Posted by Elham Ghassemzadeh, Vice President of Product Management, NetSuite
There’s a special feeling when you walk into the Anita Borg Institute Grace Hopper Conference. As a woman working in technology, usually when you walk into a room, you're in the minority. Here it's the complete opposite. Simply put, it's a different feeling when you are with other technically-minded women and think, “I’m not alone.” It gives you such a boost of confidence and a sense of camaraderie. It’s a genuinely warm feeling to experience.
And that’s just one of the many reasons why NetSuite will once again have a strong presence at the annual event, celebrating women in technology.
We are in our third year of participating and each time we become more involved. Last year, NetSuite sponsored the conference lanyards, with more than 12,000 attendees wearing our logo throughout the conference! Brian Chess, NetSuite's Senior Vice President of Infrastructure and Security, presented at a session, and represented NetSuite as our Technical Executive. I and a few others took part in the Student Opportunity Labs, quick mentoring sessions with young women in the field. I made so many connections with young women who wanted to learn about product management. Some of those contacts continued to reach out to me over the course of the year. And that is another advantage of attending the event, the chance to connect with others, and not just in a networking capacity.
In the office, we ordinarily work with people in our department. With Grace Hopper, it’s cross-functional. Women at NetSuite volunteered from various departments, and we wound up working closely together, an enriching opportunity we normally wouldn’t have had.
This year the conference passes were sold out within 15 minutes of registration opening. Nevertheless, we are sending 35 attendees, including six speakers, the result of a significant internal effort calling for participation. Doug Brown, NetSuite's CIO, is also attending as our Technical Executive. We felt it was important to have someone of that caliber attending. We’re very appreciative of the support of executive leadership. We are also once again lanyards sponsors. With the conference growing year over year, this time, 15,000 attendees are expected.
These types of events have paid off with real results. As a company, through Grace Hopper and our Women in NetSuite (WIN) initiative, we have raised a lot of awareness among management about what we do and what their responsibilities are in promoting diversity. The result is we’ve seen more women promoted to managerial ranks and a shift in hiring toward diversity. The ABI partnership and participation in programs such as Top Companies makes NetSuite more attractive for recruiting women in general, even beyond just technical roles. We are proudly listed as a Change Alliance Partner, promoting our commitment to diversity.
I hope we continue this momentum and our commitment to diversity in technology into the future.
The Grace Hopper Conference targets professional women in technology, However I can, without reservation, recommend it to any woman. It’s a very gratifying experience to participate. Thanks to the WIN Recruiting Sub-committee members, and our University Relations staff to make our participation possible again.