Heather Newman: Hello everyone. Here we are again for another episode of the Mavens Do It Better podcast where we interview extraordinary experts who bring a light to the world. Where we talk to them about technology and brand and origin stories. And today I am so excited to have Shona Bang on a good friend and colleague from Microsoft. Say hello to the listeners.
Shona Bang: Yay. Hi everyone. Thanks for having me, Heather.
Heather Newman: Absolutely. Uh, she is a product marketing manager at Microsoft and she and I did some work together, uh, over the last couple of years working on diversity and inclusion, diversity in tech at Microsoft and she has got a brand new, uh, launching piece in our community that I wanted to talk to her about and also Microsoft Ignite that's coming up. So, why don't we just launch into humans in IT and tell us about that.
Shona Bang: So, we call it Humans of IT, like Humans of New York, if you're familiar with that series. So it's very much about storytelling, right? Helping people really unlock their tech superpowers, as they call it, to do good in this world. So as you know, we love the diversity in tech things that we've been doing over the past couple of years, but I think now is just the right moment for us to up level this to a whole new level and talk about how do we use technology for humanity and how do we use it for good to solve some of the world's biggest problems, whether it's helping people, um, you know, in under-represented situations. Uh, you know, uh, refugees is another big one that we try to look, um, look into. Um, so you know, it's really how do we use technology to really solve world problems is our key goal with this.
Heather Newman: That's awesome. And where can everybody find that?
Shona Bang: So, we have a brand-new community page, aka.ms/humans of it. So check that out. And I think Heather, you can provide a link on there. You know, it's an all new page. We are trying to get new stories. So if anyone is interested in having your story featured, we actually have a call for content now that you could apply to be a guest blogger. Just go to AKA. Dot. MS slash guest bloggers and we'll get in touch.
Heather Newman: That's awesome. That was so exciting to see and it kind of goes hand in hand with the community mentors program, which started like last year, right?
Shona Bang: Yup. It started, you know, it's been a journey with the community mentors program. When we first started, we literally had an Excel sheet that we matched everyone randomly and you know it was going good till we got 1500 applications and we were like, okay, we need to scale and scale big. So that's why we partnered with a local Seattle startup called Tribute to build an all new app that's running on Azure, by the way, we're trying to build Power BI in the backend for our analytics portion, but really the app is meant to, you know, empower people to find their own mentors wherever they are at any stage of your life. And you can have up to five mentors at each time. So whether you're trying to pick up skills on public speaking or technical areas, that's absolutely where you would go to connect with people.
Heather Newman: That's awesome. Yeah, I think that's the cool thing is that I actually just got a mentor at a podcasting conference and I, it's been a long time since I've had a mentor, I will say. And I was so happy and she came, she was, she's a from the LA Times and amazing, you know? It was just so great, sometimes that outside in you don't always see things, you know, and to have someone look at your stuff. She was looking at my podcast and gave me some great feedback and I was just like, Oh, this is amazing, you know? And so I, I'm on Tribute. I went and I was like, I'm, I want a mentor and I want to, you know, have mentees and be a mentor and all of that stuff. So y'all, you have to check this out. Um, the Tribute app and we'll put it in the show notes as well. It's a really, really cool program.
Shona Bang: I think the best thing is mentors can come from anywhere, right? Like sometimes most unexpected places. And what we really try to do with our mentorship app is storytelling based, so it gets really personal when you can read people's life stories.
Heather Newman: Yup. Agreed. Yeah. And yeah, it's not just chuck a bunch of skills and stuff like that. Right. It does go deeper and I
Shona Bang: Life experiences.
Heather Newman: Yeah. Which is really cool about that app. That's awesome that it's a local Seattle company. That's super cool. I love that.
Shona Bang: It's totally free, that's the other thing. aka dot MS slash community mentors is how you would join and yeah, you would have to be a member of the Humans of IT community to get on there. But it's a great place to connect with thousands of people literally at your fingertips.
