Lumenci @ Grace Hopper Celebration
Updated: Nov 12, 2019
Authored by Sonika Shriwastav and Celeny Benitez
Grace Hopper Celebration is the world's largest gathering of women technologists. Two of our Associates have attended this prestigious event. As a member of the Hopper program, Celeny Benitez attended this October 2019. While a student at Carnegie Mellon University, Sonika Shriwastav attended in 2018. They compare their experiences in an interview style presented below.
Celeny: Now that you have graduated university and entered the workforce, how do you stay connected to GHC and its activities? Did you stay connected to any other attendees since your visit?
Sonika: I signed up for Anitab.Org’s newsletters and I get event-related updates from there. Additionally, I am still in touch with two of the attendees I met at the conference. One was an alumnus of Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) and a Software Engineer at Microsoft. She told me about her transition from Pittsburgh to Redmond and the work culture at Microsoft and we continue to discuss our career progress. The other attendee was a junior at my undergraduate program when I was a freshman there. She was a speaker at GHC’18 and her session revolved around the topic of ‘Imposter syndrome’. Since then, we have occasionally talked about how the imposter syndrome affects us and those around us. Thus, the few relationships I made (reinforced) during GHC, taught me a great deal.
Celeny: Is there a speaker you remember that formed a big impression on you? Perhaps a presenter or session that stood out to you.
Sonika: I attended the Grace Hopper Celebration in 2018 and since I was a student back then, I spent most of my time at the Career Expo. From the sessions that I attended, the one that stood out for me was by Patricia Dodson, a UX Researcher on the Alexa team at Amazon. Her focus on the customer-centric approach during decision making. She took an example of a failed language interpretation by Alexa during some tests. She went on to elaborate on the strategy they took towards fixing it and the role that voices and pronunciations of diverse people (specifically customers) could play in training Alexa to improve accuracy. Even though it was just a half-hour session, it got me hooked on to the area of user experience and design. It pushed me towards learning more about the high-stakes and underrated role that consumers play in product development and how user experience can be enhanced by being exhaustive in such research.
Celeny: Was the legal tech sector sufficiently represented at GHC’18?
Sonika: The legal tech sector was under-represented at GHC, but lately due to a lot of advancements/venture activity in Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and Blockchain, it has been gaining momentum. Companies such as Atrium are taking technology driven approach to law and deliver efficient solutions. Celeny: Do you think GHC would benefit from a "start-up" section at the fair?
Sonika: Yes. Startups are the building blocks of the industry and the powerhouse of innovation. If there is a startup section at GHC, it would really help students to connect with these companies and learn more about the unique opportunities and services they offer. Additionally, with the flatter hierarchy that startups work along, they are often represented by their leadership at large-scale tech events. This acts as a coveted networking opportunity for students who are just getting started with their careers. Celeny: If Lumenci were to host a 30-minute session, what do you think would make a good topic?
Sonika: Unlocking the Potential of Intellectual Property (IP) Assets using Spearheaded Insights. Lumenci provides its clients with a gamut of services to help them monetize their IP assets. Our expertise lies at the junction of detailed technical understanding and its translation to patents. While some clients are specific with the services they require, most are keen to explore all the possibilities that are available to make the most of their IP assets. Thus, if Lumenci delivers a 30-minute session at GHC, it should focus on how technology companies can tap into the infinite potential of their IP assets and how Lumenci can walk them through this process.
Lumenci strives to create insight with our thought leadership program. We encourage these dialogues to foster growth in personal and professional development.
Sonika: What role does a Hopper play at the conference?
Celeny: The Hopper Program is the volunteer organization to bring more students and professionals into space with a scholarship. Around 200 Hoppers were accepted out of more than 1000 applicants.
The Hoppers volunteer 6-8 hours in sessions where additional help is needed. Through the Hopper program, I participated in sessions that otherwise wouldn’t be available to me. In my case, I volunteered in a Professional Development workshop and a forum for only C-suite executives.
Sonika: What do you think gave you the edge in the Hopper application? Celeny: I applied with a description of my Associate Consultant role in Lumenci. Then, I described the company’s vision and its position as an upcoming start-up in the IP & legal tech space. I emphasized that as a Hopper attendee, I would provide representation for the IP & legal tech industry
Currently, patent analysis and monetization is slow, archaic, costly and inaccurate. Lumenci’s Mission is to enable IP owners conduct faster, more accurate and dynamic IP analysis, monetization and value-creation.
Lastly, I supplied all information in my previous volunteer experience. Some examples are volunteering at South by Southwest, Girl Day booths on the UT Austin campus, and at career fairs. If you are still in university, you can prepare ahead of time for your application by finding a fair or another organized event to volunteer at.
Sonika: How was the experience and what did it teach you?
Celeny: The experience in the Tech Executive Forum was valuable. The discussion showed me that diversity is on the front of these executives' minds. You can see their genuine concerns with the thoughtfulness of their responses.
The presenters the conference hired are compelling! They presented visual data and research to make their arguments. Their persuasive speeches argued that executives are uniquely qualified to make immediate changes to the industry.
One example of a business titan making necessary changes came from Pinterest’s diversity officer. She brought motivation to change Pinterest’s search bar. Previously, Pinterest search results returned beauty results in one skin tone. After engineering changes, queries returned results in multiple skin tones. This change was made so all users could have a pleasant searching experience.
Sonika: Which session was your favorite and why? Celeny: My favorite session was from the lightning break-out sessions in the Tech Executive Forum. I chose Oona King, VP of Diversity and Inclusion at Snap Inc.
She spoke on serving in government as a member of parliament. This experience informed her work while at Google as Youtube’s Diversity Director. There was a group discussion on how Google measured above and beyond government requirements. Their diversity statistics are over gender, ethnicity, geographic location, family socioeconomic status, and more personal identity markers. She showed how analyzing this data brings insight into company hiring, long-term success, and maximizing the market audience.
Sonika: Was your favorite speaker at the same session? If yes, what did you learn from them? If no, which session and what inspired you about him/her?
Celeny: My favorite speakers were Julia Zhou and Jenny Lu from Coinbase. Their workshop session was on Building Your First Dapp which covered the creation of a decentralized application based on Ethereum.
The presenters were technically very skilled. This was seen in the Ethereum workshop presented by Coinbase as the speakers covered a wide breadth of information in Web3 development.
Lumenci values progressive learning for all employees. Workshop attendance and continuing education is encouraged to enhance knowledge in software and blockchain development
I gained knowledge on security to prevent improper use or robbery. We also discussed the restriction in permanence. Smart contracts are immutable so they cannot change once deployed. This session was interesting because it created an opportunity to talk about decentralized architecture when almost all others at the conference operate in the traditional centralized network. The presenters brought forth evidence of systems moving towards decentralization. They provided a list of companies currently developing in those platforms for practical use. It’s easy to see how others, including Lumenci, will be able to develop in that direction.