Shilpa Lawande’s Letter to her young self

Dear me,

You don’t know me (yet) but I am you from 25 years into your future. You will be amazed to know that the world today is flat, we all carry powerful computers with an “app for everything” in our pockets and people of your age almost don’t call each other by phone – they “text”, “tweet”, “like” and “Skype”. Life is rich with iPods, iPads, fitbits and kindle books and but some things haven’t changed! There is nothing better than a hug from a child, a home-cooked meal and a walk on the beach on a warm summer day!

Now listen, I know that you just started your first computer science course today. First of all, great choice. Programming is an essential skill for anyone today and a solid education in computer science will give you the edge. As you look around, you are the only girl in your class, surrounded by guys who sound like geniuses, some who already know coding and you are wondering if this is for you… Sadly, even today, there are fewer women computer scientists than men but that’s no reason to quit.

Did you know that the world’s first programmer was Ada Lovelace, a woman who invented many of the programming concepts you are learning today?

In 25 years you will have been part of a most exciting startup adventure developing a product used by hundreds of companies!! Today, there are awesome organizations like Science Club for Girls and Girls who Code that are working hard to help more girls turn into scientists and engineers. Women are CEOs of some of the largest technology companies in the world.

And here’s the most important thing – you keep at it because I know you will be good at it, and I know you will love it! And in case you are wondering if you will grow up to be a lonely workaholic computer geek, far from it! You live in the United States with your husband and two beautiful children who fill your life with joy and laughter and you are always connected to your friends and family around the world, thanks to technology.

So don’t think twice, look ahead to your bright future – consider yourself a pioneer like Ada, a trail blazer, and one girl at a time, we geek girls will own the future of technology!

Remember to work hard and don’t forget to have fun!

Cheers,
Shilpa (via a wormhole near you)

p.s. Transporters haven’t been invented yet or I would have visited in person. Say hello to dad and thank him everyday for urging you to choose computer science!

******************
Shilpa Lawande is Vice President of Engineering for HP Vertica. She manages a team of great engineers and computer scientists, who build software that helps companies analyze massive amounts of data. Vertica is used by companies like Facebook, Twitter, Guess, Comcast, Zynga and Disney to better understand their users habits and to improve their products. Recently, Conservation International used Vertica in its Earth Insights project to study the impact of human beings on natural habitats for wildlife.

Shilpa studied Computer science at Indian Institute of Technology in Mumbai, India – the only girl in her class! She came to the US about 18 years ago for graduate studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Shilpa lives in Massachusetts with her husband and children, aged 3 and 1. Besides being a gadget geek, a trekkie and an amateur astronomer, Shilpa loves the outdoors – hiking, kayaking, sailing and fly fishing! Among her miscellaneous accomplishments – author of 3 books on database software, hiked all 48 of the 4000 footers in New Hampshire, and voted to her 3-year-old’s “best friend” list, the Mass Women to Watch list in 2012 and 20 Technical Leaders who could be Future Fortune 500 CTOs list in 2013!

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