Dona Sarkar

Dona Sarkar

Dona Sarkar is the luckiest girl on the planet. She has not one, not two, but THREE jobs she absolutely loves.

She is a Seattle-based engineering manager at Microsoft, an author, a fashion blogger and designer. She joined Microsoft in 2005 and currently works on the HoloLens team, bringing the ability to easily build holographic apps to the masses.

She has more than 13 years of experience in the tech industry and has been involved in building products and customer experiences that are used by more than a billion people, starting from Oracle databases to multiple versions of Windows and holograms! She has previously completed a Data Science cert as well as a Digital Marketing MBA program at Rutgers so she can better understand how her company can reach more customers.

If I could ask Dona any three questions I would ask her:

  1. How do you like working for Microsoft? Are there opportunities for growth upward, mentorship, and being more than just a developer?
  2. How did you get started in all these different fields: technology, fashion, authorship, and speaking?
  3. Do you think the future will hold uses for augmented reality or will virtual reality eventually beat it out?
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– “DO NOT apologize for existing!”

I learned a lot from Dona. Did you know that no fortune 500 company CEOs do not watch Netflix, not even the CEO of Netflix. Most of these CEOs have time to do this but they would much rather be creating the next big thing and doing something productive with their life. She had great insight into many different facets of business and life because of all the amazing people she has met.

Karen Fondu the CEO of L’Oreal Paris showed Dona that both L’Oreal and Lancome brands of mascara are exactly the same but Lancome is about four times more expensive. This is the same for people because if you project yourself as being worth more then other people will think that as well. To match that confidence you should try to apply to jobs that you only meet 1/3 of the requirements for. This is harder for women to do on average because they like to be qualified not “under-qualified.” Most hiring managers do not want someone that fits all the requirements because the will not learn anything or bring anything new to the room.

Happy Dee one of Dona’s friends who is a master at networking stated that if you don’t show up in Google then you do not exist. Pretty much everyone hiring other people today is going to do some background research, so a good, well-crafted online presence is necessary in today’s economy. If you want to get into technology you need a GitHub account because those will be inspected as well. Try to focus on just one social media site and make it amazing then move on to the next one.

Sponsorship and mentorship is also helpful at a job. You want to seek out a mentor that isn’t exactly like you, if you’re a dude then find a woman to mentor you and if you’re a lady find a man. It usually isn’t comfortable for most people to follow the advice of someone who isn’t exactly like you but it is well worth it. If you take someone’s advice at least three times then they are definitely your mentor. Sponsors are also important, so show them what you can do and they will give you career opportunities to help you as an individual grow. Maintain these contacts, give gifts and catch up once in a while because this will make all the difference.

Kristin Jarvis, Michelle Obama’s assistant tells us to stay in the important room. If you’re in a meeting and all the underlings leave at some point stay in the room and hear what the “important” people have to say. If they tell you to leave of course do so, but if they don’t it is helpful to learn who makes decisions. Also never underestimate someone’s protege because they can be a fount of knowledge just like their mentor.

Dona can be contacted in multiple ways: