Unity was a proud sponsor of the 2019 Grace Hopper Celebration
We had an amazing time at #GHC19. Read on to discover our favorite moments from the event, what inspired our team the most, and a few pieces of advice for women entering the tech world.
Grace Hopper Celebration (GHC) is the “world’s largest gathering of women technologists.” Every year, over 25,000 people meet to celebrate the achievements of women in computing. It’s a great place for attendees to network, see new faces, build a stronger sense of community, and learn from some of the brightest women in the tech space.
Over 20 Unity employees traveled to Orlando, Florida to attend this year’s celebration from October 1–4. We connected with more than 700 women and allies from around the globe, attended sessions across a wide array of topics and interests, recruited top talent to Unity, and most importantly, felt inspired by the brilliance and success that this conference attracts.
From Unity-curated speaking sessions presented by Natalie Burke and Timoni West to our recruiting booth in the Career Fair, there were plenty of highlights to share.
Natalie Burke presented “Cultivating careers: Experiences as a technical artist” as a part of the career track.
“My talk was about the field of technical art,” Natalie explains. “Many people who attended my presentation had never heard about the field, and my hope is that they left with a better understanding of the sort of work a technical artist can do. Another major takeaway was that there are jobs, such as technical art, that incorporate both art and technology – you don’t have to give up a love for the arts to be in STEM.”
Timoni West moderated the session “The future is augmented: Our AR journey and what it means for humans,” featuring a panel of outstanding leaders in their respective fields.
Alongside Aleissia Laidacker (director of Developer Experience at Magic Leap), Kayla Kinnunen (principal program manager of Mixed Reality Business Applications at Microsoft), Silka Miesnieks (head of Emerging Design at Adobe), and Lydia Choy (lead designer and engineer and cofounder of Oculus Medium), Timoni West, Unity’s director of XR and Labs examined the systems, infrastructure, and tools that are needed to make spatial computing a reality. The talk aimed to see attendees walk away understanding that:
- Augmented reality is not just limited to head-mounted displays (HMDs) — it’s about all computing devices working together holistically.
- This shift in computers as sensor-driven devices has many components, from the tooling to the data layer to treating the end user as an entity with developer-class permissions.
- If you do development work for computers, you are, or will soon be, part of this new era of distributed computing.
Both experienced and first-time GHC-goers from Unity share their favorite moments from the show.
“It was really inspiring to see all the incoming young talent in engineering. My favorite part was definitely talking to all of the many young women who are interested in Unity and very passionate about the gaming industry. Many of them have worked on or are working on their own games, which I thought was really cool.” – Rachel Ah Chuen, data scientist, Ads
“It is always exciting to see the growth in the number of female engineers that come to Grace Hopper each year. With 25,000 attendees this year, I was amazed by the amount of talent and potential in the tech community.” – Aniqa Kamal, backend engineer, Monetization
“This was my first time attending Grace Hopper Celebration, and it was an amazing experience. It was incredibly encouraging to learn about so many organizations and opportunities run by women that use technology to improve the world. It was also an incredible honor to be able to share my own experiences in my tech field for others who are early in their careers and just learning about all the different paths that they have open in front of them.” – Natalie Burke, technical artist, Graphics
Timoni and Natalie shared their best advice for women interested in breaking into the tech world
“Everything about the world is ‘tech’ these days. Everything is connected because technology is becoming a part of everything. I actually think there will be no way to avoid being in the tech world in the future… that it will just be the world! My advice is not to think of tech as a silo, something that has to be separate from other interests. Technology is something that can enhance other passions and interests, and finding ways to combine these makes you a more unique, interesting, and desirable member of the tech world.” – Natalie Burke, technical artist, Graphics
“I have a couple: (1) Everyone is on some level an imposter. Pay attention to how people tell the stories of themselves, and see if it matches up to what you think the job should entail; you’ll start to see the differences. This will also help you learn what it really takes to do the job, vs what your perceptions are.
(2) If you’re a junior or mid-level and someone else is repeating your ideas in a meeting in a way that leaves you cold, you can fix this. Ask them to clarify the difference between their idea and your own; thank them for repeating your idea and add that you have additional details; or explain how the language may be different but the core ideas are the same. Get in the habit of viewing these meetings as a conversation, rather than feeling like you only have one chance to get people to listen to you.
(3) The more you know, the better off you are. This is true of technical chops, but also things like how and why people act, what motivates or triggers them, and, in general, why things are the way they are. (See Chesterton’s fence.) – Timoni West, director of XR and Labs
The energy and excitement of attendees around the possibilities of tech and organizer AnitaB.org’s commitment to changing the face of the industry inspired us all. We can’t wait to be a part of this moment again next year.