Name: Shira Weinburg
Occupation: Program Manager
Employer: Microsoft, Israel
“don’t be afraid to take risks.”
From her service in the Israeli Army to working as a software engineer (now project manager) at Microsoft, Shira Weinburg tells us her story about her exciting career in technology and why you should never be afraid to take risks, even if other people think you’re crazy.
What is your current job title and what day-to-day activities does this job entail?
I’m a Program Manager in the Microsoft R&D center in Israel. As a program manager I help build products by defining their requirements, features, goals and strategy. I also work with the development team to make those ideas happen and together we build high quality products. My job includes project management, release management, marketing our product and dealing with any PR (public relations) needs.
What is your educational background (if any)?
BSc in computer science, from the Academic College Tel Aviv – Jaffa.
MBA, IDC Herzeliya.
What experiences led you to your current position?
During my high school education I studied computer science and I continued along this path even when I joined the Israeli Army. They offered a six-month intensive programming course to all officers and I obviously enrolled. This followed with five years of service as a developer and a team leader for the army. Over that period I completed my first degree – BSc computer science and after my service I began my career at Microsoft.
At Microsoft I got to know the mobile and social world (mainly during my spare time) and was often looking for a way to connect my work with my new area of interest. After eight years as a software engineer I realized that writing code was not my real passion and I began a new journey by enrolling in an MBA program at IDC Herzeliya. I moved positions shortly after and became Program Manager with my current team at Microsoft. (I recently finished my MBA!!!)
What was the most defining moment of your career?
Two years ago I was a software engineer working on a Microsoft project and it was unexpectedly shutdown. After a few days of uncertainty, most of the team got offers for new positions on other projects. When I got an offer for a brand new position as a software engineer, I realized that I didn`t want to start a new position as a developer. I took a risk and refused to the offer. Instead, I found an open position as a Project Manager (PM) intern.
For this new position I had to give up on some of my benefits as a full-time Microsoft employee, many of my colleagues thought I’m totally crazy. Nine months later my team shipped a new product, which I led as a PM and a bit later I got an offer to move to a full-time position as a PM. More important than that, I enjoyed every minute of the process and felt that I’ve really found the right place for me. Today I can definitely say that this was the best decision I’ve made in my career.
What do you find most rewarding about your job?
First off, I get to work with so many great individuals and I truly learn from my team every day.
Secondly, seeing your hard work being shipped out to the world is highly rewarding. I also get to promote our products to consumers and I love generating a buzz around our hard work.
What skills are most important for your role?
Technical and analytical thinking, being organized and responsible, and lastly, interpersonal awareness.
There is a common misconception that ICT is boring; can you give us an example why your job is NOT boring.
My job is exciting since I get to work with great people; together we ship products for millions of users, making a real impact.
Why do you think women are poorly represented in ICT jobs?
That’s a tough question I keep asking myself. I believe the main reasons are education and social environment. Even as kids, there is a difference between boys and girls socialization. For example, boys tend to play more with computer games and are exposed to the ‘computer science’ world. Later on, social life has its effects as well – I remember myself as a 16-year-old studying computer science in school and I was the only girl among 60 students! I didn’t feel comfortable in this situation. I believe many girls decided not to learn computer science because they were in similar scenarios.
Why do you think girls should learn ICT skills?
I think the tech world is exciting, it keeps growing and developing and it’s a great world to be a part of. As a woman, I would love to see more women in ICT.
Can you list ‘5’ ICT jobs that you think our readers would love.
Software engineering team lead
If our readers wanted to pursue a career like yours, what advice/resources would you recommend to them?
Start from the beginning and the basics. I couldn’t be a good Program Manager if I didn’t have my extensive technical background.
Follow you dreams and passions, don’t be afraid to do what you really want to, don’t be afraid to take risks to achieve your goals and when you choose a path – work hard and put all your efforts in it.
If you could conjure up one quote to inspire young women, what would it be?
“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” ― Michael Jordan