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Leverage the power of communities | Lakshya Sivaramakrishnan


Leverage the power of communities | Lakshya 


every year i get emails from someone for new year and diwali no it's not a bot it's a show ashok was a helper at triple iet bangalore and a participant in one of my first projects with google student club i was helping him learn how to use emails and this was eight years back when smartphones were not too popular so we got together one saturday afternoon and created an email id for him i must admit he was a quick learner and years after i left the institute i still get emails wishing me happy new year or happy diwali or just hello ma'am how are you the joy of receiving that email is like a surprise dropping into your mailbox every once in a while my journey with communities started with this experience and i went on to learn and do multiple things as part of communities it helped me interact with a lot of people right from the housekeeping staff all the way to the director i guess that's where my passion for communities got ingrained all of us at some point have been part of groups with shared interest it could be a music or a sports or a photography 

club at college or a technical community nearby or an employee resource group at your workplace it could also be a spiritual or a hobby group in your society everyone associates a different feeling by being part of communities for some it could mean a sense of shared identity and purpose for some it could be emotional connect or friendship i even have a few friends calling it family for me it is a sense of belonging a few weeks after i graduated a friend of mine reached out to me to lead the blr droid community which is the bangalore android user group for those who don't know it's a tech community with people interested in building mobile applications i immediately said a yes to him and since then there has been no looking back my purpose behind the yes was to meet new people and for those who know me i derive a lot of energy from people but what also came along was a set of responsibilities weekends spent in hosting and speaking at events and the responsibility to figure out what does it take to run and build great communities you need the right audience you need to identify their needs and check what value you're going to be adding to them each time most importantly you need to be able to do this consistently well i also remember many of my friends asking me what is it that you get by being part of communities

 do they pay you i said well no but let's see what unfolds it's only years later that i understood the profound impact that communities have had on me through the community i got a chance to apply to a public speaking training which was hosted by one of the leading public speaking agencies in san francisco called speechless post the training we were taught to record our own story and my talk along with two other friends got featured on the google developers youtube channel this was in 2014 i felt a deep sense of accomplishment and i still remember my parents showing that video to friends and relatives for almost a year through my community contribution i was also given an opportunity to travel to google i o on an all expense paid trip google i o is google's annual developer conference and this was in 2016.

 i remember sitting in one of the front rows with my friend arya watching the keynote live listening to sundar pichai releasing products like aloe duo and even launching the new google home the exposure the listening to the experts about latest technologies and meeting people from different countries and cultures were all fascinating while i spent my weekends for almost about two and a half years hosting and participating in various communities i built relationships with people i would have never met if not for communities i started realizing and understanding the value of strength of weak time i would make it a point to go and say hello to everyone hoping that they would remember me the next time we met i also spent some of my free time in upskilling myself around the topics of data science based on my community experience i was contacted to lead the women techmakers program for india it was an extremely tough call for me to let go of my dream job in the field of data science and choose to lead communities but i decided to take the plunge because i could foresee myself changing the lives of individuals with this role i must admit i was confused and scared of the unknowns that lay ahead and just figuring out how to lead communities at a national scale the program was at a very nascent stage back

 then and there was a lot of work to be done i was fortunate to have some great mentors and friends who supported me in this transition i built connections even beyond work and meetings in three years i managed to touch about 17 000 members in india and scaled the program from eight ambassadors in india to 58 today this experience has taught me a lot about courage empathy and resilience fast forward 2020 kovit presented us with a lot of challenges but also a set of opportunities to me it meant running the biggest virtual summit across india for international women's day what is usually a physical one day summit with about 300 women attending had to now go virtual seamlessly so with about three weeks of preparation 35 communities decided to come together to put together this event right from putting together a team to designing the website to figuring out the tech infrastructure designing creatives to promoting that event on social media we have to do it all i took up the role of program managing this event and through that experience got to work with some amazing people across the depth and breadth of this country we all had our strengths and we decided to play by it there was a lot of work to be done a lot of collaboration and communication a solid plan in place and it was important to get the organizing team motivated throughout this journey we managed to take all those boxes and ended up reaching about 11 000 attendees across 76 countries but what stuck the most with members of the organizing team was the bond that we build with each other in less than a month we understood each other more at a personal level we accepted each other

 with our strengths and weaknesses and we became the strongest advocates of each other's success that's the magic that can be weaved in with what's even more gratifying is to hear the stories that people share with you while you work so closely with them there are many instances that remind me time and again the power of communities and the impacts that it has on our minds and hearts i want to share with you stories of a few people that i've had the absolute privilege to be working with through this community experience the first story i want to tell you is about finding your voice meet druva from ahmedabad purnima from kolko varsha from jalandhar and aditi from indore while they belong to different parts of this country they had one thing in common they would stay small and hidden around a group of people and would hesitate to give out their opinions but by spending about a couple of years with communities each of them got transformed for good today they do not have the fear of being judged when they put out their perspectives sometimes they even convince me on why their idea is better than mine and i get absolute joy in looking at these women growing from strength to strength the second story i want to tell you is about empowerment meet ananya who is a community organizer at the bangalore chapter she joined the communities a few years back and got deeply involved with her community not expecting too much in return i was speaking to her one day very recently and she told me how much she owed her current role to her community experience because that's where she built her soft skills and got exposed to real technology today she is doing a role that many of us in the tech industry aspire for she calls herself a developer experience engineer when communities can play such a key role in providing economic opportunities along with the exposure and experience it's certainly worth a try isn't it the third story is about hope meet rich raj from jalandhar one of the most passionate community organizers that i know of i once asked him rich why do you do what you do for communities and he said laksha i really want to support help and mentor people because that is a luxury that i did not have and his answer really touched me another community champi

on senbil hails from madurai while madurai is extremely popular for its temples it also houses some great tech professionals however given its geography there's a dearth of exposure to communities there language is sometimes a barrier too so center based out of bangalore would take the pain to travel to his hometown on weekends to lead local communities there what's even more heartening is to see him translating a few of the talks and event summaries to his local language so that more people can understand and benefit from this community experience these instances make me feel that we are progressing towards building great leaders and stronger communities over the last few years i have been part of many communities student communities technical communities women in tech communities reflecting on my own community experience this has been an extremely fulfilling experience for me i have learned to lead with my head and my heart and along the way have got an opportunity to work with some amazing people creating a motivated confident tribe of women supporting other women is what gets me to work every day and i can tell you in a nutshell that c

ommunities allow you to empower others around you and in the process you also empower yourself so find your interest group with that self interest you can learn grow and share together with like-minded individuals with very similar interests but diverse perspectives it can pay a way for you to become a better leader a better teammate or even a better person for all you know it might help you find a new job or a new mentor or a new co-founder for your next venture or a friend for life i want to take this opportunity to thank all the people who have stood by me through this journey my support system my friends from the communities your support and encouragement is what inspires me every day to pay it forward you get me going at the beginning i spoke to you about different feelings being associated for different people when we think of communities when i asked a few community professionals on what comes to their mind here are a few answers that i got and i'm sure many of you can relate to some of these words and phrases as i sign off i wish you more power to build and participate in communities that will enable you to find your voice get empowered or be instrumental in paying it forward or all of the above thank you