Heather Newman: Yeah, absolutely. And those of you who are, you know, are, aren't necessarily a part of the tech community yet. It's super easy. Um, it's Microsoft tech community and you go and you sign in and then you can, you know, be a part of Humans of IT. And then also, you can, you know, look at, you know, SharePoint and events and training. There's so much there, you know, so that's a giant, beautiful website that's got so much to offer for everybody. You know, um, it's at anybody and everybody who's working in and around Microsoft products and has an interest and, so lots of really cool things, conversations, blogs, mentorship, all that stuff. So that's awesome. So I want to know, um, I, you, you and I are both, uh, Huskies. We went to UofDub, so back in the day.
Shona Bang: I went there briefly, just for a certificate for that, but yes, I would call myself that.
Heather Newman: I went a little bit further back than you did, but, but you also, um, I'm from Chicago, uh, the, uh, Midwest originally. And so you also, you went to Northwestern and you went to Yale. Talk about that. You've got awesome degrees.
Shona Bang: They're not degrees. They're more like certification programs. Rewind like years and years back, so I'm originally from Singapore. I spent about over five years working at Microsoft Singapore before I finally transferred over to the US. So, it's been about three and a half years here now. And when I got here, I really wanted to learn, you know, on a global level, like tap into these amazing Academy institutions that have all these programs so I did a strategic comms course at UDub. Um, I did a diversity and inclusion certificate with Yale. That was interesting. It was fully online and you would connect with people working on D&I stuff all around the world. Um, they break into groups so it was super interactive. I think they still offer that program if anyone is interested. Feel free to check that out. But yeah, I think, you know, like I'm all about getting new experiences and continually learning from people. So that's something that I've always been passionate about and that's kind of how I got into those.
Heather Newman: Yeah, that's super cool. I've been to Singapore once, I loved it. It's so beautiful and clean.
Shona Bang: Well, have you tried our food? I mean our food is the best.
Heather Newman: I have. Yes. The, what is it? The chili crab
Shona Bang: Chili crab, chicken rice, like all of that, I think, you know, Crazy Rich Asians movie definitely spotlighted Singapore quite a bit. But you gotta go there to experience it yourself.
Heather Newman: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. I actually went to, um, TJ from AvePoint I went to his wedding and uh, yeah, there. And so that was really a special occasion to be there. And they got married on the Island and it was just, uh, yeah. Fantastic. So yeah, it's uh, and I can't wait to go back. It's a good, it's a great place.
Shona Bang: We have Microsoft Ignite the tour in Singapore happening February. So that's definitely one of our stops if you’re interested check it out.
Heather Newman: Yeah, absolutely. Do you get back much?
Shona Bang: Um, not really. Maybe once a year just to see family or go on the Ignite Tours. Tours, you know, it's very consuming as you can tell 30 cities that we're going to cover this year, but very exciting.
Heather Newman: Wow, that's amazing. So yeah, so will you tell everybody a little bit about what your charter is about, what you do?
Shona Bang: Like right now?
Heather Newman: Yeah. Yeah. Your job.
Shona Bang: Um, so right now I lead the Humans of IT community. It's Brand new. Humans of IT is really focusing on tech for good and tech for humanity. So we're all about spotlighting stories, people, um, you know, examples of how you're using technology to solve world problems. Um, it's kind of a role that kind of, we carved it out ourselves. You know, it's not something you find in the JD. It's literally something that came about because we see that there is a great need for it and Microsoft is a huge proponent of that. Um, a lot of examples are in the media recently as you know, Brad Smith published a book called Tools and Weapons. Uh, it's really all about how do we help people around the world get access to technology because technology is a huge leveler, right? In terms of giving people access and opportunities. Um, and that's something we want to showcase. We want to showcase whatever people are doing in their home countries, whether it's in France or in Tel Aviv or Mumbai, you know, there's huge opportunity and I think, you know, giving them the space to share that is really important.
Heather Newman: Yeah, absolutely. And so talk about, um, Dona Sarkar and Annie Parker. I know I saw the, when you were, um, announcing this that, uh, you mentioned both of them with a thank you. How were they involved with the, with the, the movement?
