On November 14, 2018 American Express partnered with PowerToFly to present our third networking event together. After sold-out events in Florida and Arizona, it was amazing to host an evening at American Express' New York office and the night did not disappoint.
As our guests came in from the cold (there would be a huge snowstorm in NYC the next day), they were invited to receive a complimentary headshot photo (a must when looking for new opportunities) before helping themselves to an impressive buffet spread.
PowerToFly's CoFounder & CEO Milena Berry kicked off the night by officially welcoming everyone and introducing Katrina Roberts, SVP of Technology and Unit CIO at American Express. "This is my second family," explained Katrina, a twenty-seven year veteran of the company. "We work together to achieve amazing outcomes and it does feel like a true team. So that's one of the reasons I've stayed. The second is the challenges are endless. I never stop learning. I'm still learning all the time and I'm always given the opportunity to develop."
When Katrina wrapped her moving keynote address, the audience was treated to a pair of product demos highlighting innovative American Express technology. First up, Shek Lee, American Express Engineering Director spoke about the American Express Chat Bot and the role machine learning plays to help the company deliver customized customer experiences. As Shek explained, "the digital concierge learns your preferences over time and then provides personalized recommendations to help you book your travel."
The next product demo began with a hilarious television commercial starring Tina Fey and featuring Amex's "Pay It, Plan It" tool. American Express Vice President Anna Knizhnik broke down this great feature that allows Card Members to pay for small purchases right away, or make a plan to pay for larger purchases over time.. "People love Pay it, people love Plan it," Anna said. "They can manage their balances and manage their large purchases in a very responsible way. That is one example of the powerful backing of American Express."
Milena then brought back Katrina for a panel discussion where they were joined by American Express technology Vice Presidents John Ahn, Urvashi Tyagi and Divyangi Anchan. After Milena asked the panel some questions, we had a few minutes to open the floor to some very perceptive audience questions. Katrina, who serves as the Global Sponsor for American Express' employee network WIT (Women in Technology) shared how diversity and equality is part of Amex's DNA: "It's about creating safety, comfort, sharing common challenges and creating a sense that we can change things, not just from senior leadership down, but across the organization."
Once the panel wrapped up, our attendees still had plenty of time to network with the American Express team and to ask some more follow up questions. As our guests departed into the soon to be snowy air, they walked away with gift bags and memories of a great night.
I have a friend whose discerning toddler refuses to eat her preschool lunch unless it's in a bento box. I get it; baby carrots are much more appealing when stacked in their little compartment than not. That made me think: when did adult lunchtime stop being fun? When did a soggy sandwich brought from home or a $12 bowl of greens, scarfed down in 10 minutes while scrolling through emails, come to define midday sustenance? Enter adult lunchables.
A Q&A with Netskope's Senior Engineering Manager May Yan
May Yan has spent most of her impressive decades-long engineering career in California, but I asked her to take me back to the beginning — to when she first moved to the Golden State from China to get her Master's Degree in Computer Engineering at Santa Clara University. Were there any challenges, I wondered, as she adjusted to life and corporate culture in the U.S.?