Diversity in Tech Roundup at ESPC18 – Butterflies, Core Skills and Building Your Insider Program

When I met Dona Sarkar a couple of years ago she was wearing a gorgeous monarch butterfly patterned dress, I asked where she got it, and she said, I made it. I was impressed and inspired by her from the moment we met. Dona is a software engineer, highly technical, a creative and someone who decides to learn how to sew, goes to fashion school and then decides to bring designing into AI, 3D and creates a virtual runway fashion show having worked on Microsoft HoloLens. That’s her, an alchemist who blends and blurs lines, continually leveling up in the worlds of technology, fashion, and writing. Dona Sarkar is Chief Ninja Cat, Window Insider Program. Dona is one to follow, you can find her here on Twitter and Instagram, and I highly recommend you join the Windows Insider program for all the goodness she and the team put out there.   

WIT Lunch

 Before her rockstar Diversity in Tech lunch keynote with Jeremiah Marble, Director of Developer Marketing for Windows, I had the pleasure of sharing the stage with the amazing Karuana Gatimu, Principal Program Manager, Microsoft Teams to talk about how Microsoft views Global Diversity & Inclusion for a few moments. Thank you to the ESPC team for having me back to support this wonderful program. 


The European SharePoint Conference started its Women in Tech (now Diversity in Tech) lunches a few years ago, and I had the privilege of keynoting both Stockholm and Vienna. Karuana was last year’s awesome keynote in Dublin, and this year Dona took it to the next level bringing the knowledge from her eight, yes, eight books to the table, and having Jeremiah as her “sample use case” in building one’s brand. 

Dona’s talk, Spin Your Tale, The Fiction Writers’ Guide To Telling Your Story centered around one’s brand and how you are seen in the world, noting, “when you cannot find it online, it didn’t happen.” And that you do not want to be the unfound book on Amazon. So, control your brand, or it will control you. For the world to know who you are, what you do and what you are passionate about you need to tell the story, your story. Your brand will build itself if you don’t curate and guide it.  

 I love these moments where we come together for what many call “softer skills” – diversity, leadership, mentoring, networking, and presentation skills. I don’t believe that the list above are “soft” – to me they are more “core,” the center of who we are, what we do and how we show ourselves to the world. Without them we can’t grow, evolve, heal and do our best work.  

Diversity sessions at the Community Area

Karuana (who also runs the Coffee in the Cloud You Tube channel for Microsoft Teams) and I held a Diversity in Tech Workshop trifecta of topics this year at ESPC. Each day of the conference we tackled the subjects of leadership, mentoring and networking in the Community Theater on the show floor. It was terrific to connect with our attendees on those subjects, and we are excited to ramp up this programming for next year in Prague. 

Dona’s keynote

Dona was also our day three keynote, Be The Lord of Your Own Rings – showcasing how to run your own “Insider Program” within your organization. She went through how to use data-backed decisions to be confident you’re ready for the next version of Windows (and other products).  

She showed tools that the team hasn’t released publicly yet with examples directly from the insiders from the Windows Insider program and how creating tech heroes is something every organization can do.  

Dona went through a top ten of ways to run your insider program. Dona was a large part of the Diversity in Tech program during Microsoft Ignite sharing the stage again during her sessions, Model 47 for business: Transcending culture to solve real-world problems with Jeremiah and two of her Windows Insider tech heroes, Eddie Leonard, Systems Engineer Consultant, Assistant Vice President, First Citizens Bank, and Paul Warren. Senior Technical Specialist on Project Liberate at Auckland Council shown in the photo below. 

Share your stage

The Windows Insider program not only gives you access to pre-release information and a community, but it is a blueprint that you can you for your organization to get ahead of issues, connect, communicate and learn from your customers/insiders. I loved this talk so much I will be starting a Content Panda Insiders group for my software business.  

The Steps


Dona is also the co-founder of the fashion blog Fibonacci Sequins which she calls “the world’s first style blog devoted to STEM fans.” She has published many books; I love this one – #DoTheThing: Because Comfort Zones are Boring, you can follow her author page here 

I’m looking forward to seeing what Dona comes up with next blending culture, fashion, technology and excellent business practices for moving the needle on businesses forward through deep connection, communication and sharing stories.  

Connect with Dona, the Windows Insider team and tell them your story: 

@donasarkar @windowsinsider and @officeinsider on Twitter http://aka.ms/m365insiders  

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