Women of Silicon Roundabout 2021 — Live attendance

I attended the women of Silicon Roundabout for the second time in 2021 (the first event World Series Online Festival). My first time was earlier this year, when the event was kept virtual and I could not wait to attend when WOSR announced they would be doing a live event. This year I gave two virtual talks- one was based on testing data science models and the latest talk was on how to bring accessibility into your teams. Before we deep dive into this blog and how I found the event let’s understand what the WOSR conference is about. The conference is based on women in technology and has a wide amount of tech flavours making sure everyone can take away something. As BBC rightly mentions it is “inspirational, aspirational, motivational and empowering”. This does not mean it is only a women’s event, men were also present at this event. The event was divided into three parts, first the main conference halls, workshop rooms for premium members and expo area with all sponsors.

Why should one attend ?

Well if you are looking to learn something new, network, share knowledge or even learn about firms and what they do, then this is the right place for you to explore.

What my Day 1 looked like…

I arrived at the Intercontinental O2 Hotel, quite a Lush hotel and big enough to host an event of this scale. In the Whova app I did see 1000+ people attending too. I was asked for my COVID-19 vaccination proof which I found super good and safe. I missed out the keynote from Sarah Palmer who is a coach from Power Speaking. However, I managed to meet her face-to-face a little later that day and she is lovely. I managed to grab a coffee and walk around the expo area which was quite interesting as there were quite a few firms with lovely “swag”. Some firms had a raffle system on the Whova app and some also had promotional offers too. I had a good hour walking around speaking to the exhibitors and learning what type of roles they are looking for. Many of them did not have a QA or software tester role but called it Software Engineering, which meant you can join and work in an area you want to base your career in. So for example a software engineer in development or a software engineer in test.

Once I finished speaking to the exhibitors and had a handful of goodies, I attended my first talk on The Green Cloud — Fueling A Sustainable Future For Cloud Technology, by Denise Bryant and Matt Watts from NetApp. They jointly and very beautifully explained how it has become more fashionable now to move data to the cloud, but first we should optimise our mess otherwise it’s unsustainable and unethical. Matt displayed really good stats such as ICT takes up 2% of electricity( power centres) and if we continue the way we do it would be 8% by 2030. He also suggested an interesting book to read more on which is called “ How bad are bananas”.

Opportunities are everywhere but our IT teams should make good decisions in order to maintain sustainability in the cloud! We should ask, take ownership and take this responsibility. What is your CO2 footprint?

My next talk was on Developing AI Literacy: How To Ride The Wave Of AI by Emily Bremner, VP at SignalAI. Emily quite nicely explained what AI- simply it’s a tool. It’s a way to see aspirational technology and transformation. She stated we need to understand the following first :

  • Business problem( what are we trying to solve?)
  • Data ( bias, privacy, data existence, usable)
  • Model (off the shelf/inbuilt)
  • Readiness ( when to further optimise the model, all the data science side of things and AI alignment)

Next was time for some workshops! My first one was about Practical Statistics For Running Experiments with Annie Guo from Yelp. I really enjoyed this workshop as it was quite engaging and Annie explained 5 statistical experiments one could use everyday. The following rules were showcased:

  • Small sample of data — The rule of 5
  • How to read ratings ( Laplace’s rule, the rule of 3)
  • Rule 72
  • Probability of something that has not happened yet
  • Bayesian theorem

I then attended a talk by MongoDB Cybersecurity & Skillsets: What Got You Here Won’t Get You There by Lena Smart. This was a great talk on security and how to keep your team motivated. Some of the things Lena spoke about where the following:

  • Pen-testing
  • Red/Blue team
  • App development security
  • Security operations
  • Zero trust ( validate and limit access)
  • Security Auditor

She suggested every team to have some sort of playbook to follow their security as well as a Security champion Program which was quite interesting! I must say MongoDB had the BEST swag!

It was then time for lunch then and this is what I had:

After a lovely lunch I attended a workshop delivered by Deliveroo, What Do You Get If You Cross An Elephant With A Fish? Some Experimentation Fundamentals. The workshop was quite interactive too. We were given a grid where we counted elephants & fishes at first and submitted that, then we counted turtles and finally we counted more turtles and all of this was a collection of data and A/B testing. They spoke to us about randomised experiments in order to isolate effects of particular features/changes on metrics. Furthermore around power calculation which was around probability calculating and statistically significant effect when there actually is one (minimum detectable effect). All in all a fun workshop.

Day 2

I arrived around 9.45am on day 2 and went to the Deloitte booth as a greeter for half an hour and really enjoyed speaking to fellow deloitte employees and the attendees of the conference. I got some lovely goodies from Deloitte too! Soon after that I met my friends and attended the exhibitors to learn some more about them and to those I did not speak to on day 1. Oh also the breakfast/snacks were quite tasty too!

Workshop time! I attended Data Engineering In Action — Banking Use Case Simulation by Kavya Nagarajan and Una Qian from QuantumBlack. They started off by explaining what they do as data engineers and the challenges they have faced. It was good to understand what the following roles meant for them- Data engineers, data scientists, Machine learning engineers, User experience and Front end and back end engineers.

They explained the difference between target variables and predictors ( Target variable : what we want to predict & predictors are the features/ data sets). They took us over the layers of their data lakes which was quite nice to understand. Their case study on a bank was really well presented and a great example too. Some of the challenges they have faced and we can relate with were the following:

  • Data silos ( master data inefficiency)
  • Operational challenges
  • Lack of centralised raw data storage
  • Inefficient BI layer
  • Inefficient data ingestion framework
  • No Data science platform
  • No data governance framework

If you are interested to know more it would be worth connecting with QuantumBlack.

The Hybrid Cloud Challenge by Priya Saxena and Sakshi Saxena, was my next talk I attended It was quite nice and very easy to follow. The talk was based on how to make cloud more hybrid. The duo started with a cloud 101 which was nice as a refresher. What I really liked was their challenges they faced and some security concerns one should focus on:

  • Afraid of moving sensitive data to the cloud
  • Connectivity between on premise and cloud
  • Security for internet facing workloads
  • Danger of data exfiltration by insiders
  • Flexibility to access from anywhere
  • Centrally controlled governance & security

To end the day I attended one last live session which was about We Race As One — Driving A Unified Business by Monica Jurkiewicz from Formula 1. It was really interesting to understand how the pandemic impacted F1 and yet after rethinking their entire process and ways of working, they came back with a bang!

Then came time for my virtual talk to go live. I was overwhelmed to see such a good response for my talk. Here is the result :

Calling it a day

All in all WOSR was a great experience for me as an attendee and speaker. I really enjoyed networking, learning and sharing knowledge with individuals. If you want to change your career path or learn about a firm or even have a day away from your day to day work tasks this would be a good option to attend. I would like to thank the organisers and hope to be at a future event with more useful knowledge to share with the audience and learn new things in the tech world.

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