Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Building Your Own Legacy

The 2015 edition of the WISE National Conference took place last weekend at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. This year's theme was "Build Your Own Legacy". Many speakers shared their insights about this topic. In this post, I will share one of the fireside chats given by Caroline Charter about how to build your legacy.

Let's first start with Caroline's brief bio. Caroline is currently a Microsoft's Operations General Manager. Prior to Microsoft, she was VP within Worldwide Alliance & Channels Operations at Oracle Corporation. She was one of the 2013 Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women in the Corporate Executive Category. Caroline was also a 2014 Colleges Ontario Premier's Award Nominee.

Caroline started by sharing her own story and lessons learned from her experiences. Her very first job was as a McDonald's Fry Girl, and she quickly made her way up the ladder and got a position in management. After graduation, she moved to Ireland and got a position at Gateway. Unfortunately, the company ended up cutting jobs, and the announcement was made the day of the September 11 attacks. These events put her life in perspective. It was also a life lesson: no matter what day you are having, it could be worse! She also learned that no matter what you have done, you will have to earn your stripes over again. Caroline got another position but the working conditions were quite hard. She decided to find another job that would allow her to transfer back home. Oracle hired her. Caroline ultimately got transferred to Canada. Her career really took off when she decided to exploit a niche that hasn't been looked at. Colleagues told her that it was a dead-end, and nothing would come of it. But, Caroline trusted her gut and made it happen: She led the integration of Sun Microsystems into existing Oracle's existing business in 2011, by designing and launching a partner store that supports $3 billion in annual revenue (You can read more details here). Caroline was offered a position at Microsoft last year.

After sharing her story, Caroline addressed four topics for building one's legacy: what is legacy and why does it matter, filing emotions and managing voices, where to start (action vs impact), and finally calling time out.

From the Leadership Freak blog
  • What is legacy & why does it matter?
Your legacy becomes your brand and reputation. And, they are known to people before they meet you [You know how it has become standard to google someone before meeting in person. Well, employers do that.]. It becomes part of your internal identity. You should also be aware that there is a difference between what you think you are and the way you are perceived. The great takeaway from this part was that actions should back up/project what you aspire to be. Everything you do, whether on social media or elsewhere, is going to be there. So, why don't you make sure it serves your future?
  • Filing your emotions and Managing the voices
This point is quite essential. We have all been caught in a swirl of emotions, or met someone who was. It's definitely not pretty when emotions take us over and negatively affect the work we are doing. The advice was to check your baggage before going to work. Make sure you do some prework and identify which emotions are appropriate for each situation. Don't let everybody have a bad day at work just because you are having a bad one. At the same time, be aware that it's not always about you. It's not personal. You will probably meet people who will yell at you not because you are terrible, but just because  they feel like yelling. You have to be confident in who you are and what you know. Always come with data, and facts. Finally, humanize everyone. Your colleagues/managers are human beings too. Treat them like yourself or friends.

When it comes to managing stressful situations, you get what you put in. So,
  1. Approach with an embrace vs a defense: Don't assume it's personal until someone tells you it's a problem.
  2. Inspire those around you: Act assertively, calculatively and logically without taking it out on others.
  3. Lead by example: Be genuine, be human, be invested.
  4. What's the worst that can happen? Ask yourself: Am I projecting my paradigms onto this situation? If your biggest fear is to forget your speech when you are on stage, and it happens. The audience will not kick you out. So, breathe!
Now, about managing the voices [The voices in our head. It sounds a little bit creepy but it refers to whatever you hear/feel when you take decisions for example]: You have to identify who they are, why they are there, and what triggers them. You need to deal especially with the negative ones. Are they qualified to take up time in your head? If no, prove them wrong. If yes, who says they are qualified and why? Deal with both, and again prove them wrong.
  • Where to start (Action vs Impact)
Today is DAY 1! Always remember that. Plus, examine your activities, and determine if there is real impact or if you are just "busy". If you are doing 20 projects at the same time and only 4 have an impact, go for the 4. You will feel better. 

  • Calling Time Out
Calling time out might be particularly helpful to:
  1. Distance yourself from a bad/difficult situation
  2. Review a situation and circumstances objectively and logically
  3. Determine what you should be
  4. Identify key barriers and hurdles
  5. Make your plan

Reflect on the previous topics and create your own future. Determine what you should be. If you had a blank piece of paper, what would you be? How do you want to feel? Today is DAY 1.

Stay great! 

Daniella is a Master's student in Electrical and Computer Engineering. One of her dreams is to inspire more women to embrace STEM careers and unleash their full potential. Although she is hardworking and can be very serious, she enjoys comedy and dancing, has a big sense of humour, and believes that a little kindness goes a long way!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Lunch and Lecture with Dr. Angelica Lim

I don’t know much about robotics. I thought it was still a very futuristic thought, only to be seen in science fiction. I recently attended the lecture Lunch and Learn with Dr. Angelica Lim. Dr. Lim is a fascinating woman, who greatly represents women in science and technology. Dr. Lim discussed the robotics field, and what is being done to progress into the future. Dr. Lim showed us the robots that are currently being sold to the public in Japan, Pepper the robot. Pepper is a companion robot, who socializes with people who may have trouble interacting with others. I didn't realize how sophisticated the robots we have are, I imagined a very skeletal form, so this was eye opening for me.

 Picture of Pepper the robot, taken from Aldebaran
 The topic Dr. Lim talked mostly about was how her team was trying to teach robots emotional intelligence. They want to create robots that can be expressive, so being “robotic” doesn't mean “lack emotion”. One way they are accomplishing this is by using similar techniques that mothers use to teach their babies. The other topic that was discussed was how Dr. Lim ended up in this field. She never thought of herself going into robotics initially. Then she did a Co-op term in Nice designing water robots. She also participated in exchange research project in Japan. For more information about the exchange in Japan, Click Here. This lecture was really informative for me. I found out that we are farther along in robotics than I initially thought. Dr. Lim has also taught me that you never know where you will end up in your career.

Bronwyn is a second year Software Engineering student. When she isn't studying, she is either reading books or playing video games. She loves Star Wars.