What does Microsoft Advertising and the Seattle Girl Geek Dinner community have in common?

Last Wednesday, Microsoft Advertising sponsored the 13th Seattle Girl Geek Dinner. For those of you that haven’t heard of the Girl Geek Dinner community, it was started by a woman in London, who had a vision for geeky women across the globe to have informal community that facilitated learning, networking, and fun. Liz Morgan, a Talent Strategist for the Online Services Division started the Seattle community back in 2008. This is Microsoft’s 5th time sponsoring a dinner. Microsoft Advertising knocked it out of the park by finding a hip, festive venue in downtown Seattle, and provided a speaking panel that was honest, engaging and fun!

We started the evening off by playing personal bingo. Upon arrival, everyone received a sheet of paper with a bingo grid. Each box had a statement printed inside of it, saying things like “been to 4 Hawaiian islands” or “coded a SQL database.” Each geek girl was tasked with asking other attendees if they have done any of the statements. If yes, the box was signed off on by that person. The 1st geek girl that had found signatures for each box won a $50 gift card to the Microsoft Retail Store. It was great to see everyone networking and enjoying the quest for 1st place.

Next, the speaking panel took the floor. Maria Alvarez, Chief of Staff for Microsoft Advertising, and our sponsor (thank you Maria!) stood in the crowd to support her team. Holly Knight, Principal Program Manager, and Kirti Khanna, Principal Program Manager lead for Microsoft Advertising were the speakers for the evening. Holly, who came from Apple, found her home at Microsoft in 1997. Kirti has been with Microsoft since 2000 as a contract developer and went full time in 2005. Prior to working for Microsoft, Kirti was with the Walt Disney Internet Group. Both women started off by discussing their background and some of the challenges of growing your career as a woman. The advice they gave was phenomenal. Establishing priorities, good mentors, and finding work that constantly challenged you were some of the suggestions they provided. There was also conversation about the resources Microsoft provides to their female employees. Some of the things that were mentioned by Holly and Kirti were Microsoft’s robust mentorship program, a great training and development program, and the annual Women’s Conference, offered to all women at Microsoft. The conference was described as a 3 day program, which provided a panel of inspiring speakers, developmental opportunities, and the chance to network with other women.

Towards the end of Holly and Kiriti’s Q and A session, there was some interesting dialogue about women in engineering, and what the culture at Microsoft Advertising was like. Kirti commented that “a standard misconception that people have about Microsoft is that we are a bunch of aggressive, type-A personalities who will not blink an eye to put you down. People also think Microsoft is slow and lacking innovation.” However, the culture at Microsoft Advertising is very much the opposite. As Kirti went on to say, “I think our culture provides a fast but collaborative environment. People are generally aligned in making a difference in the marketplace. Once we have a clear charter and goal, everyone feels mobilized to work towards that collectively.”

Maria, Holly and Kirti each had a line of women who wanted to talk to them after the speaking session was finished. When talking to Holly about why sponsoring women’s events are important, she replied “Microsoft wants to present a good accurate face to the local community for who really works there.  Local women can help encourage women to consider MS as a place to do great work, with really special people!”  

Overall, the event was a success. It was a great way to celebrate the Girl Geek Community and success stories of women who have careers in the technology field. A big thank you to Microsoft Advertising for sponsoring. If you are  interested in working with these amazing women, please visit: http://bit.ly/microsoftjobsadvertising 

Not a member of the  Seattle Girl Geek community?  Please join us! You find can us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/#!/groups/14877769863/

So, back to our initial question: What does Microsoft Advertising and the Seattle Girl Geek Dinner community have in common?

Answer: Smart women.

Happy Holidays!

Eugenia and Liz