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  • Writer's pictureThiago Assuncao de Faria

Innovation, Startups, and Lan Guang's Path

Meet Lan Guang, a Technology Strategist at Microsoft who is passionate about empowering startups and driving innovation. From her early fascination with technology to her current role, Lan's journey is a testament to her commitment to continuous learning and self-belief.

Kim Örberg picture

In her Lovelace Series interview, Lan shares her experiences, insights, and the challenges she's overcome. She highlights the importance of diversity and inclusion in tech, her strategies for work-life balance, and the critical skills for today's tech world.

One of her proudest achievements is her work with over 100 startups, guiding them to thrive in the cloud. Looking to the future, Lan is excited about the potential of AI, renewable energy, and blockchain.

Her advice for women in tech? Believe in yourself, explore your interests, and embrace continuous learning. Enjoy the full interview to learn more about Lan's inspiring journey.

Q) Can you share a bit about your background and your current role?

I'm a Technology Strategist at Microsoft, where I have the exciting opportunity to collaborate closely with late-stage startups & unicorns in the UK. My main focus is on helping these excellent Tech and Cloud-native companies thrive in the Cloud while also exploring the dynamic world of Fintech.

In terms of my background, I was a Solution Architect at AWS, focusing on early-stage startups. I totally loved working with those startups and empowering them with the potential of the Cloud and all the remarkable new technologies.

What got me started on this Cloud journey is I spent a good 5 years after graduation as a DevOps Engineer at a Tech Consulting company. That experience gave me a sweet mix of engineering and consulting skills.

Q) How did you first become interested in technology, and what led you to your current role?

My interest in technology probably began with my father, who happened to be a Mechanical Engineer. He was one clever guy with this talent for explaining complex Physics problems in the funniest way possible to little me.

It was like learning was an exciting adventure with him, and it sparked my curiosity to explore the world and uncover exciting patterns.

What I love about my family is that they never limit what I can study just because I'm a girl. When it came to choosing my field of study, I went for Electrical and Electronic Engineering at University in Integrated Circuit Design.

Although I must admit, I never felt like the typical engineering student. Sure, I love to 'talk' to machines and computers, but what really excited me was engaging with people and sharing all the cool and fun stuff I learned along the way.

That's when I noticed a common thread in my career - a passion for enabling others to embrace new tech and use it to enhance their lives and create more value.

Q) What main challenges have you faced in your career, and how have you overcome them?

Early on in my career, I encountered one of the first significant challenges—the vastness of the tech world. Technology is a broad concept that can catch you off-guard with completely new tasks or problems demanding your attention. Overcoming this hurdle required building a mindset that embraces learning new things without fear.

It's not something that happens overnight; it takes patience and perseverance. However, with every new problem I tackled and every obstacle I overcame, I felt a sense of growth, much like leveling up in a game.

Dealing with doubts from others was another obstacle I faced. Comments like "You're not technical enough," "What have you really achieved?" or "You lack experience" could easily create self-doubt. It looks like women in their careers are more likely to get that feeling.

To combat this, I focused on continually developing myself, leveraging my talents and passions to create real value.

By staying true to who I am and trusting in my abilities, I've managed to silence those doubts and keep pushing forward.

Bright white cabinet displaying the two books authored by Adora Nwodo - Cloud Engineering for Beginners and Beginning Azure DevOps).

Q) Who or what has been the most significant influence or support in your tech journey?

In my tech journey, education has been one of the most significant influences. During my time at University, I had the privilege of meeting some tutors who truly inspired and encouraged me to pursue the exciting world of technology.

Having a supportive environment with encouragement is crucial. I vividly recall facing a challenge during my final year project when I was stuck due to unfamiliarity with a particular hardware programming language essential for the project.

Thankfully, my supervisor understood the situation and took the time to demonstrate the basics on his laptop right in front of me, saying, "Look, it's not difficult! The next step is mastering more advanced examples." He handed me a book to further my understanding.

Throughout my tech journey and career, I've been fortunate to encounter many experienced individuals who played a similar supportive role as my supervisor did.

Their trust in my abilities and their encouragement, guidance, and hands-on demonstrations have been invaluable in helping me take those crucial first steps to learn new technologies.

Q) How have you seen diversity and inclusion evolve in the tech industry throughout your career?

Absolutely! Diversity and inclusion have become integral parts of the Tech Industry, especially with the widespread digital transformation. Embracing various perspectives and talents is crucial in driving innovation and progress.

However, it's essential to acknowledge that the tech industry still tends to be male-dominated. This is partly because more boys traditionally choose to study STEM fields, leading to higher representation in the industry. Additionally, there might be a stereotype suggesting limited career possibilities for women in tech, which is far from the truth.

I've had the privilege of working alongside numerous talented female colleagues who excel in their roles. They are developers, data scientists, cloud experts, solution architects, UX designers, and project managers.

Seeing these talented women succeed and thrive in the tech industry proves that diversity and inclusion are gradually evolving.