Shona Bang: Yeah, that's a funny backstory to it. So as you know, like they've always been huge supporters of our D and T work that we've been going around D&I. So when we were, you know, re pivoting to this new tribe, they were the first to sign up to be like, I want to be on this. And Dona has been a huge supporter. Like literally even in the early weeks before we got to creating this new thing. Like I met up with her and we talked about the concept and whether this would land with both our IT pro and dev audiences and she was a hundred percent onboard. Any she dragged Annie Parker in, and the next day I get an email saying, Oh yes, Annie Parker's also an exec sponsor. Can you just put her in? Um, and Annie does great work with the Microsoft startups portion of things over, she's based in Australia, but she really does global startup work and you know, we, we see a lot of opportunities in terms of what the startup space is doing. Our Community Mentors program as mentioned, it founded by a Seattle startup. You know, it's women that start up too. So you know, we really want to bring all of these stories to light and giving them that safe space to share that.
Heather Newman: Yeah. That's awesome. That's so, that's so great. What, what, where did you sort of get started with the D&I? I know your, you know, your, your certificate and all that stuff did, was that something that was, you know what I mean? I mean, I know it's like, okay, it's a sort of silly question, but
Shona Bang: No, it's not. This is actually a funny story how I got into this. So I have no like professional D&I background or anything. Like I don't have an organizational behaviors cert or whatnot. My background was actually in crisis PR.
Heather Newman: Okay.
Shona Bang: So, I spent, well, so before that I was managing technical crisis back in Singapore and went off the technical account manager, moved to the US because nobody wanted this job that was focused on crisis PR management. I did that and I've seen, you know, everything from humanitarian issues to cybersecurity cases. Like you name it, like we've probably dealt with it. And one day you met Anna Chu my coworker who runs community. She came over and she said, Hey, you know, we have this role called women in tech marketing. Would you be interested? I'm like, women in tech? Like, no, I can't just do women, it's gotta be all of it. You know, we're not just one dimensional. We are all of the different identities that make us who we are. So I went to our hiring manager at the time to say, Hey, I'm interested in this, but I want to do it holistically. So let's talk about the intersection of diversity and technology. And that's how diversity and tech came about. Um, and we've always been looking at the D&I from a holistic lens.
Heather Newman: Yeah.
Shona Bang: Not only as gender, but also accessibility, you know, um, all the different things we identify with. And that's been my passion from the beginning because, you know, I'm a woman of color. I'm a new immigrant to the US the only one in my family to do it. Um, you know, so all of us have unique stories that just help us, help shape us into who we are. And you know, that's something that I love doing. We did that for almost two years and now I think the time has come for us to take it to the next level. Just talk about humanity as a whole. I love things that have a purpose. You know, work in itself as busy enough. Right. You know, work can be very tiring and exhausting, but I gained a lot of strength working on, you know, issues or things that can help us solve problems in the world. And I think that's something that's a huge motivator for me and my source of energy.
Heather Newman: Yeah. Multilevel multifaceted for sure. Yeah. That's cool. You know, it's so funny. I worked with you for such a long time. I didn't know that origin story.
Shona Bang: Really?
Heather Newman: Yeah, no I didn't actually.
Shona Bang: I feel like a lot of people do, but yeah, I mean it's funny, like I personally have had encountered all kinds of stories. Like when I first moved to the US like I would have people say like, Oh, like how come your English is so good? You know, things like that. It's all based on bias and perception. Like most people don't even know that in Singapore we are bilingual. Like everyone speaks two languages, you know? And it just an assumption that when someone looks at you as a person of color, they immediately assume you don't speak English fluently or things like that. I was on the PR team at that time and I was like, are you kidding me right now? So it's been a huge learning journey and you know, I feel like there's so much opportunity and space right now. Issues need to be addressed. Like we can't just sweep it under the rug. Like we need to give the community a voice and be real with each other so that change can happen.
Heather Newman: Absolutely. I agree with you 100% so, so you're a busy gal with a lot of demands and how do you unplug? Where do you, where do you, how do you unplug?
