Hello friends of Girls in Tech Vancouver!
On Wednesday, we held the highly anticipated “Creative Side of Tech” panel discussion to bring together people interested in learning from women who are leading in their “creative” field and building meaningful connections with like-minded people. There was such a strong interest in this event from both male and female attendees that we sold out all 50 spots!
How did we come up with this event?
You asked, we heard! Your feedback means a lot to us at Girls in Tech. Based on the post-event survey results from this year’s Hacking for Humanity, there were a lot of people who would like to see more “creative” or non-technical events to develop their creative problem solving and design thinking skills. There were people who did not necessarily know how to code, but wanted to work in the tech industry and could have an interest in the following: experience design, product design, digital design, digital marketing, animation, virtual reality etc.
What happened at the event?
It was a pleasant, clear evening to welcome people into our bright and spacious venue that was kindly provided by BrainStation. People were trickling in and the venue started to fill up fairly quickly. Right when you walk in, you would notice some bar stools set up at the front for the panelists and moderator. On the side, there were some food and drinks that attendees could grab before taking their seat. Some of their favourite was the sushi and kombucha! As they made their way to the middle where the rows of seats were set up, there were some BrainStation swag waiting for them on their seat – including a useful notebook that many people ended up using to take notes during the panel discussion!
We were happy to see people chatting among themselves and expanding their network while we were preparing the panelists for the event. Thank you once again to BrainStation for providing such a nice, open space to foster the warm and inviting environment that Girls in Tech always strive for, making our members feel comfortable asking questions and getting to know other members.
Before we introduced our panelists, a representative from BrainStation spoke about the exciting courses they have available and offered our attendees 20% off their next BrainStation course! This was followed by Ghislaine, the co-managing director of Girls in Tech Vancouver, who provided an overview of Girls in Tech and how you can get involved. If you are interested in joining our community and empowering women in the tech industry, be sure to check out our open positions.
We were very fortunate to have a diverse group of panelists from different job functions and fields to provide unique insights on “creative” topics. From left to right we have: Darlene Arriola (Senior UX Designer at Visier), Rose Gunson (ESports Creative Program Manager for Gears of War at Microsoft), Vedashree Bankar (Product Designer at Earnin), Selma Zafar (Director of Experience Design at Best Buy), Shirley Ho (Mixed Reality Senior Designer at Microsoft), and Maddy Wilson (Product Marketing Manager at Central 1). Of course, we also have our lovely moderator, Ashley Chen, on the far right.
The panel discussion kicked off with the panelists sharing a bit about themselves and how they got started in their field. The conversation got more specific around their workplace and their thoughts about being a women in a male tech dominated world. The industry professionals also shared how they got to their current role, common misconceptions about their role, big opportunities in the field right now, and what you could do in the meantime to land your next job. They then dove deeper into creative problem solving and design thinking questions, including best practices, current and upcoming trends, and how to leverage emotional intelligence into your design.
Here are some key takeaways from the evening:
- Maddy: Burning out is a huge issue in the workplace nowadays. It is important to have a creative outlet to do something you are interested in outside of work, be it knitting or making soap!
- Shirley: One of the common misconceptions is that there is one set path to become a designer. That is not true at all, people in her team come from all walks of life and did not necessarily have designer experience at the start.
- Rose: There is a difference between mentors and sponsors. They are both important, but it would be especially beneficial if you have a sponsor in your workplace. Mentors are supportive and provides advice for your concerns, whereas sponsors are your advocate that would stand up for you in meetings and help move your career forward.
- Selma: When applying for your next role, be open to opportunities and stay curious. It is important to remove any bias about a company, team, or person. Approach everything with curiosity because each job is a learning opportunity. Be strategic about what you want to learn and how you can be desirable for your next role.
- Vedashree: Being good at learning on the spot will help you stand out against other applicants. The foundational skill of learning is more important than knowing how to use a particular software because it is just a tool that may change.
- Darlene: Be unapologetically you. Believe in yourself and be confident about the unique skills you bring to your team.
- Some resources to stay on top of design trends are to subscribe to articles on Medium, check out content by Luke Wroblewski, and join niche online groups.
The night ended with the announcement of the door prize draw winner for the book “Tech Boss Lady”, written by Adriana Gascoigne – the founder of Girls in Tech! Participants were able to enter their name in the raffle draw when they checked in at the beginning of the event. Congratulations to the lucky winner, Stephanie Anketell!
Impact of the event
Not only did we have a diverse panel, it was awesome to see such a diverse group of attendees as well. There were students, professionals in education, project management, web developers, UX/UI designers, and marketing – just to name a few! The participants were thoroughly engaged throughout the discussion and asked some great questions during Q&A. It was a great opportunity for people to connect with others from different backgrounds who are also interested in how human-centered design can help create detailed solutions for layered problems in day-to-day life. In parallel with the panel discussion, as Rose mentioned, there cannot be creativity without diversity!
From the bottom of our hearts, thank you once again to the panelists who shared their insightful perspectives and everyone who came out on the Wednesday evening. This event would not have happened without you!!
If you weren’t able to make it this time, we are looking forward to seeing you at the next event! 🙂