October 2017 Event 19 at Microsoft

It seems hard to believe, but this initiative is now over 9 years old – and we are up to our 19th Connecting Women in Technology event.  This time, it was Microsoft’s turn to host the gathering at its offices at Thames Valley Park near Reading.

The room was filled with over 160 attendees from the core project team companies: Avaya, Cisco, Dell, Google, IBM, Intel, HP, and Microsoft. Our topic for the day is: ‘Put your best career foot forward – the time is now to invest in your career.

Derrick McCourt (GM, Microsoft) kicked off the day welcoming everyone to the event and introducing the breakout speakers.  He then handed over to the keynote speaker, Sheila Flavell, COO of FDM group, and winner of a Lifetime Achievement award for her work on Diversity and Inclusion.

Attendees then moved to breakout sessions which are:

  • LinkedIn – Lewi Watkins (Rackspace)
  • Why Girls don’t do STEM – Prof M Bauer (LSE), Guistina Mizzoni (CoderDojo)
  • LifeCycle of Careers – Jennifer Holmes (FDM), Anna Johnstone (WomenReturners)

There were some great thought provoking and engaging breakout sessions went into detail about the potential market in the UK of women who want to return to the workforce. They talked about the industries that are already heavily engaged in running a variety of returner programs. Technology companies were in the minority for providing these programs, and gave some real life examples and insight from employees on this journey. 
We all returned to the main room and were joined by Clare Riley from Microsoft’s Education team to continue the conversation and call participants to action.

22 Interns and apprentices helped with the logistics on the day and their efforts were greatly appreciated.  As a group we were made aware that, we can all do more to support girls to consider a career in STEM, we can explore new talent pipelines and support women and men after career breaks. 

The overriding message is that we can all make sure that we are working on our own brand and are continuously learning so that we stay current in this fast changing digital world. A great event – thanks to Microsoft – and our project team volunteers.