Preparing to Celebrate Women in Tech at GHC ’17

September 26, 2017

I’ve been in the technology industry for 17 years and consider my attendance at the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing as one of the most powerful experiences of my career—and one of the most fulfilling. I’m looking forward to experiencing the celebration again this year with an amazing group of engineers from LinkedIn.

It’s also a moment to reflect on the impact this event can have. Last year, while spending time in the LinkedIn booth at the GHC career fair, I met a remarkable woman named Abby Garcia. Abby majored in Latino Studies at NYU and had tried a few fields after graduation, including law and marketing, but said she’d not quite found her fit. Through her previous jobs, she became intrigued by software engineers after seeing the things they were building on a day-to-day basis. Additionally, she was attending many women in tech events, as she wanted to develop the skills to build tools and technologies that would have a positive impact on the world.

Abby taught herself to code from books and online classes, and soon she started taking on freelance jobs building websites and applications for clients. The more experience she gained, the more certain she was that this was the right path for her, so she began reaching out to companies and applying to open positions.

There was just one problem: very few companies were willing to even give her an interview for a full-time coding job. On paper, she looked different from other candidates—her degree wasn’t in computer science, and she didn’t have internships or work experience at a major technology company. She was at a disadvantage from the start, in spite of her potential, her passion for programming, and her determination to succeed.

I told her I’d work to help her—either by pointing her resume to the right people at LinkedIn, or by connecting her with opportunities across my network. We kept the conversation going, and she started at LinkedIn just a couple of weeks ago!

Stories like Abby’s are why I love this conference. It’s an opportunity for me to meet amazing individuals like her, learn about the barriers women in technology face, and become a small part of how we can tear down these barriers.

Tips for GHC 2017 attendees

As you can imagine, GHC is a huge event with thousands of attendees, so it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the options of things to do. As a past attendee, I wanted to share a few tips to help make sure you make the most out of this unique experience.

Tip 1: Pick your sessions early. Before heading to the event, spend some time on the GHC website carefully looking through the sessions. Below is a list of the amazing LinkedIn engineers who will be speaking at this year’s event on topics ranging from technical insights to career advice. As much as you can, plan your time so you’re hitting all the presentations and talks that will be most interesting and useful to you.

Tip 2: Meet as many attendees as possible. As mentioned above, GHC is an event with thousands of attendees, so it’s very easy to just stick with the colleagues you came to the conference with. However, I would highly encourage you to branch out and meet as many new faces as possible. Similar to my experience at last year’s event, I think you’ll be blown away by the interesting women you’ll meet.

Tip 3: Decide what you want people to remember about you. Considering the endless networking possibilities of this event, before you leave for Orlando, make sure you spend some time thinking about your 15- to 30-second elevator pitch when meeting someone new. What do you want people to know and remember about you? Is there anything you can incorporate that could be a good conversation starter or lead to additional touchpoints after the event? These are all things to think about as you practice your pitch.

Sessions lead by or including LinkedIn speakers

As mentioned above, below are the panels and sessions featuring LinkedIn engineers—consider it a one-stop shop for all LinkedIn speaking sessions at GHC 2017. I hope to see you there soon!

Title: Building a Career as an Introverted Woman
Speaker: Shobhna Upadhyaya
Date: October 4
Time: 11:30 am - 11:50 am
Description: "Introversion" and "Gender" are two common types of biases at work. We'll discuss how these can impact our decision-making and the way we operate. These biases combined can create additional challenges. We'll discuss how women who are introverted can work towards overcoming the bias and perceptions associated with it.

Title: Creating Daily Habit Through Mobile
Speaker: Sneha Keshwani
Date: October 4
Time: 11:50 am - 12:10 pm
Description: At LinkedIn, we have created a mobile app experience that has helped make our product a daily use case for millions of members. Members with the mobile app are far more engaged than similar cohorts without the app. Learn more about the framework and tactics we’’ve developed at LinkedIn to drive mobile app adoption and engagement.

Title: Cracking the China Market
Speaker: Kristine Song
Date: October 4
Time: 12:10 pm - 12:30 pm
Description: Over the years, many U.S. tech giants have tried their hand at entering China, the largest internet market (with over 700M users), but there have still been no major winners. LinkedIn is the only American social network company in China and has been exponentially growing since 2014. In this presentation, I will highlight the successes and challenges in growing, engaging, and monetizing LinkedIn in China.

