I was lucky enough to get hold of a ticket for this event, which was held on the 30th of August (last Friday) at Summerhall in Edinburgh and hosted by Girl Geek Scotland. The evening was split into two parts: a panel discussion featuring some Silicon Valley heavyweights, dinner and then a good old fashioned party, all mixed up with the usual networking opportunities. There was a great mix of people from students and postgrads to entrepreneurs, industry professionals and academics from a large variety of geeky disciplines.
The panel, hosted by Suzanne Doyle-Morris, featured Ann Winblad, Heidi Roizen, Wendy Lea and Karen White. All five women are held in high regard in Silicon Valley and are involved in more prestigious companies than you can shake a memory stick at, but have also been friends for many years. This friendship really came across in the panel discussion as they talked about the topics raised by Suzanne, which focused on how they came to be where they are today and any advice they could impart to the room. I admit that what I know about investment and venture capital could fit onto a postage stamp, but the panel were fantastic at keeping things simple for us dafties and some of their anecdotes had us rolling in our seats.
However, the best part for me was the truly inspiring advice given by each panellist. Heidi in particular really spoke to me and seemed to be the most popular speaker with many others; she has such a wonderful sense of humour and made us laugh a lot, but at the same time the advice she gave based on her life was really invaluable. I had totally forgotten that she was the subject of the Heidi Roizen Case Study, which is a really insightful and thought provoking read into gender stereotypes and assumptions on women made by both sexes.
The main pieces of advice I took away from the panel are:
- Failure is okay as long as you learn from your mistakes
- Don’t be afraid to compromise without selling yourself out
- Be proactive! If you want something, go for it
- Do what makes you happy, not what pleases someone else
In addition to the many companies in attendance, we were joined by representatives from Spraffl, which added an extra dimension to the evening via the power of anonymous, location based social media – it’s essentially Twitter without the usernames. Some of the comments that came through on the big screens were typical of an Edinburgh audience – one user commented on the delay of dinner by suggesting that the trams would be up and running before we got fed – but it was also a great opportunity for people to spraff (post) their thoughts on the panel discussions. Sadly half of the room was alienated as it’s currently only available for iOS; I’m an Android user and I won’t bore you with my thoughts on this, but it really does grind my gears when we’re second fiddle to the hipsters, grr.
After dinner, we moved to the Anatomy Room (for those unfamiliar with Summerhall, it’s an old, venerable campus used by Edinburgh University’s veterinary school and still boasts many original features) for some pictures. We then decamped to the Dissection Room for the party (no animals were harmed by the revellers), complete with DJ and bar. I met some lovely people – Yasmin, if you’re reading I’d like to say thank you for the drink! – and am also considering taking part in Byte Night, a fundraiser night where people sleep rough in the Meadows in Edinburgh to raise funds for Shelter. This will depend on if I am in America or not; more on that later, if I win a sponsorship place!
I’d like to thank Girl Geek Scotland for a fun, educational evening and look forward to attending many more. One thing though – someone might want to tell the caterers that vegetarians and vegans don’t appreciate being served a plate of salad for dinner 😉