asli asli

Niner since 2006

Asli Bilgin serves a Developer Evangelist on the Microsoft Financial Services Industry Platform team in New York City. She works with Microsoft’s largest enterprise customers in order to educate them on the latest advancements with Microsoft development software. She is an industry recognized speaker on the latest advancements with Microsoft technologies, and serves as a contributing editor to various technical publications. She also serves on the Corporate Partnership Council board for the Soci...



  • TWC9: Asli Bilgin, Halloween, VS2010, and community events

    Al -


    You raise some really profound issues in your comment (a.ka. "rant" Smiley.  Mainly, the question of exclusivity when an organization groups together based on specific simliarities, in this case gender.  I'd like to respond to your post in first an anedoctal way, and then in a very actionable way (I hope).


    First, I want to reiterate that the Girl Geek Dinners (GGD) and the other WiT organizations that I mentioned are not exclusive to men.  If you care about the cause, you are welcome.  The cause is addressing what we can do about the serious decline in female software technologists (Ref; NYTimes article: from 28% CS degrees in 2001 to 10% last year. 


    Now for two stories...


    I attended a Women's Bond Club Diversity Round table at the New York Stock Exchange a few weeks ago. I will share more on the issues raised by the leaders of industry on my web site, but one quote really stood out.  Lawrence Leibowitze, Group Executive VP  & Head of US Markets of NYSE stated  - (I roughly paraphrase ) "gender diversity isn't about a plot for a bunch of women to huddle to the side and discuss how they can take over power.  This is about how we can get the cause gender diversity pulled into the center of core business. This is what we need to discuss. What we do here is relevant to society as a whole - driving awareness, as the workforce is only a microcosm of society.   I am embarassed at how few men showed up today. Women should be required to bring a male executive with them". At this the entire room burst into applause.


    Another story - curious about the emergence and growth of PHP as a development platform, I attended a PHP user group a few weeks ago.  Now I am not a PHP coder, nor do I plan to be, nor do I feel like I could even play one on TV Wink. However, when I attended the user group, I felt incredibly welcomed. I talked to various PHP coders and asked questions  - on the object model, how it could relate to .NET, how we could interoperate with it, and I asked what could Microsoft better with PHP support on Windows. I learned that by participating in a community that I myself was not a member, that there was a natural sharing of ideas and integration around common cause - in this case, leveraging technology to do better things in the world.  I found that some people didn't even know that PHP ran on Windows, and I myself learned more about the wealth of applications on PHP and think that perhaps we need to come up with ways we enrich our own Web App Gallery


    So I can think of 4 actionable things ( I hope that others to come up with other creative ideas!):

    1. Women's organization need to really clearly indicate that all are welcome, should that be their model

    2. Men should question, as you did, whether organizations like GGD are being exclusive. 

    3.  Attend a community event even if you do not feel like a member

    4. if you are a member of a community,  (e.g. Women in Tech), bring someone who isn't, (e.g. a man)


    I am so glad you raised this issue as oftentimes we shy away from topics that are sensitive.  Hopefully by raising it, myself, you and others can demonstrate that diversity is a cause that brings us together, not sets us apart Smiley





  • Becoming an Evangelist – Get the inside scoop from not one but two U.S. Developer Evangelists!

    Capecoder -  Thanks for the kind words (especially with that athleticism assumption as my typing fingers are the only bit of me that receive regular exercise). I do remember making the trek out to your user group when I was part of INETA, before I came to Microsoft, and appreciate the fact that you remember the event as well.

    More importantly, I'd like to address a serious implication in your comment - that technical expertise is not a criteria when hiring minority groups with the evangelism community at Microsoft.

    In the last 5 years at Microsoft, I have had the pleasure to meet a lot of female technologists - from entry level to extremely senior. I have consistently been impressed with their acumen and expertise, Especially, considering that minorities often have to swim upstream against generalizations, such as the ones you accurately point out in your comment. 

    I have always said that it doesn't matter what the "shell" looks like (pun intended), it's the compiler inside that matters.  

    Upon closer look at the technologists that represent minority groups at Microsoft, I do feel that you will be pleasantly impressed by their abilities, enthusiasm, and acumen.   In fact, the entire US evangelism platform group is run by a woman who is a perfect case study for combining strong charisma with intellectual savviness. 

    Disclaimer: I can only speak on my own behalf, not for the organization as a whole or other minority groups within this organization, so please do take my comments with a grain of salt.  

    Thanks again for taking the time to share your thoughts, and kind words.  -- Asli
  • Becoming an Evangelist – Get the inside scoop from not one but two U.S. Developer Evangelists!

    So to answer your question - do you have to be technical in order to be an evangelist?  I would venture to say yes.

    That answer may not even be limited to software evangelism - wouldn't you think that any sort of evangelism requires intimacy with the topic?

    Perhaps evangelism can be defined as teaching with enthusiasm.  So you got to know what you're talking about, and love what you're talking about. At the very least.

    Beyond that? Well, you don't necessarily have to be the most insane code-slinging warrior in the world, but it's certainly helpful to have certain amount of practical experience, beyond ivory-tower theory. Writing production code before becoming an evangelist helps you build a nice arsenal of pragmatic tips & tricks on how to write code with minimal friction.  Sharing these tips with your audience resonates well. It means you've been there, you understand, and, most importantly, empathize with what they're going through).

    When you're getting paid to write code, you will generally be under INSANE time & money constraints, where you have to get code out the door >>>>fast>>>>   As stressful as this is, you do learn A LOT! Methodologies such as Extreme Programming help reduce time to market to a certain degree, but the best insight comes from your own experience.

    So yes, you should know & love your subject matter. At the very least.  If have pragmatic experience, even better, because then you can relate to your audience, and they can relate to you.

    HTH - Asli