At Codess, we are in the privileged position of meeting inspiring women from all corners of globe, all treading very different but irreplaceable career paths in the technology industry. We’re here to champion, celebrate and share their stories so that others can feel the motivation to pursue their own paths and encourage their peers to do the same.
One such woman who is doing just that is Microsoft’s Principle Project Manager, Shomila Malik. We met Shomila a number of years ago at one of our famed Codess events and knew almost immediately she was exactly the right fit for Microsoft. Through Codess, Shomila was not only able to secure a role at one of her favoured employers (Microsoft) but was also able to realise her dream of moving to Silicon Valley! We spoke to Shomila about Microsoft, the role that Codess played in helping her achieve more from her professional life and what it means to work in technology.
Our Interview with Shomila
Hey Shomila, so… you’re pretty established in your career now as Microsoft’s Principle Project Manager, but you must have started somewhere – when did you first discover that twinge of interest in technology?
I get asked this a lot and to be honest there was no lightbulb moment. I didn’t show early signs of being an engineer in the way you hear from other people – like wanting to take apart computers or knowing how a radio works at the age of 4 (I met people like this on my first day of my degree!).
However, I was pretty good at Maths and Science and someone suggested Electronic Engineering because it was all about ‘making small things’ so I thought it would be quite cool to do something so different.
I realised early on in my degree that it was an amazing subject to study and I instantly loved Computer Science and writing programs that made something happen. The feeling that I had created a program and could see it work in a matter of seconds was amazing to me.
Amazing! It must have been really inspiring to find something that just ‘fit’ in to your passions so easily. What was it that attracted you to a network such as Codess?
I received a message through LinkedIn from Alexa Marenghi at Codess who said she was arranging an event for female executives in the industry. I was at a time in my life where I felt I needed to network and encourage more girls into the field.
What was your first ever Codess event like?
The first thing that struck me was how well organised they were and how much investment Microsoft and Skype had made to make the event a success. Great speakers and great location – it felt really special.
You now work at Microsoft… what hand did Codess play in helping you secure your job?
After I attended my first event, I was asked back to join a panel specifically aimed at female graduates of Computer Science. I was given so much support to make sure I prepared for the event. This isn’t always the case, believe me!
I’ve been to plenty of events as a panelist or speaker and not given any prep information beforehand. After that event, I was asked if I was interested in joining Skype. I told them what I was interested in doing in my next career move – including wanting to move to Silicon Valley! A few months later… they got in touch saying a suitable opportunity had come about!
Incredible – so inspiring to see what an influential role Codess came to play in your life! What’s it been like working at Microsoft so far?
Amazing to be honest. I have always worked at large companies – IBM, Financial Times, O2/Telefonica and it’s hard to on-board employees well but I was impressed at how quickly I could integrate. I am a Principal Product Manager based in Palo Alto for some innovative new projects that Skype are building which includes Skype Bots and Translator.
It’s an absolutely amazing time to be part of the industry and I can’t think of a better place to be than Microsoft and Skype right now. I moved with my husband and 2 daughters (aged 8 and 10) so it was quite a big change for all of us. I’m so grateful for my family for supporting and encouraging me to do this.
We couldn’t agree more! Do you think that initiatives such as Codess play an important part in spreading this message?
Absolutely! Initiatives like Codess can add a lot of other value too…it opened up my network at a global level.
We think it’s incredibly important to promote inclusion within the tech industry, what would you say to an aspiring female engineer who was worried she may not “fit in” to a technology role?
I would say that there is no perfect fit for a person in a technology role. It’s easy to think you have to be a certain fit or look and behave a certain way for any job role but now we are see that people are changing those notions – slowly but surely.
We believe establishing a work-life balance is key to being happy in your career. What passions do you have outside of work?
I’ve loved being outdoors more since we moved to California and we’ve started hiking as a family which is great, as I’m not usually the kind of person who goes to a gym unless I really have to!
Thank you for giving us an insight into your life! One final question as a parting gift…if you had had to give one piece of advice for aspiring engineers and programmers, what would it be?
Stick to your principles and if people think some of your ideas are crazy, you’re probably onto something!
Thanks so much Shomila. I’m sure you’ve gone a long way to inspiring our engineers of the future and your story is truly incredible.
Find out more
If you, like Shomila, are ready to take the next step in your engineering career, why not get in touch with us at Codess? We can help you land that dream job or provide you with important advice and support to make the next jump as easy as possible. Who knows, you might just end up working in Silicon Valley and working at Microsoft!