Bulgarian Women in Tech Event Overview: Everything You Wanted to Know About a Career in Tech and Were Too Afraid To Ask

Eva Benn
Eva Benn
Feb 2 · 6 min read
From left to right: Eva Benn, Petya Vodolova, James Whittaker, Mamtha Banerjee, Elka Rouskov, Yani Donchev, Rumy Garbova, Antoaneta Manko

On January 22, 2020, the Bulgarian Women in Tech hosted its inaugural event in Redmond, Washington. The event was well-organized and it had a great turnout. All guests were invited to attend free of cost, in alignment with the organization’s core values to prioritize accessibility and drive diversity and inclusion though making events available to everyone regardless of their gender, ethnicity or current profession.

The organization marked its entrance by bringing not one, but two remarkable speakers: the legendary writer, tech evangelist, and career guru James Whittaker and the accomplished tech entrepreneur, leader, and GHC Speaker Mamtha Banerjee. With this kind of lineup, it didn’t come to anyone’s surprise that tickets ran out fast, ending with a nearly 90 people on waitlist.

The event was focused on providing attendees with career growth perspectives and actionable guidance for career success in the tech field and beyond.

The Crowd

The event brought together people from a wide range of tech companies in the Seattle area, such as Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Expedia.

All the attendees had the opportunity to network with each other before the event and many of them shared their LinkedIn contact information to connect with the community online.

Mamtha Banerjee sharing her tips for career success

The Refreshments

The Good Cause

The attendees could also grab a free Bulgarian Women in Tech sticker and have the unique opportunity to donate to Raven Rock Ranch in Woodinville, a ranch that matches horses and kids who are experiencing mental and physical hardship, in exchange to a signed James Whittaker’s book.

The Introduction

The event organizers started by introducing Bulgarian Women in Tech, a global non-profit organization aiming to support and encourage people from any gender, ethnicity or socioeconomic status to pursue, build and grow successful careers in the tech field. The attendees were presented with the following video to learn more about the organization.

The Note from the Founders

The Bulgarian Women in Tech founders, Eva Benn and Antoaneta Manko, each shared our stories and the reason why we decided to create an organization to encourage and help others with their careers. Neither of us had a clear career path and ended up with a career in tech merely on accident. We both want to help more people enter the tech field on purpose, not accident and to ensure that every woman and men on this planet have the opportunity, the means technology and the support to pursue a successful career in the tech field.

The Bulgarian Women in Tech Founders Eva Benn and Antoaneta Manko

The Bulgarian Women in Tech Team

The founders recognized and thanked the Bulgarian Women in Tech team and announced that the Bulgarian Women in Tech is expanding its global footprint by opening a chapter in Bulgaria.

The Mentorship Program

The Bulgarian Women in Tech founders also introduced the organization's global mentorship program that aims to connect like-minded professionals, while offering career guidance and opportunities for professional growth. The program fosters networking opportunities and exposure beyond the high potential employee’s day to day scope, in addition to helping to foster cross-functional thinking and engagement.

The program is free and easy to join. Anyone can find more details by joining the Bulgarian Women in Tech’s private Facebook group.

Mamtha Banerjee

Mamtha Banerjee

Mamtha Banerjee is a Tech entrepreneur, who has previously founded two successful startups. She is currently a Senior Director, Technology at Expedia Group, where she leads core applications and services on the Virtual Agent Platform (VAP). She believes that diversity enables teams to build superior products and achieve better outcomes. Over the years she has consciously worked towards building more diverse and gender-balanced teams. Mamtha was an invited speaker at Grace Hopper Celebration in Orlando, where she talked about ‘Concrete Steps to Tech’ In her spare time, she enjoys reading, running, and has completed a few marathons. Her passion for the outdoors drove her to hike Mt. Everest and Annapurna base camps and summit Mt. Kilimanjaro.

Mamtha’s talk was concentrated on the non-linear path to success and how to overcome adversity. She shared valuable examples from her corporate and entrepreneurial experience and emphasized on the importance of finding good mentors. The key takeaways from her talks were to get out of your comfort zone, focus not only on the tech skills, but also on the behavioral skills, and, most of all, get sh*t done, regardless of the curveballs life throws at you.

She spoke about the fact that sometimes you experience a slowdown in your career or something bad happens in life, but that’s ok. I think it was a powerful message to send.

James Whittaker

James Whittaker

James Whittaker is an xFBI, xGOOGLE, xMICROSOFT. Aside from his remarkable contributions to the technology industry, James is known to be the Sriracha hot sauce in the world of ketchup. He refuses to be anything but brutally honest, making him an authentic, incredibly engaging speaker and a compelling thought leader. James is a notable author of many highly renowned publications. In one of his well-known blog posts, “Why I left Google”, Whittaker writes candidly about the complicated feelings involved with falling out of love with Google and about his optimism for Microsoft’s potential. To his own surprise, the blog post garnered more than a million readers.

James’ talk focused on the future of technology and spoke to the idea of life as a service. He advised that if you can’t run your business as a service, you might want to rethink it. He emphasized on the importance of data. James passionately explained that the skills required to manage large amount of data and build machine learning models to predict patterns will become more essential than coding in the next 10 years.

His culmination of his speech was when James let the audience in on the fascinating project he’s been working on since he left Microsoft — building smart homes of the future. Homes as a service

Conclusion

The event had an overwhelmingly positive feedback. A full video recording will be available on YouTube soon. Check back for details.

Connect with us via social media and stay tuned for the next Bulgarian Women in Tech event on March 8th in Seattle and upcoming events in Europe. Details below.

Special Thanks

Photographer: Kelsey Graham

Videographer: Rady Tashev

Venue: Microsoft

Connect with Us

Website: https://www.bulgarianwomenintech.org/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/bulgarianwomenintech

Facebook: https://m.facebook.com/bulgarianwomenintech/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/bgwomenintech

Instagram: https://instagram.com/bulgarianwomenintech

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCY4-p29eNVRG8NHsPzFbwCA

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About the Authors and Founders of Bulgarian Women in Tech

Eva Benn is a Senior Engineering Program Manager at Microsoft, co-founder of Bulgarian Women in Tech and an ISACA Puget Sound Chapter Marketing Director. Eva is passionate about empowering others and expanding the women in tech footprint, driving closure in the gender gap in the technology industry.

Antoaneta Manko is a Data Analyst at Amazon. She is a strong believer that the world’s toughest problems can be solved using data. Apart from her job, she is passionate about helping others pursue careers in analytics by mentoring and knowledge-sharing.

bulgarianwomenintech

Empowering women in tech through collaborating, growing, inspiring, celebrating, mentoring and creating opportunities for each other.

Eva Benn

Written by

Eva Benn

Microsoft EPM | Storyteller | Runner | Speaker | ISACA PSC Marketing Director | Bulgarian Women in Tech Founder

bulgarianwomenintech

Empowering women in tech through collaborating, growing, inspiring, celebrating, mentoring and creating opportunities for each other.

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