Diversity and Tech @ Microsoft Ignite | The Champion’s Guide to ALL the D&T Sessions!

Any seasoned conference attendee worth their salt knows that there’s nothing more terrifying than going into a massive conference over with 25,000 people without a plan in hand. You need to know exactly which sessions you’re going to hit, plan your walking time and make sure you get to the room in time to squeeze in a quick bathroom break AND still snag good seats in the room.  


Now let’s talk about schedule planning for a minute. 


We all know how annoying it is having to scroll past thousands of sessions on the Session Catalog to find the ones you want to go to. Luckily for you, there’s an easy way to find Diversity and Tech sessions – breakout, theaters, Empower Lunches, you name it – on the session catalog. Simply click the Filter button > Solution Area > Diversity and Tech and voila! Watch as the D&T session listings populate before your very eyes. 


If you’re bent on not trying to figure out the Session Catalog, we have you covered as well. Here’s your At-a-Glance cheat sheet to all the Diversity and Tech sessions happening at Microsoft Ignite – timeslots, venue, topics etc. Lost during the conference? Just pull up this webpage and we’ll get you right back on track 🙂 


See you there!


Diversity and Tech @ Microsoft Ignite 2018: Highlights


Ongoing all-day: Idea Swaps + Group Idea Swaps at the Diversity and Tech Lounge, Immersion Zone –> look for the  “Connect” overhanging banner


Sunday, September 23


12:00 PM-7:00 PM









OCCC West Room 230




Urban Tide Restaurant @ Hyatt Regency Orlando 

  • Model 47 for Business: Transcending Culture to Solve Real-World Problems by Dona Sarkar [Plated Luncheon]

  • Engineer your way to success: Build your personal board of directors by Sophia Velastegui

  • Evolving strategies for diversity and inclusion by Ann Johnson

  • The business case for supporting LGBTQ employees by Marianne Roling

  • Discover your diversity superpower: Persuade your way to success with an eight-line story by Lisa Kagan


Diversity and Tech Evening Reception for D&T Pre-Day Attendees featuring DJ EmV and a local calligraphy artist

Hosted by Catherine Boeger, General Manager of M365 GTM and our Diversity and Tech Champion Sponsor (to be announced soon)

Pre-day registration required. D&T Pre-Day bracelet required for admission into the D&T Evening Reception.

Monday, September 24

12:15 PM-1:15 PM 

OCCC West Room 230 

Empower Lunch Panel

Voices from the Top: Leaders Get Real on Building Inclusive Work Cultures

featuring top executives and engineering leaders



  • Tara Roth, CVP, Customer Success Engineering, Microsoft

  • Claudia Galván, Former Senior Director of Anita Borg Institute and former President of the Society of Women Engineers in Silicon Valley

  • Joy Chik, CVP Identity, Microsoft

  • Sophia Velastegui, GM of Product – AI Knowledge Graph

  • Jenny Lay-Flurrie, Chief Accessibility Officer

  • Scott Hanselman, Partner PM, .NET

  • Rokeya Jones, Senior Director, Azure Networking, Edge Connectivity (5G) Program Management Group Lead


Panel moderated by Marianne Roling, GM of SMSP CEE, Financial Times’ Top 100 OUTstanding LGBT executives




Expo Theater #6

How to start your own employee resource group to champion diversity and inclusion by Nivine Zakhari

Tuesday, September 25


Hyatt Regency Theater

What it’s like to be a woman in technology in Lebanon – My journey from being the only woman in class to a speaking on a global stage by Nisreen Deeb, Systems Analyst at Mediterranean Shipping Company, Co-Founder of Girls got IT, Chair, Arab Women in Computing Lebanon Chapter, Founder of The Mini Programmer and TechWomen alumna


Expo Theater #6

Work out loud: How to nurture your self-esteem at work and be comfortable with diversity by Lesley Crook, MVP

12:15 PM-1:15 PM 

OCCC West Room 230 

Empower Lunch

Spin your tale: The fiction writers’ guide to telling YOUR story by Dona Sarkar, Head of Windows Insider Program



OCCC West Room 222

Parents in Tech Meetup hosted by Michelle Caldwell, Sue Hanley and Cristal Kawula, Microsoft MVPs


Expo Theater #6

How a woman passionate about AI became Founder and CEO of MTY Intelligent Software, the first Algeria woman-led startup specializing in intelligent solutions by Ouafa Benterki, CEO and Founder of MTY Intelligent Software Algeria, President and Founder of Association of Machine Translation Algiers and Chair, Arab Women in Computing Algerian Chapter


OCCC West Room 222

Women in Tech + Allies Meetup hosted by Heather Newman and Liz Sundet, Microsoft MVPs



Diversity and Tech Idea Lounge @ Community Central

IACMP WIT-sponsored Women in Tech + Allies Happy Hour

Wednesday, September 26


OCCC West Room 230

Empower Breakfast hosted by Diversity and Tech Champion Sponsor, IBM


Expo Theater #6

How to kick fear and toxicity out of the workplace: A practical guide by Heather Newman, MVP


Expo Theater #6

Beware the lure of “Get Rich Quick” schemes: My personal journey as a business owner and lessons learnt by Stephanie Donahue, MVP

12:15 PM-1:15 PM 

OCCC West Room 230 

Empower Lunch

Service Degraded: Recognizing mental burnout in your colleagues and yourself by Sonia Cuff, Senior Cloud Ops Advocate


OCCC West Room 230

Letting go of fear and taking risks in an ever-changing IT landscape by Phoummala Schmitt, Senior Cloud Ops Advocate


Thursday, September 27


Hyatt Regency Theater

Stories from North Africa: Engineers to Educators – A Day in the Life of Women in Technology by Noura Ghali Berzouga, Head of Cloud and Key Account Service Department, Vice President and Co-Founder of Women Leaders in Technology Tunisia and Dr Fatima Zohra Benhamida, Assistant Professor, Higher National School of Computer Science in Algeria


Hyatt Regency Theater

“I’m here for the refreshments”: The journey of finding my inner goddess as a woman in tech by Phoummala Schmitt, Senior Cloud Ops Advocate

12:15 PM-1:15 PM 

OCCC West Room 230 

Empower Lunch

Empowering Diverse Leadership by Karuana Gatimu, Principal Program Manager, Microsoft Teams

2:15 – 3:30PM

OCCC West 222

Diversity and Inclusion Strategies Meetup: Why does it matter, and what we can do about it? by Jen Stirrup, MVP


OCCC West Room 230

How I went from sales to technical product management: You don’t have to code to build great products by Ashanka Iddaya, Chief Product Architect, Microsoft 365 Business

Friday, September 28 


OCCC West Room 230 

Empower Brunch Panel

In Conversation: Raising the Next Generation of IT Pros as Diversity and Inclusion Champions



  • Donovan Brown, Principal DevOps Manager

  • Tracy van der Schyff, Collaboration MVP, TheGuidStuff

  • Jiaxin Zheng, Product Marketing Manager, Windows Devices and Experience Marketing

  • Nidhi Verma, Senior Program Manager, OneDrive and SharePoint

  • Ouafa Benterki, Founder and CEO , MTY Intelligent Software Algeria, President and Founder of Association of Machine Translation Algiers 

  • Nisreen Deeb, Systems Analyst, Mediterranean Shipping Company and Chair, Arab Women in Computing Lebanon Chapter


Moderated by Rachael Sera, President, University of Central Florida Women in Computer Science (ACM-W) student organization


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