IWD Power Hour: How we built our profiles in the community successfully

Due to Covid-19, all the conferences in Singapore have been cancelled especially the Microsoft Ignite The Tour. This is for the safety of the attendees, speakers and also the organizers of the said event. Microsoft went virtual with the conferences to share and connect globally while at home. Last 7 March 2017, Microsoft Tech Community APAC Online has been done virtually.

March is the month for International Women’s Day, and that day I had the privilege to be part of the panel discussion in the said event to celebrate International Women’s Day. The topic is about “Empower Women Leadership Panel: How we built our profiles in the community successfully as a woman and how to make a better community “.

During the panel discussion, one of the questions was on how did I get where I am right now. My answer to that was because my Mom, the community, and my husband’s support were able to help and lead me to who I am now..  My mom helped me realize one thing when I saw some hard calculations in a new school (I’m not sure if it is an algebra or trigonometry class). I told her “I don’t think I can’t do this mom” (‘coz I was nervous if I fail and it’s a new world to me, I don’t know someone in my class). And my mom told me “If they can do it, YOU CAN”. Until now, the message is still in me. 

I started being in the community when I started to learn Microsoft SharePoint. I didn’t know about SharePoint during my first job. My boss asked me to build a SharePoint Development server and that’s how I started enjoying SharePoint. Everything that I have right now, knowledge, and experience are because of the community. I asked questions online, read blogs and articles in Microsoft blogs. I  also connected with the MVPs on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.  I watched their videos on YouTube and share them on my social media in order to help others as well. I watched Microsoft conferences online (even though it is in a different timezone) and that’s where I found out about Microsoft Ignite. To attend Ignite became part of my personal bucket list. Collab365 Community is my go-to community online before the Microsoft Tech Community was born.

Due to the timezone difference of conferences abroad, I decided to reach out to the local community. I checked ”Meetups” if there is one local event but there were just a few SharePoint sessions that time. I tried some of the sessions and it was an eye-opener to me. Being in the community at first, was very intimidating for me. I never experienced inequality in the workplace and never thought about it. I just go on with my life. Later on, I realized that there were just a few women attending technology events. This is the observation that I had when I attended local events. Is it because of intimidation (like what I have felt before) that they do not attend the events? or because of time? Or I’m not sure what is it. Then I looked up online for a community where women are mostly involved and have a very diverse topic. That is when I was able to find out about Women Who Code. Women Who Code is a non-profit organization and the headquarters is in California. At that time, they have different networks in different countries except for Manila. I applied online to bring Women Who Code to our country and co-directed the Women Who Code – Manila. We built the community from 12 members and now we are more than 2000+ members. We conducted weekly study groups with different topics and held conferences and talks. We built a community where women are more comfortable to be themselves, not afraid of asking questions, and are open to each other. We lift up each other and give appreciation to each of their achievements in their profession or in other areas of life. Actually, the community also has male allies who support us in our journey. We couldn’t make it this far without their help as well. Being in a diverse world means having both men and women lift up each other to make the world a better place.

When I transferred to Singapore, I still continued to be part of the technology community. I attended sessions and conferences for Azure, Office, and Data Community. I’m very grateful to the community and to the leaders especially, Senthamil Selvan, MVP of Office Development, and Rene Modery, MVP of Office Apps & Services. Rene is the first person that I connected with when I was still in the Philippines. He encouraged and still encourages me to present in the community. He then introduces me to Senthamil Selvan. Senthamil also helps and guides me, especially when it comes to presenting in the Singapore community. He gives me some tips and introduced me to other leaders in the community. The very first person who always encourages me to speak is Jasjit Chopra, MVP of Microsoft Azure. I met him online when I usually interact in Collab365 as a member. I finally met him when he was in Singapore during the Microsoft Ignite the Tour. I’m very thankful for his support.

Back then, I usually connect with other WWCode networks like Singapore. I’m still connecting with Women Who Code Singapore especially with Purnima Kamath, Director of WWCode Singapore. Together, we attended one of the conferences and crafted our biography for events together. She helped me a lot in building the biography and because of that, I started to accept some speaking engagements using the biography that we had crafted. Without their encouragement and support, I can’t overcome my fear to speak.

I’ve read a lot of good books, and 5 of them are good references. One of the books that struck me most is “Brave not Perfect by Reshma Saujani.” This book talks about how women have been brought up to be perfect in every way, which held us back. Women are afraid of making mistakes and asking questions because people are expecting us to be perfect. We can’t explore things because of this perspective of women. I hope this perspective will change so that women can explore more and be brave. We are smart and strong. We need more women in our society to speak up and help the community.

It’s great to be part of the community. You will learn a lot and meet many amazing people who will help you and guide you in your journey. In your local community, there will always be someone who will encourage you and help you. Just don’t be afraid to approach them. Be brave 🙂

“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing” – Helen Keller