By Joanne Liou, Communications and Impact Specialist
At the Silicon Valley Experts Symposium, nearly 300 people from the IT and business community had an opportunity to hear from and engage with the delegation. Information Technology State Committee Chairperson Sharshenbiyev B.N and U.S. Ambassador to Kyrgyzstan Sheila Gwaltney opened the symposium.
“In the Kyrgyz Republic, women are active in their communities and increasingly fill key positions,” Ambassador Sheila stated. “Women are traditional leaders in health and education, and increasingly are excelling in the agriculture, tourism, marketing and tech sectors. Women entrepreneurs here have great energy and powerful ideas, and they often offer a new perspective on how to overcome challenges, take advantage of opportunities, and improve society.”
Providing a mentor’s perspective, Jill Finlayson of Singularity University addressed the audience about why TechWomen is important and why she mentors. Veronika Iurchenko, 2016 fellow of Kyrgyzstan, shared how TechWomen has energized Kyrgyzstan and the projects and initiatives the in-country fellows are involved with, such as IT Attractor Plus Programmer’s Club.
Why mentor? For them. For you. For the world. It allows you to take talented ppl to make a diff in lives, communities & countries. #TWkgz
— TechWomen (@TechWomen) February 28, 2017
Before the breakout sessions, Erin Keeley of HGST moderated a panel discussion on trends in Silicon Valley. Kuldeep Khanijow of Symantec, Rima Akras of LinkedIn and Nandini Ramani of Twitter discussed the importance of having a diverse workforce and exposing children to science and technology.
Underlying theme: to gain diversity, treat people like human beings, with respect, resources, flexibility #TWkgz
— IdaRose Sylvester (@idarose) February 28, 2017
Each mentor hosted a session based on their interests and expertise. Sessions ranged from “Science, Data and Community: How Tech has Helped Provide Access to Data and Why it Matters” with Ramya Sankar of Lawrence Hall of Science to “Embracing an Agile Mindset in Business & Tech” with Devanshi Sheth of Symantec and “Accelerating Business Development by Using the Design Model Canvas” with Jeannice Fairrer Samani of Anita Borg Institute. Each mentor, including Judith Fleenor of Sunrun, who presented “Experts Don’t Know: Creating a Culture of Innovation” and Lynn Strand of Positive Impact Partner, who presented “Successful Technology Marketing: Dos and Don’ts,” drew from personal and professional experiences.
Mentors connect with startup community
The delegation attended a weekly StartUp Tuesday event, leading TED-talk presentations and participating in a panel discussion. Rebecca Biswas of Juniper Networks, Kiko Smith of Twitter, IdaRose Sylvester of Silicon Valley Link and Rima shared their personal journey and overcoming challenges in the tech industries.
Nandini moderated a panel discussion on the challenges and opportunities for women in tech with Katy Dickinson of Mentoring Standard, Leedjia Svec of NASA, Saura Naim of Juniper Networks and Kuldeep.