Be bold, be courageous

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Lisanne Brons, a Technical Lead at Microsoft, describes herself as an extrovert who thrives on interactions with different people. She is a nominee for RightBrains’ Digital Talent Award

Lisanne started her career at Microsoft in 2012 as a User Experience Consultant; translating customer requirements into prototypes and designs. Now, eight years later, she leads a team of technical solution specialists.

“The most important thing I have learned is to be yourself. I have very broad interests; I studied artificial intelligence and afterwards did a master’s degree in psychology. Microsoft has allowed me to fulfil different roles, from technical positions to people management. And in my day-to-day life, I balance these interests; how technology impacts people and where people and technology meet.”

But it hasn’t always been easy.

“In some roles, I have felt that I wasn’t qualified or experienced enough; typical feelings of the impostor syndrome. When I became a technical specialist, I wasn’t super confident about my technical knowledge straight away. And again, when I became a manager at 32, I felt that perhaps I was too junior. In these roles, when I looked around me, I did not always see myself represented. But then I realised that I don’t have to do the job the way it has always been done. I can do it my way. And I felt empowered because I was no longer holding myself back with self-doubt.”

“At work, you are often asked what you want to achieve, but we are not always asked who we are today. I believe in a personal career philosophy; to find out what your strengths are and what your purpose is. Self-reflection gave me more confidence in my professional roles.”

“You have to put yourself out there and approach people who inspire you. Be courageous when building connections. Most people want to help, but you have to seek out help actively.”

Lisanne is also a Diversity and Inclusion ambassador at Microsoft. For her, inclusion is the most important. 

“During my high school years, I did not follow technical courses because I thought it was not for me. It was only later at university I found out how fascinated I was by technology. Now I want to inspire girls and boys to be excited about a technical career and show that it is not only reserved for certain types of people. And at Microsoft Netherlands, I lead a group of 50 ambassadors who work towards reaching gender equality.”

“A project close to my heart is Girls Day; each year, we invite 50 girls into our office and inspire them. In April this year due to corona regulations, we held a digital event which reached over 600 girls!”

She says it is crucial that men should be involved in inclusion and gender equality conversations. 

“If you only have women in these conversations, you only get one perspective. You need a diverse group to work towards the end goal of equal opportunity for all. It is not just about empowering women; it is about ensuring equality.”

Her main objective for her career is to continue broadening her technical horizon.

“There are so many interesting things out there. I would love to learn more about things like mixed reality and the internet of things. Making sure you keep up with your technical knowledge and skills is important to stay relevant. I encourage everyone to become a “learn-it-all”; someone who always stays curious, asks questions, and seeks to understand. This way, you ensure you keep growing as a technical professional.”