Shona Bang: I love hiking trips. So going out into the nature, just kind of unplugging from technology and you know, a good spa day never hurts. I go to the spa and like sometimes I drag Anna with me, I'd be like, Hey, we need to like seriously unplug and have a self-care day. So that's what we'll do.
Heather Newman: Right. Yeah. Wow. What's the last place you went just for fun?
Shona Bang: Just for fun. Oh my gosh, that's a, that's a good question cause I tend to combine, you know, the work I do with my passion. So I dunno, where did I go? Well I went to the Canadian Rockies with my husband. Yeah, it was fun. We went to see, um, Lake Louise, Banff and just soak in all the nature. I think it's a beautiful time. Oh, we also went up to Vancouver. It's really nice right now in the fall season. We don't get four seasons in Singapore, so that's something I really appreciate.
Heather Newman: Yeah. How long have you been in Seattle?
Shona Bang: Three and a half years.
Heather Newman: Three and a half years. Wow. Okay.
Shona Bang: Time flies.
Heather Newman: Yeah. Right. You blink and a lot of big changes for you, so that's awesome and exciting. Yup. You mentioned husband. That's fun.
Shona Bang: Yeah. Moved across the world, got a brand new job with no PR background and took on a PR job. So anything's possible if you have the right attitude and sponsors and mindset.
Heather Newman: Absolutely. And so will you talk a little bit about um, Ignite, cause that's been a big piece of what you've been working on as of late and there's a giant program. And would you tell our listeners a little bit about what's going on there too?
Shona Bang: Yeah, Ignite has been my life right now. It's 20 days away. So as you can tell we are in full steam ahead mode for it. Um, so I am currently leading the diversity and inclusion track. So kind of the last one I'm doing before I fully pivot over to humans of IT. We have a lot planned and a lot going on for this track. We have over 40 sessions. I think it's like 43 at last count, including breakout sessions, theaters, un-conferences. Um, you know, all the topics range the gamut from parents, parenting and tech or you know, women IT pros or you know, neurodiversity like how was it like living with autism or you know, with a diagnosis, right? Loryan Strandt, one of our MVPs is gonna do a session on that as well, living with ADHD and you know, supercharging your career. So, you know, there's just a lot of topics and you know, we just want to create an opportunity for everybody to be able to add it to their session schedule no matter where they are. Because you have no excuse, right? There's five days. We have sessions going on every single day, including daily empower lunches. On Monday we have a CVP panel, it's called future-proofing against bias in tech. I highly recommend that one. Um, on Wednesday we have Haben Girma who is Harvard law school's first deaf blind graduate. She is talking about how she has overcome adversity to become a disability rights lawyer.
Heather Newman: Wow.
Shona Bang: I feel very excited about that. We're giving away a copy of her book to the first 400 attendees. So West 224 is our room and all the D&I sessions will be on there. So, make sure to mark it in your calendar. And then we also have unconferences. So, the unconferences are a more interactive, hands-on format in a smaller intimate setting. Um, and we really just want to get people to get together and share best practices. Like how do you survive having a job and parenting, you know, full time. Um, well, what are the mistakes you've made in your career as women in tech, right? Like, how do we get past it? How do we help support one another? So plenty of connection opportunities. Um, I always tell people that, you know, at conferences, a lot of sessions are livestreaming recorded, but the community part is something you can't get on demand. You have to make time for it. So be sure to, you know, pace yourself at plenty of time for networking and meeting people because these are the friendships and the connections you'll take away with you long after the event is over.
Heather Newman: Yeah, I agree with that. That's amazing and awesome advice. And I also saw that, uh, the student ambassadors are back in full force and there's, I think two, I think that were last year and that are coming back as well. Is that right?
Shona Bang: Yeah. So two of them were from last year's batch. They will be student advisors to the incoming batch and we've actually expend our student ambassador programs three fold. So we had like five last year, this year we have 15.
Heather Newman: Oh, my goodness.
