Roopali Agrawal | Anupama Sarohe | Parul Ahuja | Samiksha Chugh | Suruchi Sinha | Ridhi Lnu | Yevhenii Stephanov | Umangi Oza
We at Expedia Group “relentlessly strive for better” and 2018 was certainly a year of better for us. We are on a mission to make ourselves a more diverse and inclusive place every day. With our continued efforts, Expedia Group India decided to participate in prestigious Grace Hopper Celebrations India (“GHCI”), the largest technical conference for women in Asia, for the very first time and it was a fantastic, inspiring & humbling experience for us. Around mid-year, when we decided to participate in the conference, we set two clear objectives for ourselves – inward & outward facing:
- Inward Facing – A source of inspiration for our employees by providing access to role models, success and failure stories of thought leaders in the industry along with a platform for networking & exposure to all cool tech things in the world.
- Outward Facing – To establish our tech brand & connect with amazing talent.
With those two clear objectives, we pulled up a crack team of 28 women with diverse background & varied experience levels. The team was set on a mission – “Inspire & Get Inspired.” Soon we started working on a close collaboration with GHCI team, booth design, collaboration with the vendor, swag, dress codes (You read that right), flight & hotel bookings, etc. We arranged gatherings for this team to get together, socialise, and plan and enthusiasm slowly started to build up. Our participation in the event was planned fairly well including all minute details.
Even with all the preparations, we had few logistic issues at the 11th hour like getting swag to Bangalore from Gurgaon. This team of 28 amazing women came together & volunteered to carry those 13-14 KG of swag per head with them. It was heartening to see how a common goal united this team and how this team exhibited ‘One Team, Group First’, one of the core guiding principles of Expedia Group.
With all the preparations, hard work and enthusiasm, our team was set to make a mark at the conference.
The conference started at a high energy note. The hall for the keynote was gigantic and it was overwhelming to see 4000+ technical women from 411 organisations,90 cities & 12 countries under one roof. GHCI was officially kicked off with a great message – “Life is a one-time opportunity. Dare to dream and live your dream.” Thought leaders from the industry shared reflections from their career journeys and we were reminded that we, as women, needed to have confidence in our own capabilities, speak up, raise our hand, sit at the table, invest in our own self, ask for help and support each other, celebrate motherhood with right prioritisation & support system. Keynote was concluded with – “There is a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.” – Madeleine Albright
Behind the scenes, Expedia Group’s booth had come out live with a ‘travel’ based theme. Our crack team didn’t miss an opportunity to show its ‘Bias to Action’ when it came to setup of booth. This amazing team of women cleaned, setup and brought the booth to life themselves. We participated in a networking event later in the evening, that worked as a confidence booster for us as we had to list down the reasons “Why I am remarkable” and share it aloud, something we do shy from.
Day 2 provided us ample opportunity to attend sessions across various tracks like Artificial Intelligence & High-Performance Computing, Design in Tech, Platform Engineering, Career 360, Speed Mentoring and iConnect sessions. Narrowing down on sessions was hard as we didn’t want to skip a single one. At the same time, our booth at the career fair was buzzing with energy and talent. It was heartening & overwhelming to have so many visitors interested to talk to us and understand more about Expedia Group. Registration method at our booth exhibited our guiding principle ‘Simplify’. We asked visitors to specify their dream destination along with their basic contact details. The moment we explained the concept of ‘Dream Destination’ to candidates – a place where you would love to travel, anywhere in the world – we saw a smile on each and every face while imagining about their dream destination. Such is the power of ‘travel’ and one of the reasons why we all love to be part of Expedia Group. It was rewarding to see that smile on those faces and those faces lit up even brighter when they saw their names flashing on big TV screen along with their dream destination pinned. Our swags, passport covers with Expedia Group’s logo, were also received very well as it was ‘unique’ and resonated with our theme.
We were a unique booth that was run by all women from diverse backgrounds. We were able to talk in languages of HR, Tech, Testing, Business, Management, Leadership and most importantly we were able to offer the human touch & connect to the amazing talent out there. The environment at the booth was almost infectious and magnetic.
We got an opportunity to experience ‘Tech Expo’, ‘Poster Session’,’iConnect’ & ‘Speed Mentoring’ along with a flash mob, that charged up the whole environment to a different level. With hours passing by, it was almost the time for us to wrap up and we all started working on a mental list of things that we need to do ‘better’ next year like presenting tech talks, showcasing the tech from Expedia Group, and participation in the tech expo. Panel discussions were definitely on top of everyone’s mind along with an attention grabber like a flash mob. We closed the conference at the mark of whopping 2500 registrations at our booth – 55% of total participation at the conference. By all standards, for a first-time experience, we had made our mark.
Our participation in GHCI united this diverse crack team in a very special way. We are certainly more confident, connected, motivated to live our dreams and determined to make a bigger impact at the conference next year. It’s just the beginning…