Blog Spot July19

2019 IEEE Women In Computing Summit held at Oracle Santa Clara Campus was organized by IEEE Women In Engineering Santa Clara Valley Chapter, Oracle Women’s Leadership and co-sponsored by IEEE Computer Society, IEEE SCV Young Professionals. Oracle was the major corporate sponsor. The summit hosted more than 15 distinguished speakers from Silicon Valley Tech Companies including Oracle, Intel, Qualcomm, Ericcsson, IBM, Cisco, Stanford, many more and was attended by approximately 150 professional women and men from Bay Area. 

Keynote by Mary Ellen Kassotakis, Executive Director, Oracle’s Women Leadership was on Transitioning to Leadership: Mastering the Foundations was a comprehensive leadership quick-starter. Mary Ellen describes Leadership Foundations as Leadership Brand, Emotional Intelligence, Team formation, and Success behaviors. Key learning from the keynote is that leadership is about your ability to influence others and develop other leaders. Here are the highlights of this talk, 

  • Your brand is what you do and not what you say it is. It encompasses your natural strengths and values and it fuels your success. It defines how you behave in difficult situations and defines your unique leadership strategy. Your brand is what others say it is based on their interactions with you. 
  • Build your emotional intelligence, build your team’s foundation, take feedback from your networks and know your strengths and what you bring to the table. 
  • Behaviors of women who excel are clear and shared career plan, advocate on own behalf, influence upwards, delegate work, belief of no barriers to their advancement. 
  • Common obstacles to career success are waiting to be picked, ambition and ambivalence, executive presence, feedback failure, perceptions and misconceptions.


The keynote was followed by two talks on Data Security; Data Stewardship and Digital Twins, Katalin Barfai-Walcott Sr. Principal Engineer at Intel and Building the trusted foundation for our data-centric world, Isaura Gaeta, Vice President Security Research at Intel. Both speakers from Intel highlighted the importance of security in this era of social media and big data. Isaura’s talk started with a recap of several security breaches in the past few years at major corporations including Spectre and Meltdown. She cautioned that the nature of security threats will continue to evolve and attacks on hardware is increasing. Isuara described Intel’s strategy of security first which includes architectural leadership, IP/SOC traceability, product recovery and resilience, security research including bug bounty program and “Red Team” events and accelerated issue closure among several other measures. Katalin’s presentation introduced the concept of digital twin which is a digital representation of a physical entity, person or organization. She emphasized on the need to create an entity that manages and controls your data on your behalf including permissions and rights of use and distribution.


Afternoon sessions included two panels, the first one of which was the Career Panel: Leading in the digital age. Career panel was moderated by Lorri Brady Jackson, Senior Manager , Oracle Global Talent Advisory. The panelists included Liliane Peters, Director R&D Operations at Ericsson; Win Chang, Cloud Customer Experience Director at Oracle; Alka Jarvis, Sr. Director/Distinguished Engineer at Cisco; Anna Luo, VP Customer Innovation & Marketing at Jivox. The panelists discussed the skills required in this age of digital disruption. Expect changes throughout your career and equip yourself to learn with changing times. Alka Jarvis described how, despite being industry leader in Software Quality, she collaborated multiple times with industry leaders in other domains to write books as a means to increase her knowledge of these new domains. Anna Luo motivated the audience by saying treat your work like a hobby that you enjoy & bring that passion to work. Being authentic, bold, having the ability to scale yourself and the ability to solve problems are the key to success.


IEEE Santa Clara Valley Young Professionals sponsored the Entrepreneurship Panel: Launching your Tech Startup and Challenges in Making it a Success was a great way to close the event. The panel was moderated by Selvam Raju, Advanced Lead Engineer at Knightscope and members included Jocelyn Tan, CEO and Co-Founder at SISU; Yaping Cheng, Innovation Manager at GE Appliances; Dhivya Sashidhar, CEO and Founder at WattsKitchen. Young entrepreneurs on the panel discussed what it takes to launch and sustain a tech startup. Novel idea is important, but along with it, choosing the right team, setting boundaries, managing time are equally important Jocelyn talked about setting time calendar appointments on her schedule to allocate time for required tasks. Dhivya shared how setting company by-laws/policies in a new company are important and how getting these right in her first venture made it possible to run it in autopilot mode. Both Jocelyn & Dhivya emphasized on choosing the right team and managing time well are key to success. Yaping, being an investor at GE, had a unique perspective. She shared that along with the product idea, business plan and the team dynamics are critical to an investor. All panelists concurred that gender and age bias exists, they do get discriminated for being young and female. The panelists that demonstrating your understanding of the topic at hand by discussing facts and strategy does alleviate the bias and lets the other person see you for your thought process rather than preconceived opinions.

Other notable talks include a talk on cancer research by Hasini Jayatilaka, Cancer Researcher at Stanford University. Hasini shared her experience in combining computational techniques with molecular biology to identify and classify genetic mutations causing pediatric cancer. She emphasized on the importance of learning programming in all scientific fields including biology and medicine to make sense of available data. Mary Gendron, Senior Vice President  and CIO at Qualcomm described how 5G is the foundation for next-gen technology. She described how computing on edge devices such as driverless cars is important to reduce latency and prevent accidents. Kayla Lee, Quantum Consultant at IBM described the anatomy of a quantum algorithm. Qubits are the unit of quantum information. Quantum computers leverage the principles of superposition and entanglement to create states that scale exponentially with the number of qubits. A quantum algorithm creates an equal superposition of all 2n states, encodes the problem onto the system by applying all 2n of the states and infers all of these states back to a few outcomes containing the solution. 

2019 International Women's Day at the Computer History Museum

This was a learning experience and we got nothing but positive feedback from the audience. Thanks Oracle for hosting this event. Thanks to the Oracle Women’s Leadership and SCV WIE team for their efforts in planning and organizing this event. Thanks to IEEE SCV YP and IEEE Computer Society for their support in organizing the event.