For the last couple of months I have been involved in the SAP Israel Women’s Business Network. As part of this involvement, I reached out to women co-workers in other Companies. My colleagues at Microsoft invited me to attend their Women High-tech Networking event- “Women Think Next 2010”.
In over 10 years in the High Tech industry, I have attended many conferences, but this was the first time in which the men were the minority.
On this sunny Thursday, women were at the front of the stage. Female engineers, entrepreneurs and senior leaders From Hi-Tech companies in Israel were invited for a unique networking experience over brunch. We were given personalized business cards and were encouraged to make good use of them! I had the pleasure of meeting great women in various technological roles in companies such as Intel, Google etc.
The Key Speaker was Mrs. Dina Dublon : a member of the board of directors at Microsoft. She talked about “Growing in to leadership and management” and shared her views on the role of women within the corporate world. She noted that this was a “painfully slow progress” but that “leaving us out is no longer a choice”. She advised us to focus on vision and long term goals and encouraged us to be confident, curious and open to possibility. It is our duty to make a difference and we can do this if we were demanding of ourselves and others, own our development, learn about the business and actively solicit feedback. She indicated “perseverance with a smile” and “obsession to excel” as key traits that helped her grow in to leadership. She reminded us that change would only happen if we act and that leadership was a matter of choice not chance! It was a truly inspiring speech, and I reflected on her words numerous times throughout the next days.
Other speakers included:
Moshe Lichtman , President Microsoft R&D Center, on women in technology and in Microsoft.
Mr. Eran Yariv , Development manager at Microsoft Israel R&D Innovation Labs, on innovation.
Dr. Taly Weiss, Founder and CEO of TrendsSpotting , on “Digital Women and Trends
Dr. Yoelle Maarek, Manager of Yahoo! Research Israel , on “the role of users on the web”.
Mrs. Orit Zukerman, Interactive Video Artist, researcher in the Media Lab at MIT, closed the session with a lecture on “Interactive Art and entrepreneurship”. She shared some of her exciting work in Video Art.
All in all it was a fascinating day. I had a chance to hear inspiring stories, broaden my network and learn about the opportunities that lay ahead. But most importantly I was reinforced in the powers we as women have, I finished the day motivated to continue to grow and evolve. If I believe in me, and if I work hard, the sky is the limit. We can make a difference: Women are doing it for themselves!