In September, Asana was thrilled to be a Gold Sponsor at the Grace Hopper Celebration (GHC), a conference hosting a massive community of women technologists from different locations and backgrounds. The days were spent listening to panels, speakers, networking, and connecting with other women who also shared excitement over a technology-infused life.
At Asana, we value a diverse and inclusive environment. It’s a key part of our culture and it’s reflected in the powerful and incredibly dynamic group of women that make up our company. This includes our employee resource group, AsanaWomen, a community of women who get together on a frequent basis for discussions and events to empower one another. The group’s mission is to showcase the work and passions of women in the tech industry by providing a platform to celebrate their talents and spotlight role models.
We got to chat with a few members of AsanaWomen who attended GHC this year. They shared the inside scoop from their experiences, what they loved the most, and some tips for attending conferences and events in the future. Here’s what they had to say.
How would you describe the energy and vibe at the conference?
Bella Kazwell, web engineering lead: It seemed like there was a lot of excitement about there being so many women in tech, and so many well accomplished women who lead.
Megan Daly, software engineer: The energy was very positive. It was great to see so many women excited about technology. I think this conference is super supportive for female students considering technology, because it can reassure them that they won’t be the only ones.
Hannah Christensen, infrastructure engineer: A lot of people were really excited to be there, and to have the opportunity to learn about a wide variety of topics. For example, a current student mentioned that a big takeaway for her was learning about the huge variety in different types of jobs in technology. Despite studying computer science at school, she felt that she knew very little about what different types of jobs she might be able to pursue related to her degree.
Rachel Miller, engineering manager: I’d never been to GHC before, and it was difficult to imagine the scope ahead of time. Everybody was there! Even the airports on the way to Houston were full of women in tech.
What was the most impactful talk that you attended?
Bella: How to build an authentic personal brand. It explained what a brand is: the thing that people say about you when you are not in the room. And why it matters: important decisions get made when you are not in the room (promotions, compensation changes and hiring). I also found the stories to be insightful and relatable.
Megan: “Hidden Dependencies: Alice Built an App and Unwittingly Became Eve” by Gelareh Taban from IBM. This was a really cool talk about how package dependencies can introduce security holes. It’s great to see a technical talk focused on something more infrastructure-y given by a woman! I don’t see enough of these, especially with this level of depth.
Hannah: Definitely Jessica Matthews speaking during the opening keynote. Not only was she an incredibly engaging speaker, but her story and advice was inspiring, her company is doing amazing work, and the diversity at her company was at a level I think most tech companies would claim is unachievable.
Rachel: Watching the Anita Hill talk via live stream was really amazing. We set up the talk at the Asana booth and borrowed some speakers, and many career fair attendees stopped by and listened with us.
What would be your advice to other conference attendees for future events?
Bella: Focus on the target audience for the talks, and make sure you are going to the ones that apply to you. Sign up for lots of talks in advance, and then based on how timing works out, you might skip some.
Megan: I would also say to plan out which talks you want to go to, show up early, and be willing to stick around for a couple minutes after. The time before and after the talks is great for networking, and meeting other attendees. You don’t have to go to everything to have a valuable experience! I would also recommend roundtables and workshops, because I think you can learn a lot from your fellow attendees.
Hannah: Be strategic when picking out what talks you really want to go to—and plan around that. I think I would’ve done better by picking fewer talks to attend, and making sure that I would have the opportunity to really engage with them. It’s better to pick the one(s) that you want to attend the most, rather than try to go to all of them, and not giving yourself the chance to focus on what’s in front of you.
Rachel: There were so many talented people there. I’d love to have more long 1:1 conversations in future years – I loved the career fair but all of those felt so fast!
It was so powerful to see such a large community of women come together at Grace Hopper this year. By participating in events like these, our goal is to aid career development and support women to become industry leaders here at Asana, and beyond.
Interested in being a part of the amazing force we call AsanaWomen? We’re hiring in San Francisco, New York, and Dublin!