The Grace Hopper Celebration: Together We Build

Grace Hopper was a pioneer in the tech field and an inspiration to many women in tech. She was a US rear admiral, earned a Ph.D., in Mathematics from Yale University, was a professor of mathematics at Vassar and invented the COBOL programming language, earning her the nickname “Grandma COBOL.”

Hopper is famous for many witty and insightful phrases throughout her career. She’s quoted in saying, “You don’t manage people; you manage things. You lead people.” So, it only makes sense that sessions and networking opportunities at the annual Grace Hopper Celebration afford attendees with the knowledge and skills to become great leaders in their fields, build connections, and develop careers. The theme of this year’s virtual Grace Hopper Celebration, which takes place on September 26, September 29 – October 3, is “Together we build.”

I sat down with Cathy An, Program Manager, Customer Care Operations at Genesys, for her insight and key takeaways from the 2019 Grace Hopper Celebration.

What was your biggest takeaway from Grace Hopper 2019?

Cathy An: My biggest takeaway from GHC2019 was a quote that I saw. I don’t recall the exact wording but was about how seeing is believing. How can young girls believe that they can grow up to be a president, a firefighter, a policeman, a technologist when they grow up seeing only men in those positions? This is something that is fundamental to our youth and bringing them into STEM and other opportunities. We cannot let our past generations misses, faults and gaps define the future generations.

Why did you attend Grace Hopper and how does this conference stand out from others?

Cathy: I wanted to attend GHC to experience the largest women technologist conference in the world. Being from MD, where the Naval academy is right around the corner, Grace Hopper was someone who I grew up learning about and looking up to. Seeing how she’s motivated and influenced so many women technologist was really amazing to me. It was also my first conference where females were the majority and, let me tell you, the vibe and tone of each session was very warm and welcoming. Everyone was there to bounce ideas off and help each other while networking. You can truly feel different people from all sorts of different backgrounds that have faced the similar problems that many women face. And 2019 was the largest Grace Hopper Celebration of all time.

What got you interested in technology and/or working for a software company?

Cathy: I wanted to work for a company that was fast-paced and always challenging. Out of the career options from graduation, this company and working in technology was exactly what I was looking for.

There’s a lot of room for professional growth at Genesys. Tell us about your experiences.

Cathy: I am actually now in my fourth role at Genesys — and reaching about five years of being here. I entered the company through a new graduate program for sales and was able to navigate my career toward a more technical role as I desired. Now I manage a team of technical project managers running transformational projects for several hundreds of engineers and analysts in Global Customer Care.

What advice do you have for anyone attending the Grace Hopper Celebration virtually this year?

Cathy: Technical people should try attending non-technical sessions and visa-versa. Don’t be scared to take a leap and learn.

Building Tomorrow’s Leaders  

Grace Hopper famously said, “The most dangerous phrase in the language is, ‘We’ve always done it this way’.”

As a sponsor of the Grace Hopper Celebration, Genesys is investing in finding new ways to innovate and cultivate great leaders in tech. We invest in developing the technical talent of women within the company so they can build their skillsets and accelerate their careers. And we know that attendees of the Grace Hopper Celebration will bring back new and different ideas for doing things – and lead others to do the same. Read our other blogs about the Grace Hopper Celebration.