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A valuable self-improvement opportunity - Microsoft GirlSpark 2018

BBA Global Business System Management student
Cecilia Mok Sze-lam

I am a year-2 student studying BBA Global Business System Management at the City University of Hong Kong. Before studying this program, I was struggling as to whether I should study Computer Science. I love technology because it is vibrant and endlessly-evolving. However, coding in an office for the entire day is not what I want – although coding itself is fun. (This is not a lie. Developing a system from scratch and making your own idea comes true is fascinating.) As the Information Systems' programme would enable me to hone both my interpersonal skills and technical knowledge, I chose this programme.

Cecilia Mok, student stories

Microsoft GirlSpark Camp and the Hackathon

Microsoft GirlSpark Camp is an annual event, now into its 5th year. This year, the camp was co-organized by Microsoft Hong Kong, LinkedIn Hong Kong and The Women’s Foundation, and took place from 2nd to 5th Jan. The camp aims to inspire future female leaders to develop themselves. The idea is that participants can better understand the ICT industry by meeting successful female leaders in panel sharing sessions and taking part in various kinds of workshops.

A hackathon for social good was held during the 4-day camp. By utilizing cutting-edge technology such as Azure, Big Data Analytics, and Cognitive API, girls in the hackathon designed products for people in need. Since I am interested in pursuing a career in the IT industry, I applied for the camp without a second thought. Participating in Microsoft GirlSpark 2018 gave me a wonderful opportunity to learn about technology and make friends. I learned a lot from the leaders in the panel sharing session as well. Thanks to strong teammates and our tremendous joint effort, our team won the Champion in the Hackathon Competition.

What I acquired from the 4-day camp?
Insight from Leaders

I was inspired by the panelists in the sharing sessions. They were influential leaders from different organizations. They all had one common characteristic – passion. One of the panelists, Ms. Quince CHONG, worked very hard on trying to be sociable. She tried to remember the names of the people she met and transformed herself into a cheerful person. Apart from personal improvement, she is dedicated to her company and employees. When she was at Cathay Pacific, she overcame SARS with the employees. She insisted on conducting regular contingency meetings with her colleagues, while others chose to stay at home. She even cried due to the unpaid leave enforced on other employees. This attitude should be greatly appreciated and we should learn from her.

As president of the Business Proposal and Competition Club in CityU, I am a leader as well. Although this is just a young society and I haven’t made the same sort of impact as Ms. Quince, I agree with her that continuously improving ourselves is significant. Frankly speaking, I was not a good leader at first. I allocated the work to the executive committee members in order to ensure everything settled smoothly. Despite good intentions, I was accused of being too dominant in giving limited choices to other members. Therefore, I tried to let them feel that they were respected and listened to by leaving space for them. I worried about if they could manage the event without my back-up but it worked out perfectly. They became more dedicated as they felt that they were trusted to the job. Learning from the experience of the panelists, I am more certain that being a future female leader is something achievable.


One of the biggest success factors of our team was our outperforming collaboration. The teammates in the GirlsHack Competition were wonderful and enthusiastic to work on the project. We leveraged the strength of different teammates and allocated suitable tasks accordingly. Vanessa, our team leader, utilized her leadership skills; Tiffany and Anthea showed their talent in video making and prototype making; Grace was a very good mediator in our group. And for Rosalyn and Cici, although they were junior, they did a splendid job on market research and presentation with business sense. Last but not least, I was in charge of the technical part of the project. I genuinely appreciate and cherish their efforts and contributions.


In spite of the knowledge I learned from the college, this was my first time to work on a project involving AI. In the past, I did use AI in a group project in the college. However, I didn't do much research about the mechanism behind or the available tools. Hence, I tried to learn about it via MOOCs (Massive Open Online Course) throughout these days. Nonetheless, I didn't know which approach was appropriate. Consulting mentors, I was advised to adopt reinforcement learning on day 3. On the third night, I read the learning materials and decided that deep reinforcement learning was suitable. I tried to understand the concepts and present them on the final day. Rapid learning on one night was a fun experience that we don't usually experience.

Lastly, I hope everyone in the camp has a bright future and finds their own journey. Technology is always changing, as vibrant as human beings ourselves.

(Written by Cecilia, March 2018)