Shona Bang: Um, so yes, and they are from all the local universities in the Orlando area, so university of central Florida, university of Florida and Valencia college. Um, we're really excited because this gives students a firsthand look at what the tech industry is really like, you know, beyond your textbooks. As you know, it's so different when you go into the industry. You know, we're so excited because a lot of that, the, the ones that we invited last year, they actually came back to Microsoft for their summer internship.
Heather Newman: Oh wow.
Shona Bang: And yeah, so Rachel is one of them, Chantel's our new ambassador this year. She was also a summer intern this past summer. Milena is another one. She's going to be on the Friday panel. So, you know, I think we really want to make sure that they get a chance to see what it's like for themselves right before they graduate and get to see what working in tech is like. How connections can really help them. Finding the right mentors, you know, people to support them. And you know, there's a lot of companies out there, let's be honest, right, the demand for tech talent is huge. So what can we do to help give them, you know, a good set up so that you know, they know we're here for them.
Heather Newman: Yeah, absolutely.
Shona Bang: And then the other one that we're really excited about too is the tech women program. I'm not sure if you've heard about it from last year, Heather.
Heather Newman: Tell me all about it.
Shona Bang: So, we ae actually working with a nonprofit, it's a, it's called Tech Women and they actively sponsor women from developing countries to come to the U S for internships, learning programs and things like that. This year we're sponsoring, um, almost 20 tech women from all different countries. And they will be coming and fully engaging as attendees to see what is it like. We want to connect them with people who can then help amplify their profile. In fact one of them was here last year and she really wanted to be back this year. We've invited her to all Microsoft Tour Paris, cause she is from Algeria, she also speaks French. Um, and we just want to give them that platform to share their story. She's an assistant professor in computer science and outside of her day job she does a lot of volunteering for women in technology. And we also had a really happy story last year. One of the tech women we brought over to Microsoft Ignite, she became a regional director this past year simply because of the, you know, the people she got to meet and they helped to raise her visibility cause she was a CEO of an IOT company doing amazing stuff but nobody knew her. Nobody knew her outside of Algeria. So when she came to a big global conference, she met all these amazing MVPs who are like, Oh, you should absolutely be on this program. And it just happened.
Heather Newman: That's so cool. Yeah, I think so. Like I interviewed all the, um, most of the student ambassadors last year on a podcast and I want to catch them again this year for sure. Especially with Elizabeth and Genevieve and saying, Hey, you know, like what's happened in the last year since you did this? You know? So that's super, super cool.
Shona Bang: Yeah. Some of them are doing really amazing stuff, like one of our student ambassadors actually built prosthetic limbs for her father because there was nothing in the market that could suit his needs. So she just went on and built it. Like that's how amazing it is. In fact I should connect you with her because I think her story is a pretty incredible one.
Heather Newman: Cool, yeah, no, I'd love that. Yeah. I plan to, and I think many of you already know this already, but I will be a computer community reporter at Ignite, so I'm going to be running around and probably.
Shona Bang: Be busy.
Heather Newman: Yeah, running. Catting around the a diversity and inclusion lounge for sure. Cause it's a passion of mine as well. And I've loved, I loved working with you on all of this as well.
Shona Bang: Likewise, get your comfy shoes on.
Heather Newman: I know, right? No, I actually just bought a couple of pairs. So, um, so that I'm ready to go. And um, the pre-day, will you talk a little bit about the pre day?
Shona Bang: Yes. So the pre-day is a full day program. Last year we started from noon, this year we're starting at 8:00 AM.
Heather Newman: Whoo. Okay.
Shona Bang: Yes, we are, you know, having a full day of jam-packed sessions. Just there's so much content we would love to showcase. So it's a full day from 8:00 AM to 7:00 PM and then we have the evening reception. So let me just kind of tell you what is some of the core content we'll be featuring. So, one of them involves a speaker Deena Pierott. She's the founder of iUrban Teams, a nonprofit that helps underrepresented communities gain access to technology, especially youth. Um, I met her at um, a women in tech event in Portland. And she invited me to speak at Starbucks and it's kind of interesting how the full circle has come about. And I was like, your topic is great. And she's actually gonna talk about the intersection of race and gender. That's powerful because a lot of people tend to think of these categories as linear, like you're either a woman or someone of color like that, but no one ever really talks about this, you know, it's an intersection and what that means for people who cut across both those categories. Right. And she's gonna have an amazing panel that we pulled together. There was just a prep call this morning. Um, and everyone's is going to share their true story, you know, like real authentic stories about how, what is it like being a person of color, female or gender non-binary even, and you know, what is the environment that we need to create so that we're all included and have a voice.
