Ever since I returned home from Grace Hopper Celebration, India I was hoping to write this blog post. But due to my extremely busy schedule I couldn’t find time. Although it has been almost a month, GHCI excitement is still not out of my system. It was one of the most awesome periods in my life.
Since I am from Sri Lanka, going to Banglore is another type of an adventure which I am not going to focus on here. (May be in another blog post) The Grace Hopper Celebration was held at The Lalit Ashok, Banglore. Scholars were given accommodation in nearby hotels. Since I arrived on 19th my hotel was 37th Crescent Hotel. It was really nice and the staff was very much helpful and the food was great!
After an adventurous day and a good night sleep, on 20th morning we were so excited about what will happen in the conference. We knew it would be a whole different kind of experience. But never hoped that it will have this much of impact on our lives. When we enter Lalit Ashok Hotel on 20th morning, we already saw the difference. The vibrant colours made the atmosphere energetic.
After registering and collecting the souvenir gift pack (two bags full of goodies :D) we went to Kalinga Hall where the welcome presentation and keynote speech to be held. The conference started off with a grand way with a very inspirational and motivational keynote speech by Jayshree Ullal, the president and CEO of Arista Networks.
Next was the panel discussions. They were categorized in to different themes and we only were able to attend one at a time because the sessions were parallel. My first choice among the first set of sessions was “Tapping in to my inner Prada”. I was interested in this session as soon as I saw the name for the first time. It was the most interesting and awesome session I attended throughout the conference.
The aim of the panel discussion “Tapping in to my inner Prada” is to discuss how our appearance impact on our career growth. I have to say that the panelists were amazing. They covered the every aspect of the problem themselves. As a women we all have the problem that our working environments are so casual such that if we stepped out of the denim and t shirt dress code and wear something different and elegant, we are bound to look odd. In the session they talked about how we want us to be seen and how to achieve that. The panel discussed about how the way we dress and our clothing affects and how we can choose the way we dress to display authority. It also focused on grooming, communication and body language.
Another important session in the first day was the keynote speech by Jane Moran, CIO of Unilever. One important thing I learned from her speech was that if we want something in our career we’ve got to ask it. We have to speak for ourselves and if we think we are qualified, we should go and ask for it. With the Asian culture women are little bit of reluctant to this kind of behavior.
The evening followed with a career fair with all the important companies like Google, Facebook, etc. The networking and entertainment dinner at the poolside was also awesome.
The most interesting session in the second day was the keynote by Laxmi Partury. She talked about how she solved the problems she faced. Specially as Asian women we have to face lot of problems regarding our careers and relationships. By our culture we are bound to our families and tend to give priority to family rather than the career.
Two other sessions that I loved were “Discover and build your strength” and “The career guidance never given”. They talked about how we choose the career according to our strengths and how to progress in it.
The most important thing happened in the conference is it changed my mind about career women. During the two days I got the chance to speak and see a lot of women who has gone up to the top of their career ladders while balancing and caring for their families as well. I always thought that balancing family and career has a limit. At a certain point as a mother, as a wife and as a daughter you will have to give priority to your family and you will eventually be stuck at some point in your career. But GHC taught me it is still possible to balance the career with family life and that is entirely up to the individual. “If there is a will, there is a way :D”.
Thank you Anita Borg India for the wonderful opportunity to attend GHC India. It was a well organized great event. I think every girl in computer science should attend GHC even for a once in their lifetime.