Women of Avast talk about Women in Tech 2020

Tami Reichold 5 Jan 2021

The 2020 Women in Technology Festival included some valuable takeaways that can be used inside and outside the industry

Attending the Women in Technology Online Festival – even if it was "only" virtually – proved to be a very enriching experience. The sessions were insightful and educational, and the only issue (which can be seen as a rather ‘luxury problem’) was that there were almost too many talks to choose from. This, however, surely enabled everyone to discover topics they found interesting and useful, on both personal and professional levels. 

The presentations and workshops I chose to attend were a mix of personal and professional development topics. I also selected many technical talks to get useful insights that I could share with my colleagues, as well as apply at work either immediately or at some point in future. 

What I learned at the event

Here are my personal top five sessions from the festival, each with some key takeaways:

1. Amplify Your Influence, Secure Your Seat

  • Show your value to the business (with useful language, i.e. “In my experience…”)
  • Get to know people and offer help (upper level)
  • Try to understand others in all aspects (team level)
  • Notice, listen, and ask questions

2. Accelerate Your Career: Why High Performance ALONE Is Not Enough

  • Gain exposure to influential people/network/volunteering
  • Don’t just always work on your tasks – make a conscious effort to socialize with people

3. Building Product Culture from the Bottom Up

  • Anyone can start a community
  • There is power in having many initiatives
  • Make active choices to promote diversity
  • Avoid silos – get people that are involved with the product development in one way or another to collaborate and communicate with each other in order to not replicate the same or similar tasks across different brands

4. Underdogs, Misfits and the Art of Battling Giants - How to Thrive as a Woman in Tech

  • Speak up when you want something
  • Become a person of value
  • Let your voice be heard
  • Speak with confidence
  • Know your stuff
  • Learn how to handle conflict
  • Take on a leadership role
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for a raise/promotion
  • Find a sponsor
  • Lead by example

5. Navigating Ambiguity

  • Build self-sustaining teams
  • Develop decision-making skills
  • Set clear ownership and accountability
  • Manage scope creep (sudden increase of project scope)
  • Have different project management techniques for different projects
  • Get comfortable with ambiguity
  • Adapt to a changing environment

I strongly recommend attending these conferences wherever and whenever possible, as they’re very inspiring. The Women in Technology series is already planning its 2021 roster! Every single talk I mentioned above, plus all those I attended and didn’t mention, triggered multiple ideas about how to embed the content into my life and work, extending and adjusting some of the concepts to fit my own needs and future plans. 

Another benefit of these talks is that sometimes it’s just good and motivating to hear things you might already know, just to give you a little bit of a reminder of how you could be doing things differently to reach your goals.

Feedback from other Avastians

Many of my colleagues at Avast also attended the festival and felt very positive about it. Here are some of their comments:

“As a Diversity and Inclusivity Representative, I feel extremely proud that Avast was a Bronze sponsor this year, sponsoring 15 Avastians to attend the week-long virtual conference. During this week, I was able to develop my technical + soft skills, as well as expand my mindset when it comes to diversity-related content. This was extremely motivating and inspired me to implement these ideas at work and to help Avast grow in 2021.” -Janine Luk, Software Engineer

“As a writer and non-developer in tech, I was honored to receive a ticket to the Women in Technology conference last month. I learned some tough questions I can – and should – ask during the recruitment process each time we bring other writers into the industry, and I took away a more concrete understanding of how intersectionality and a more equitable workplace benefits everyone, not just the one or two focus groups of the moment. One of my best takeaways from the conference was interest in reflecting on my own priorities, which will hopefully help me communicate my needs, avoid burnout, and keep my fire burning well into the future. I look forward to sharing these insights with my team going forward!” -Ellie Farrier, Technical Writer

“When I found out that Avast supports initiatives like the Woman in Technology conference, I didn't hesitate to immediately sign up. It was fascinating to see such a huge number of people as interested in certain topics as I am. The possibility to network with people and to learn more about data analysis and how it is done in other companies was very valuable. I am very grateful for this opportunity and look forward to other events!” -Sylva Vu, CCleaner Analytics

“After living in the U.S. for almost 10 years, I’ve become an ambassador for equal rights and a safe place to work for female, black, LGBT, and other communities, and I’m passionate about having diversity in groups. I was happy to learn that Avast – a European company – has such a program. Typically we do not face the same issues to the same extent as we do in the States. I am very grateful for this opportunity and look forward to other events, as well as for Avast to implement some mandatory D&I programs for all Avastians.” -Antoinette Cocorinos, Product Manager

"As an Avastian attending the Women in Technology event, this was very inspiring for my personal and professional life. Learning so many amazing stories about women from all around the world, sharing their growth and achievements, opened my mindset. I was happily surprised to learn about diversity and inclusion, and I am very excited about how we could implement some of the ideas. I am very grateful for this opportunity and look forward to what is next.” -Maria del Pilar Arias Garzon, Junior QA Engineer

“Being given a chance to look behind the door of D&I in Avast approximately 2 months ago, I got a great opportunity to learn that our company is incorporating D&I initiatives into the Avast world. This made me interested in anything to do with D&I problems, and the Women in Tech Online Festival enabled me to listen to very interesting, highly professional people delivering exceptional insight from different fields, such as action plans, equity, and inclusion during crisis. I was so honored to receive a ticket. I learned there are many various areas in D&I. I was delighted by all the workshops on well-being. The tips and advice from professionals for sure brought knowledge of how important it is to realize my own values and needs. A couple of weeks later, I became a part of the D&I team at Avast, and I am so excited about a deep dive into the issues and to help and improve my fellow Avastians' journeys towards better futures for all of us, with no exceptions.” -Anita Ziburova, D&I Programs Coordinator

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