Monday, October 25, 2010

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Quote from Duy-Loan T. Le, Texas Instrument Senior Fellow

On collaboration across boundaries she pointed out: "The first collaboration you have to do is to collaborate with yourself and the first boundary you have to cross over is your personal boundary which is your personal limitations. Do not let your personal limitations cloud your vision".

Very inspiring....

Comparing Leadership Styles of Duy-Loan T. Le and Laura Haas

In her keynote speech, Duy-Loan T. Le (Texas Instrument Senior Fellow) mentioned that face to face communication is important in building a relationship. She told a story of her went to Japan to train engineers for a new product. She was still 22 years old at that time (she is just 47 this year!)
When the first time she met the engineers – who were (not surprisingly) all men, she saw a shock in the engineers’ faces. She believed it was because she was a woman, and also because she was very young compare to them. At that time Japanese women were rarely found in the work place.
They did not expect the trainer would be a woman, and they could not tell it just by looking at her Vietnamese name. Days passed by without effective training going on because of the gender and age gap issues. Then at one point she decided to take a different approach.
She decided to spend some days to just talk to all the guys; talked about everything except work: family, hobbies, favorite books, movies, …. you name it. This was the time when she started getting respect from her trainees. Now they could see each other differently from what they did when the first time they met. They developed trust, friendship, and deep respect. Later, they managed to successfully collaborate for a long time.
The point she wanted to emphasize was relationship building requires communication. And in this context, she – as the trainer, i.e. the leader of the trainees, initiated an open communication with her subordinates.
The above situation was in contrast to Laura Haas’ situation. Mrs. Haas is a director of computer science at IBM Almaden, who won the Anita Borg Technical Leadership Award 2010. She said when it is the time for her to start on a new project, she does not really care who leads whom, she just focuses on the goal.
I would love to hear more about her opinion regarding the leader’s role in relationship building but her speech was short. She did not elaborate more since it was an award winning speech, which is clearly not a keynote speech like the one Mrs. Le delivered. I just assume that she did not really bother with all the chit chat mumbo jumbo, when she has to deal with others.
Looking at these two approaches, they are indeed very different. In fact, they are opposite to each other. But each has been proven to be successful in the hands of these two amazing women. I think there is no right or wrong choice in how to build an effective relationship to support collaborations. It depends on your personality, the situation, and the people you are dealing with. Mrs. Le might have needed to take the personal approach since she dealt with those who were culturally different from her who were even though Vietnamese born (so she’s as Asian as the Japanese) but grew up in USA. On the other hand, when delivering her speech, Mrs. Haas might refer to experiences when she dealt with people that did not really need any personal approach to establish collaboration with. The kind of people that Mrs. Le mentioned as the people with whom you have developed trust, friendship, and deep respect for each other – hence an intense personal approach can be skipped.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Quote from Yahoo's CEO!

"Dont think of success as a ladder that you need to climb- ladders are shaky and tend to fall down. Think of it as a Pyramid- build your basic foundations and steadily rise to the top."

- Carol Bartz.

posted by Vaidehi.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Key Note by Barbara Liskov

Barbara Liskov, Institute Professor at MIT, received the 2008 Turing Award for her innovations to designing and building the computer systems and her achievements in programming language design that have made software more reliable and easier to maintain.  Liskov opened her talk by commenting that receiving the Turing Award had given her an opportunity to reflect on her meandering career path and the work that she has done.

Liskov grew up in San Franciso in the 1950s. She went to UC Berkeley, became a math major, despite being one of very few women in her classes.  After her undergraduate work, Liskov didn't feel ready for graduate school, so she moved to Boston and was offered a job as a programmer at the MITRE Corp.  She learned FORTRAN, and discovered she really liked programming.  After a year, she moved to Harvard and worked on their language translation project.  This was during the period of great optimism about artificial intelligence. Liskov maintained a large program written in machine language, which was great training for becoming a computer scientist. It also gave her great understanding of bad code, especially since it was self-modifying code.

Initially Liskov could not find a job at an academic institution as hiring was done by the old boys network.  She went back to work at MITRE, this time as a researcher.  Going to MITRE rather than into the academy at that point enabled her to switch technical areas without the added pressure of being a new faculty member who had to think about standing for tenure in a relatively short period of time.