Heather Newman: Yeah, absolutely.
Shona Bang: So, that's going to be the full morning part. And then we have Dona Sarkar, of course doing a neuro-diversity as a super power panel. Um, a lot of amazing panelists she's invited to kind of talk about neuro diversity as a whole and how that's not a disability, but really a superpower if managers just know how to work with that, right? To bring out the best in these individuals. And then we port over to another speaker Kyla Mitsunaga, she's a TedTalk speaker and also a published author. We'll be giving away a copy of her book to every attendee as well. Um, she talks about, you know, communication skills with versus at somebody, how to collaborate. And she did a session at Microsoft Ignite Tour Amsterdam last cycle, and she talked about the pursuit of happiness. Like, you know, this is something that's elusive. Her session was packed because I think in tech especially, everyone's trying to look for happiness. Like what is our meaning and purpose here? How do we use our skills for good? And that's just something that she'll be doing in her session. So really looking forward to that. It's going to be great.
Heather Newman: That's cool. Wow. Uh, how, how close are, well ignite is sold out.
Shona Bang: Ignite is sold out, but you can still add the pre-day if you're registered. I think we have a couple of seats left. If people do want to join in, um, it's not too late, just do it ASAP. And then for the evening reception, we have, you know, um, our DJ from last year, she's a violinist who also does deejaying together. I don't know. It sounds amazing.
Heather Newman: She was awesome. Yeah.
Shona Bang: Yeah. We invited her back. Oh, we also have a Disney caricaturist who's going gonna draw your superhero alter ego. Not even kidding we hired the caricaturist from Disney.
Heather Newman: That's fantastic. Why not? Yeah. Last year it was a calligraphist. Right. Um, that was, and you could give any quote and yeah, it was, so that was, I still, I have mine, I'm looking at it, it's on my bookshelf over there.
Shona Bang: Me too. We loved that. But I think this year wanted to do something different and just have people think about what will your alter ego be if you weren't afraid, you know?
Heather Newman: Mmhm, yeah, no, absolutely. And I bet I'm, I'm sure that there's going to be some lovely giveaways and fun stuff like that too. Those are always pretty, pretty yummy from, uh, uh, from what I see from what we had last year. So
Shona Bang: I have to tell you this year's like top giveaway is going to be a custom Lego set called the modern inclusive workplace. So I custom designed, it to me three months. Yes. And we have limited sets that we'll give away. There's an interactive game at the humans of it lounge, it's called the humans of IT race, kind of a play on the word human race and it's an interactive, um, AR VR game. And you would form a team of four, go to that game lounge and you have to race like with your arms, so that's inclusive of, you know, people who are in wheelchairs, they can participate as well. Um, the, the, the top five teams with the fastest timing per day will get this limited edition Lego set.
Heather Newman: That's fantastic. Oh, I can't wait to see it. That is,
Shona Bang: Oh, you have to win it, Heather. Get your shoes on.
Heather Newman: I know. I'm like, yeah, really. I'm like, yeah, well we'll see if I get in there, I'm going to be running around a little bit. But yeah. Oh that's so cool. It's not, I mean, it just, it keeps building, you know, which is so wonderful and thank you for all your beautiful work that you've done on this, uh, with the teams and, and in conjunction with the events teams. It's really cool to see and it's really cool to see how the entire, all of Microsoft, you know, just from the global D&I perspective from the IT pro community and everybody coming together to really put a lot of these issues, mental health, burnout, you know, tech and intersectionality, all of these things out in the forefront for all of us to talk about together. You know, creating that belonging that we all really want. Right?
