saw the number of people already in line for registrations, checkout the video in the tweet below. 😉 We(I along with others) were in the registration queue for almost an hour or more, and then we headed to Upper hall where there was Welcome lunch arranged for all the attendees. The menu was big, the food tasted very good and it was very well planned to cater to the number of attendees. Kudos to the food vendor for offering a varied menu along with an amazing taste on all the three days.
Some of the key highlights from Day 1:
Shreya Krishnan(@shreyakrishnan_) was our host for all three days and she did an excellent job at running the show. Followed by the welcome speech, we had lighting the lamp ceremony by some of our women leaders, everything put together the stage was lit and it did give you a feeling of a celebration.
The theme for this year’s conference was #WeWill and to everyone’s surprise there was an anthem too by a young girl. Everyone in the hall sang along and enjoyed.
My key takeaways from Day 1 series:
- Anita B.org’s goal is to achieve 50-50 tech equity by 2025. Brenda Darden Wilkerson(@BrendaDardenW), President and CEO of Anita B.org mentioned that we need to be 50% at all the levels including entry level and leadership. In general, the expectations from women outside work are way too much, considering the responsibilities of taking care of the child, household, family,etc. which makes it even more important for us to get there.
- Padmasree Warrior(@padmasree) covered technical insights in her keynote speech, some of which were:
- Mega businesses of the next decade will be built around Data, AI/ML and Blockchain.
- Data is at the front and center, see the amount of personalisation Netflix and Amazon offer you, not to forget the personalised ads by Google and Facebook.
- Talking about Health, Finance, Manufacturing industries they are not the same names any more; we call them Health Tech, Fin Tech, we have technology attached to each of the industries. Technology is the future.
- Use your personal energy to inspire and excite people about new ideas.
- Women always find reasons to feel guilty, DO NOT feel guilty of anything that you do.
- Debjani Ghosh’s(@debjani_ghosh_) talk was very inspiring and here are a few takeaways for every woman from her talk:
- Ask yourself the right questions. Don’t ask ‘Can you do it?’ rather ask ‘Do you want to do it?’ and just go for it.
- Being ambitious is not just good, but it’s VERY good. It gives you a purpose in life.
- It’s OK to not fit in. If someone sticks out, people always look upto that person. So, it’s your choice if you want to duck for cover or make your voice herad.
- Guilt is not your friend. When men don’t feel guilty about going out for work then why do women? Don’t be guilty of what you do.
- Whatever be your choices, own it and be heard.
- A lot of people want to seek mentorship, but before you seek mentorship ask yourself what problem you want to solve.
- Life is short, you should look back and feel I did what I wanted to do and have no regrets.
Day 2 and Day 3:
Day 2 and 3 had the regular format of a conference where talks from different topics such as Agile and DevOps, Artificial Intelligence, Cloud, Security, Design and Product Evolution, Internet of Things, etc. were scheduled. There was a Career fair in one of the halls where a lot of companies had their booths, Red Hat also had one. It was a pleasure to be at the booth and engage everyone who was coming over. We had around 6 lightening talks scheduled over two days at the booth where I spoke about how ‘Red Hat supports Women in Open Source‘. At the end of each talk we had a short quiz and the first person to answer all the questions correctly had a chance to win a Red Hat goodie bag. It was great to see the overwhelming response from the attendees at the booth and how they were interested in knowing more about Open Source and Red Hat. For the activities part, we had a Spin the wheel which would ask the candidates to do some activities further including hula hoop and selfie with Red Hat.
There was a Poster Session where everyone had there posters put up in open area. It’s great way to share one’s research, ideas and results with the conference attendees. There were a few interesting ones including a research paper on creating a smart pill for gastric cancer where the pill knows the target area precisely and will not hit any other cells until it finds the right cells to attack. There was another paper on ‘Infuse Technology into Pradhan Mantri Ujjawala Yojana to Circumvent Embezzlement’ which focused on making sure that the subsidised cylinders reached the right people who are below poverty line with the use of Blockchain technology. It was just a proposal and the presenters did not have any idea about implementing it. But, if you are reading this blog and you think you can take this to the next level then I think it should be worked upon with the Government of India.
#WeWill formation for the Drone shoot:
There was a Drone shoot where all the girls stood in WE WILL pattern, it was a fun session.
We did take out time to give our contribution to the wall.
A networking circle is an informal gathering of professionals working in the same domain where they talk about the latest trends and technologies and I had a chance to be at Quality Assurance networking circles. It was great to meet so many like minded women and have a few generic QE discussions around, Quality Engineers vs. Developers, Titles and Roles, Test Automation and tools/technology.
I also attended AnitaBorg’s Delhi-NCR chapter so that I can connect with the like minded people even after the conference and it was great to know that the chapter has been running successfully for a few years now.
There were a couple of sponsored networking lunches too where you could go only if you had an invite. You have a chance to listen to the company leadership while you eat at the same time, I had a chance to be at two of them: Qualcomm Networking lunch and JP Morgan & Chase networking lunch.
Closing ceremony and keynote was as grand as the Opening, I honestly feel bad for those who left early and missed it. The closing keynote was by Beena Ammanath (@beena_ammanath), Managing Director at Deloitte.
A few noted points from her keynote:
- Believe in yourself, you can do whatever you want to.
- One big advice she wanted to give to all the young women was ‘Marry the right person.’ She said that can help you a lot.
- It takes extra energy to build your network and every action you take does have an impact.
- Have the courage to listen to your intuition.
- Speaking up can help.
- Equality starts inside the house. If the kids see that Mom and Dad are equal in household, then probably the boys today will grow up to be better men in the future. (So, let’s start with equal household chores today as we move towards tech equity.)
- You can have it all but not at the same time.
- Before the industrial revolution, man hunted and women cooked but this is the fourth industrial revolution and things are not the same anymore.
- Self develop, go out and network!
After the keynotes, there was a musical evening with Aatma band and Soundarya Jayachandran(@Soundarya_J). The performance was no less than an concert, it was a lot of fun to be a part of that.
Some more pictures:
I hope you enjoyed reading my blog, if you have some good takeaways please do let me know by adding a comment below. Else, if you reached here by just scrolling through the pictures then do take out a minute to scroll up and read a few points in the keynote section, you never know something might strike you. 😉
If you are interested in reading about my experience at GHC 2015 in Houston, please find the blog here -> https://anishanarang.com/blog/ghc-2015/
Tada! See you until next time!