I believe we will continue to break down barriers and foster an environment that embraces everyone's unique contributions to the tech industry.

Q) How do you manage the work-life balance in the tech industry?

You know, achieving a perfect work-life balance is a challenge that applies to any industry, especially with the convenience of new technologies that enable us to work more efficiently.

It's easy to get caught up in the desire to achieve more, but finding that balance is essential.

Here's a tip that has worked well for me—prioritize your health & well-being, family, and hobbies. It's essential to be a productive member of society and cherish and enjoy life as a real human being.

Sometimes, the best ideas for work actually come from moments of relaxation and leisure. I've found that creative ideas tend to flow more effortlessly when I'm in a more relaxed environment.

Q) What skills do you believe are most important in today's tech world?

In today's rapidly evolving tech world, adaptability is vital. Uncertainty is a common thread, and embracing and navigating change will empower you to transfer your experience and skill sets to new areas if needed.

Communication skills have become invaluable in many tech roles, especially in conveying complex technical concepts to non-technical stakeholders. Bridging the gap between tech jargon and plain language is a significant asset.

Instead of fearing AI and its potential to replace jobs, embrace it. Learning the principles of AI and ML and knowing how to implement them can provide a significant advantage across various industries and use cases.

While you don't have to be a coding expert, having some coding knowledge can be fundamental in the tech industry. Because it opens doors to various possibilities and helps you better collaborate with developers and engineers.

The tech industry is so vast and diverse that additional skills may be necessary depending on your specific interests and expertise.

Always stay curious and be open to learning new skills.

Depending on your current role and your aspirations for future growth, skills such as Data Analysis, Cloud Computing, and Cybersecurity can also be precious and worth considering.

Q) Can you share a project or accomplishment you consider the most significant in your career?

Throughout my recent years in the tech industry, one of my most significant accomplishments is that I've had the privilege of being a part of engaging with over 100 startups and providing them with advice and support to kickstart and grow their ventures in the cloud. It’s significant to me as I can make use of all my previous experience to assist these startups on their journeys.

Firstly, it leveraged my expertise in Cloud and DevOps, enabling me to guide startups through the maze of cloud-based technologies, from helping them select exemplary cloud services to optimizing their infrastructure. These early-stage decisions played an essential role in their growth and success.

Additionally, my consulting background came into play as I adopted a personalized approach for each startup. Understanding their unique requirements and challenges allowed me to offer tailored recommendations and strategies aligned with their business goals.

It's so rewarding helping startups navigate the vast resources big tech companies offer.

Whether it was accessing credits for cloud services, participating in startup programs, or connecting with relevant industry experts, it’s important that startups have the resources they need to thrive

This experience reinforced my passion for helping others, and I look forward to continuing my journey to impact the tech community positively.

Q) What are your future goals, and where do you see the tech industry heading in the next few years?

Sometimes I still feel my career goals are not clear enough, but I figured out the major drivers that motivate me daily. There are more essential for me to:

  • Help people: leveraging technology to help and empower people, making a positive impact on their lives through innovative solutions and meaningful applications.

  • Drive Technology Adoption: promoting and facilitating the widespread adoption of cutting-edge technologies, ensuring that they reach and benefit a broader audience.

  • Fuel Startup Growth and Innovation: fostering startups and driving innovation, supporting the creation of groundbreaking products and services that shape the future of technology

It’s hard to predict the future tech trends. Personally, I would like to see it will be more tech that is good for society.
  • Ethics and Responsible AI: The AI development and deployment will add more considerations to ensure that AI systems are developed and used responsibly and ethically.

  • Renewable Energy and Green Tech: Developing and promoting more renewable energy solutions and sustainable practices to address environmental challenges.

  • Biotechnology and Health Tech: More personalized medicine, genomics, telemedicine, and health monitoring devices.

  • Blockchain: The adoption of blockchain technology is not only in the financial sector but also in areas like supply chain management, voting systems, and data security.

Q) What advice would you give to other women considering a tech career?

Believe in Yoursef, Explore your Interests and Embrace Continuous Learning.
  • Believe in Yourself: Recognise your abilities and believe in your potential to succeed in the tech industry. Confidence is vital to overcoming challenges and pursuing your goals.

  • Explore Your Interests: Tech is a vast and diverse field with countless specializations. So, take the time to explore different areas to find what truly excites you. Whether it's coding, UX design, data science, cybersecurity, or any other tech aspect, there's a place for you. Remember, you don't have to be a developer or engineer to enter the tech industry. The possibilities are limitless!

  • Embrace Continuous Learning: While having a computer science, engineering, or mathematics background is excellent, it's unnecessary. Many tech skills can be acquired through daily work and real-world projects. What's most valuable is the ability to learn fast, understand patterns, and have the resilience to overcome challenges. Your passion for tech, continuous learning, and critical thinking will open doors to a fulfilling career in this industry.

Q) Let's continue the flow... who would you like to read on the Lovelace Series?

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