Shona Bang: Yeah, we love it. I think, you know, Ignite, it's kind of like a one big party, you know, you think like everyone around the world coming together and just really celebrating this amazing community. Like you're a part of community, Heather. Like, I love the tech community just cause there's so many passionate people doing amazing things and you know, the one time in a year where we all get together and just celebrate each other.
Heather Newman: Yeah, absolutely. It's, and it's huge, you know, and, and so much of it is also, you know, those who can't come, you know, there's somebody was saying, you know, don't have FOMO. And I was like, you know, there's probably some people who have what JOMO like the joy of missing out cause they're going to get to watch in their bathrobes, and not having hurt, hurting feet. Um, but you know, yeah, it is a big wonderful event and a, it's going to be awesome. So I also, you know, so um, growing up in Singapore, I wanted to track back to that for a second and you know, for you growing up there, um, how, how did, how did you get like the, like into like the decision for tech for you?
Shona Bang: Oh, you mean like when I graduated, how to I decided to join tech? That's an interesting story. Like, I was going to join a cosmetics company cause I participated in marketing challenge. And they were like, yeah, you should join us. And I told my dad, my dad's a long time IBM executive, way that when he's now retired. But he was the one who told me like, why would you join a company? And you know, like why would you join a company that doesn't directly work in tech because when you do work in tech, you get to influence every other industry out there. And that just like really sunk in for me. And I felt like, wow, like that's true. Like I could be at the forefront and helping build solutions that will impact every organization no matter where you are. Um, and that's not to say there's anything wrong with working in any specific industry. But I just personally love being in tech because we're at the forefront of cutting technology and we get to help have a say in what, what gets built, you know, how do we use our solutions. How do we communicate that to people. And it's just been so rewarding for me. I feel like I'm learning something new every day. And the biggest draw for in tech for me that I think would apply to most people is that no matter where you are on this journey, you can always join in because tech is always evolving. You're never too late to join tech.
Heather Newman: Yeah, agreed. I mean, if I can teach my mom how to use Instagram, anything can happen, you know?
Shona Bang: Right. Or be like the tech support back home with everybody, no matter what your role is.
Heather Newman: Oh yeah, absolutely. The phones and the printers and everything get shoved my way. But I'm sure that's any of us in tech for sure.
Shona Bang: I know, I'll be like, I don't work in that area, but okay, fine. I'll try. I'm sure I can help you pair your Bluetooth to your laptop.
Heather Newman: Absolutely. Oh my God. That's funny. Well, so my last question is always, you know, a what if, what, what's that spark or a moment or person or you know, that really got you to be where you are today. If you can pinpoint one that you would share with our listeners.
Shona Bang: I think, you know, I want to say there isn't one specific person. I think there's always been a group of people just throughout my life and career so far that have really helped me. I think if I trace it way back when, like when I was in high school, I remember one of my teachers that the biggest thing he said was, there are many routes to the same path. So you know, there's not one way to success. Like there's so many ways you can get there, right? And nobody has a fixed path. Like your life is always evolving and you just don't know what's going to happen. You just have to make the most of it and just be earnest and sincere when you live. That's something that I've always taken throughout my career. When I think about, you know, what is the thing that I want to do? I want to do something with purpose, with meaning. I want to leave a good impact on society, right? We need to leave the world a better place than when we first found it. It's one of my personal mantras too. But you know, like starting out in Microsoft, I joined Microsoft through their graduate program so back when it was called the mock program, I think some people might be familiar. Um, I had an amazing manager back then who really believed in me. And when I said like hey, you know, I love Singapore, but I've been born and raised here. I think I'm ready to go onto a global stage and do something like large, like massive scale. He was so supportive, like every time we had a business trip he would send me and be like, Hey, go there, go meet people, go find the connections you need to make it work. And like it did, it paid off and you know, when I came here, you know, doing a job that was really hard. Like I didn't know anybody when I first moved here. You know, I have to learn everything from scratch, build a network, build a community. Um, you know, it's kind of ironic like coming to a place where I had no community and then building one.
