European Women in Technology is the largest conference by women for women in the industry in Europe. It was two days in Amsterdam filled with talks, workshops, mentoring opportunities and networking. With 7 tracks and 6 workshops in parallel during most of the days garnished with minor pop-up events.
While there's opportunities to get introduced to new and emerging technologies, the main focus of the conference is networking, how to navigate a man dominated industry as a woman, tips and tricks to elevate your career, and finally how to bring more diversity into our teams. Around 95 % of the attendees are women, but men are also welcome to join. You can read more about the conference here.
Opening Keynote: Fireside chat on the tech landscape in Europe
By Shaloo Garg (Managing Director, UN Women, Microsoft for Start-ups), Nicole Iseppi (Managing Director, Operations and Performance, Global Industrial Hub) and Ödgärd Andersson (Volvo).
Some of the key points from the discussion was the 3D's of the next decade; decentralization, decarbonization and digitalization. In the words of Nicole Iseppi, "We need to build our companies so they are open to world and open to the new opportunities and technologies that the future will bring."
Ödgärd brought forward the exciting evolution and innovation we see in China and questions if the human needs are universal, or if we will see a split in needs and desires in the future. She feared that Europe may lack back in the future due to our lack of mobility compared to the rest of the world.
Shaloo talked a lot about some of the most evolving markets she's experienced in the last few years. Especially Africa and the Middle East are becoming innovative tech hubs, with many start-ups and a lot of talent waiting to take on the world. She also emphasised that ESG (Environmental, Social and corporate governance) is gaining focus everywhere and if companies aren't already focussing on it they will in the next few years.
The two faces of tolerance
By Evita Stoop (Chief Marketing Officer, IBM Benelux).
How do we handle a lone red tulip among a field of yellow ones? Do we try to make it yellow, do we tolerate it's presence, or do we embrace and cherish it?
Evita talked about the opposite meanings of tolerance and to tolerate. It is this paradox that highlights the difference between just creating a diverse team and truly embracing it.
Workshop: An introduction to serverless, with examples featuring Serena Williams
By Sara Gerion (Software engineer at DAZN).
Sara guided us through the process of setting up our first serverless service on AWS using CloudFormation. She had prepared the yaml files to get started and then walked up through setting up and deploy a simple Lambda function using Node.js. Sara explained some of the benefits of serveless such as if you have functions that only need to run once in a while and that it can be cost efficient in certain cases.
Workshop: Building a train type classifier from vibration data
By Ole Tommy Vorren (Machine Learning Engineer at Konnux).
Ole had prepared a neural network to identify train types via real life vibrational data. After walking us through the project we got our hands dirty tweaking the parameters in the model to get the most accurate model.
Workshop: Introduction to continuous integration / continuous delivery
By Giulia Di Rienzo (IT Architect at the European Central Bank).
Giulia Di Rienzo explained the basics of CI/CD. She had prepared a project using GitLabs build in CI tool, where we had to first make a simple change to the project working as described in the principles in GitFlow. Second we had to update the settings for our CI tool to also measure the code coverage of the mock project, which wasn't impressive 😉
Day 2 Opening Address
By Helle Thorning Schmidt (CEO of Save The Children International and former Prime Minister of Denmark).
Helle gave a strong talk on being a woman in a power. She emphasised that leadership requires courage and it requires that you are willing to step out of your comfort zone into the unknown. She shared some strong anecdotes from her time as both a politician and as CEO in a diverse company full of experts from all over the world. Her final message to us was to "become friends with our inner nervousness and harness it as a power".
The bionic company - what does the company of the future look like?
By Karalee Close (Managing Director and Partner at Boston Consulting Group).
Karalee gave an engaging talk on the future of tech and described what BCG has defined as "the bionic company". DigitalBCG believes that the companies of the future needs to be able to harness the power of technology and humanity in a unison. They need to transform their organization from a "know-it-all" to a "learn-it-all" organization. She described, how the bionic company thinks and moves data in an agile fashion, where the infrastructure is becoming more modular. The modular structure allows the company to move quickly in alignment with new techniques. Her final message was that the future will require a greater focus on emotional intelligence and creatively as the technology will take over the more tedious task for us.
The changing face of STEM: Breaking down stereotypes and exceeding expectations
By Corinne Vigreux (Co-founder of TomTom) and Dr. Anne-Marie Imafidon (Co-Founder, CEO and Head Stemmate of STEMettes).
The main points from the discussion is that we need to take a look at our existing education system, because it caters to certain stereotypes around gender and topics, which we will need to break down order to feed the future demands for highly skilled technical people with a diverse background. Dr. Anne-Marie explained how the schools in England already introduce code and computation thinking when the children are five years old, but that it is extremely important that the infrastructure are prepared for it and that the teachers get the proper education first. They also pointed out the need for another way to evaluate the children so softer skills also get evaluated and the children learn to be confident enough that they dare be creative and make mistakes.
Workshop: Five ways to boost your SCRUM
By Evelien Roos (Agile Coach at Xebia).
The workshop was a basic introduction to SCRUM. It was an active workshop where we had to discuss our experiences with SCRUM in our company.
The four key messages from the workshop were:
Find a good scrum master
Get leadership support
Remember the scrum values
Mix up the exercises in the meetings to keep people engaged
Expose cyber-attacks a step ahead with predictive intelligence and hunting
By Rini Icent Gopinath (Senior Information Security Expert at ABN AMRO).
Rini explained the lifecycle of a cyber attack and some of the things you can do to protect your network. Did you e.g. know that it takes an average of 206 days to detect a data breach?
She walked us through how she hunts for threats as part of her job as a security expert.
Blockchain for beginners: Understanding the how and why
By Sanne Visser (Blockchain Tester and Managing Consulting at Capgemini).
Sanne explained how the blockchains work garnished with funny stories of how she and her husband got into it in the first place. She walked us through how the blockchain is a series of hashes and that the big issue, especially with bitcoin, is that each link has to be verified, which makes it a very slow process. She finished of the talk by giving six points that you could consider before going into blockchain:
Do I need blockchain?
Do I trust my partners?
How will we govern it?
How will it be secured?
Can it scale up?
Is the ecosystem a problem?
Netflix Open Connect, delivering internet tv to the world
By Nina Bargisen (Director at Open Connect Partner Engagement, Netflix).
An interesting break down of Netflix's in house content distribution network, Open Connect. Nina described how Netflix handles their load balance across countries by distributing popular content on their network of conventional and flash servers. She illustrated how Netflix measures the activity on their servers to predict what people want to watch the following day and when in the day they should update the content on their servers.
European Women in Technology is a very different tech conference compared to any ones we have ever attended before. The focus are much more on the human side of the industry and it takes some time to get familiar with. But that doesn't change the fact that this conference was a very inspiring one. It was a great reminder to sit in a room with 1000's of other women from the tech industries and be reminded that we are not the only ones, and it was great to see, hear and network with so many accomplished women from our industry.
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