Title: Sleek and Fast: Weight Control for Fat Web Client
Speaker: Sarah Clatterbuck
Date: October 4
Time: 2:10 pm - 2:30 pm
Description: Web development trends move rendering into the browser in the form of Single Page Apps (SPAs) to be more like native mobile apps. We slimmed down and doubled the speed of our new flagship SPA by determining what to measure, which changes would have the biggest impact, practicing changes consistently, and putting tools in place to instill good habits in the engineering and product teams.

Title: Improve Engagement Through Push Notification Optimization
Speaker: Jinyun Yan
Date: October 4
Time: 3:00 pm - 3:20 pm
Description: In recent years, push notifications have increasingly been used in mobile apps to proactively grab the attention of users. This must be done with careful consideration, since notifications that are intrusive and over-notifying users can result in a negative user experience. We will discuss how we optimize push notifications and explain our system architecture to support the optimization of notifications.

Title: There’’s an App [Review] for That
Speaker: Erica Willar
Date: October 5
Time: 11:30 am - 11:50 am
Description: Ok, you built a mobile app. Now what? This presentation will discuss how to leverage 1-star app ratings for the identification of bugs and app reviews for product improvements. The presentation will comprise three components: 1) Leveraging App Ratings for Identification of Bugs; 2) Leveraging App Reviews for Product Improvements; and 3) Leveraging the NPS Difference between Google Play and iTunes.

Title: Learning to Be Relevant: Course Recommender Systems for Online Education
Speaker: Shivani Rao
Date: October 5
Time: 1:50 pm - 2:10 pm
Description: Online learning platforms have grown tremendously in recent years, having an impact from K-12 to lifelong learning. Come learn about recommender systems theory as applied in practice to the domain of online education. This talk will present the algorithms behind course recommendations with insights drawn from large scale A/B testing experiments.

Title: Building Sticky Products Through User Confidence
Speaker: Charu Jangid
Date: October 5
Time: 2:10 pm - 2:30 pm
Description: Confidence is critical to many actions we take on a daily basis in the offline world. It's not any different for internet products. A product that successfully builds confidence can transform someone who feels unconfident in the offline world into feeling very confident about their ability to succeed online. This talk will focus on how products like Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat, and LinkedIn successfully engage users by building user confidence.

Title: Middle Management Quagmire: Skills Women Need to Advance Career
Speaker: Shalini V. Agarwal
Date: October 5
Time: 3:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Description: Women are still a minority in the high ranks of the tech industry. They have to overcome bias and shatter ceilings, both perceived and otherwise, in order to make it beyond middle management. How do women successfully create an impact and innovate in their field of choice? This panel discusses which core skills are most crucial for women who choose to grow beyond middle management in their career.

Title: Building a Career in Product Management
Speaker: Charu Jangid
Date: October 6
Time: 9:00 am - 12:00 pm
Description: What does a Product Manager do? What does her day look like? Is this career path for you? This hands-on session will answer the above questions through a presentation from two Product Managers at companies of different sizes (LinkedIn and Affirm), and will give students a taste of the job function through an activity. The session will end with practical tips on how to get hired as a Product Manager.

Title: Recommending Dream Jobs in a Biased Real World
Speaker: Nadia Fawaz
Date: October 6
Time: 9:20 am - 9:40 am
Description: Machine learning models learn what we teach them to learn. Recommendation systems trained on biased data may reflect the bias. Reducing biases, from societal bias (such as the professional gender gap), to bias introduced by data collection or modeling, is crucial to successfully recommending dream jobs to hundreds of millions of members worldwide while being true to LinkedIn’s vision: to create economic opportunity for every member of the global workforce.

Title: SQR: Balancing Speed, Quality, and Risk in Online Experiments
Speaker: Ya Xu
Date: October 6
Time: 12:00 pm - 12:20 pm
Description: Controlled experimentation is widely adopted to accelerate innovations. However, how fast we innovate is limited by how we run experiments. Most experiments go through a “ramp up” process where we gradually increase traffic to the new treatment. We often see huge inefficiencies in that process. In this presentation, we build up a ramping framework that effectively balances Speed, Quality, and Risk (SQR).

Title: You Do You, Boo: Discovering Your True Self
Speaker: Rae Hoyt
Date: October 6
Time: 12:20 pm - 12:40 pm
Description: Being someone else is exhausting. Why not just be yourself? In this presentation, Rae Hoyt discusses five strategies for bringing your true self to work, hobbies, and social interactions. Explore how emotional intelligence (EQ) can help you foster genuine relationships with peers. Learn various strategies to share your genuine personality, and confidently navigate modern life.