Heather Newman: Your DIY, DIY community,
Shona Bang: Right? Like the number of people I knew in Seattle was like, I could count with one hand. Literally, um, and you know, coming here and getting to meet so many people since I will say Twitter is a huge help. Um, I wasn't even a big Twitter user way back when, like it's not a big thing in Singapore, but apparently everyone in the U S here is huge on Twitter.
Heather Newman: Yup.
Shona Bang: One time I asked my husband like, why does everyone in the U S have like so many things to say? And we didn't want to say it publicly, but I see, I see value in it. I think there's a whole reason why, because you know, it's a platform, right? It's, it's a way to share your voice, your principles and meet tons of people from there. Um, so yeah, I think, you know, having managers that are supportive, and right now my manager, Jeff, shout out to Jeff, he's probably gonna listen to this, cause he listens to all our content.
Heather Newman: And he's awesome.
Shona Bang: You know, he's, yeah, he's been so supportive, you know, in terms of, you know, working through the repivoting and transition and really supporting what we need to do, right. To make this real and authentic for our community. I think this team, if anything, and you've worked with many of us, Heather, you know, our team loves the community. We love people. And the work that we do, like we, it's draining. I mean, it's exhausting, but we get energy from it because we know the people who will benefit from it. And that's what we're here for. We're here for all of you.
Heather Newman: Yeah, no, that's uh, yeah, I mean, all of you and you, you're so effervescent, you know, and just so passionate and, yeah, no, it's true. And everybody who works on that team is that way as well. And I, you know, I'm not going to speak for the entire community, but I'm going to say thank you, but I'm going to say thank you because when, when we all talk about it, that's what we talk about is the passion and the goodness and yeah, we, I mean, it's about helping each other. And, and trying to figure out stuff together. And I think we do, we all do that really well and you all lead so well and listen too, you know, um, and that's a big part of it, you know?
Shona Bang: Yes. Team effort and, you know, I think there's just so much we can learn from each other. I would say maybe connecting people is one of my superpowers. I should write that down somewhere. What's your super power? Right. Everybody has superpowers.
Heather Newman: Yeah, definitely. I, yeah, I think, you know, for me, connecting is one of them for sure. And, and just sort of being able to sort of understand people fairly quickly, you know? Um, I think that's my background in theater.
Shona Bang: And you're a good listener.
Heather Newman: Yeah. I try, you know, I, that was something I work on deep listening, you know, sometimes you need to just be quiet, you know, and take it in.
Shona Bang: Yeah, actually, take it in, not just kind of letting it just swish by you. I think that's a huge skill that's getting lost today. Right? Everyone's like bombard information all the time. But you know, taking time to really process what people are saying and internalize it and come up with a thoughtful response. That's a huge, like humans of IT skill.
Heather Newman: for sure. For sure. We're going to have to get more buttons so you know,
Shona Bang: Oh yeah. I'm all buttoned Out. Like I'm telling everybody, no more buttons cause we ordered it like 40,000 buttons. It's the last cycle. I have had enough of buttons. We made it digital so we partnered with this artist, you can go to AKA Dot MS slash diversity superpower. You can have your own AR filter with the button wall.
Heather Newman: That's right. That's awesome. I'm looking at the ones on my refrigerator right now, so I have mine up for sure. So that was a cool, cool thing last year. So, awesome, yay. Well you are, like I said, an effervescent force of nature and I love working with you and I love talking to you. So I really, Shona, I appreciate you coming on the show today and sharing all of that of what's coming on, uh, for Ignite and humans of IT. It's so exciting. So thank you so much for coming.
Shona Bang: Thank you! And we'll see you in Orlando.
Heather Newman: Yes, I will see you soon with bells on, as they say. So thanks so much.
Shona Bang: Thanks Heather. Talk soon.
Heather Newman: Alright, you're welcome. Folks, that has been another episode of the Mavens Do It Better podcast, and here's to a big beautiful day on this blue spinning sphere. Thanks.