After providing the background information, Liskov talked about her technical work which ultimately led to the Turing Award.  Much of her work was motivated by interest in program methodology and the questions of how programs should be designed and how programs should be structured.  So after receiving the Turing Award, she went back and reread the old literature, discovering anew that there is great material in old papers and that her students were unaware of it.  So she is now pointing people to these papers and encouraging people to read them.

For example, three key papers she cited are:
  • Edsger Dijkstra, Go To Considered Harmful, Communications of the ACM, Vol. 11, No. 3, March 1968, pp. 147-148.
  • Niklaus Wirth, Program Development by Stepwise Refinement, Communications of the ACM, Vol. 14, No. 4, April 1971, pp. 221-227.
  • David Parnas, Information Distribution Aspects of Design Methodology, IFIP Congress, 1971.
So in 1972 Liskov published A Design Methodology for Reliable Software Systems.
In this paper she presented the idea of global state in which each partition owns a part of the global state.  Modules completely encapsulate their portion of the global state.  This paper was award winning and Liskov was invited to apply for a position at MIT.  She began there in the fall of 1972, one of 10 women out of a faculty of 1000.  

In the fall of 1973, Liskov decided to proceed with language design based on ADT work. With 3 grad students, she designed the CLU language. Her idea was that a programming language would allow her to figure out whether ADTs really work in practice, would allow her to get a precise definition of ADTs, and determine whether ADTs would impact performance.  So CLU has all these mechanisms – cluster; polymorphism; exception handling, iterators.

Finally, Liskov presented the research challenges of interest to her now:
  • Massively parallel computers – much to be explored and learned in this area
  • Internet computation – rich set of problems
  • Storage and computation, semantics, reliability, availability, security

Liskov also discussed the ingredients that have to be in place in order to get an ah hah moment!!! You have to be working on a problem, but also have to be able to have “off time” so that the brain can work on the back burner. She exhorted the audience not to get too tired because then you aren't productive.

It was one awesome speech which inspired every individual who was there listening to her!!


Key Note Speech by Duy-Loan Le

Duy-Loan Le is a Senior Fellow at Texas Instruments who started on her journey in technology at the age of 12 coming to America with very little other than a drive to make things happen. At 16 she graduated valedictorian from her high school and a short time later, a BSEE Magna Cum Laude from the University of Texas at Austin.

I knew very little about Duy-Loan until I read her nomination to receive the 2008 Women of Vision Award for Leadership. Her struggle to come to the US, to achieve a stellar academic background and to be the only woman fellow at Texas Instruments in its 80 year history is quite spectacular.

But it doesn't stop there - she has a huge following in the Vietnamese community. Duy-Loan’s service to the community is extensive. Among the many things that she does in America and internationally, she most enjoys providing education assistance for children and supporting social economic developments projects in 12 different countries through two 501c3 organizations, the Mona Foundation and the Sunflower Mission.

I see a lot of acceptance speeches and profiles of great women but her speech and profile are among the best I have ever seen. I have included the links here to her YouTube videos. Married for 27 years with children at that level, she has a lot of great advice for all of us.

I encourage all of you to listen to her speech. I was really inspired by it and am sure you will be too!


Thursday, September 30, 2010

Career Development Talks

As a final year graduate student, I focused more on career development talks during the conference. Here are some suggestions given by a panel discussion on “From the interview to negotiating your salary”:

Rule 1: Send thank you email after the interview.

Rule 2: Research the company extensively.

Rule 3: Be prepared to illustrate your diverse and quantifiable qualifications.

Rule 4: Be prepared to some standard questions (e.g. your strengths, most challenging project, etc.) with answers well memorized.

Rule 5: Do not disclose salary history before an offer is made.

Rule 6: Be able to justify the salary you are asking for.

Rule 7: Toot your own horn! Be proud and vocal about your accomplishments.
A recommended book is “BRAG”.

Rule 8: Have extra copies of your resume and a reference list with you at the interview.

Rule 9: Consider the entire compensation package, like vacation, health insurance, etc, not just salary.

Rule 10: Do not let the pressure of time affect your decision making.
A recommended book is “Getting PAST NO”.

Good luck to all the finishing students!