There is little that is conventional about Skype Group Program Manager, Lilian Rincon. Born to Spanish and Chinese-Indonesian parents in Venezuela, she attended school in British Columbia and has since worked from Bangalore to Shanghai to, now, Microsoft Silicon Valley.
The fact that Lilian blazed her own path is the one thing that is predictable about her. She comes from a long history of female pioneers.
Lilian says, “My grandmother was a young Chinese immigrant to Indonesia during World War II. She had nothing and was illiterate. However, she had a charismatic personality, was good at math and was extremely hardworking.” Lilian’s grandmother built one of the most successful upholstery businesses in Indonesia, which since evolved into clothing manufacturing and car dealerships.
“She exhibited relentless determination and drive was a role model to everyone in the family,” says Lilian, “And she showed me that you can accomplish any dream if you put your mind and drive to it.”
Rather than following in the family business, Lilian’s own mother left Indonesia at a young age to study computer science in the UK. At the time, it was pretty much unheard of for a young woman to leave home to study technology on the other side of the globe. It was equally surprising for her to marry another student, from Spain, “for love nonetheless,” Lilian laughs. Her mom worked at IBM in the UK and then moved to Venezuela where she exposed Lilian to computers and technology at a young age.
Lilian grew up loving math and problem solving. After a successful academic career and seriously considering doing a PhD in Computer Science, she worked at Crystal Decision (later Business Objects) setting up development centers in Bangalore and Shanghai. She joined MSN and then went to pre-acquisition Skype in Palo Alto only to be “re-acquired” by Microsoft. “I guess Microsoft is my destiny,” she smiles.
As for working at Microsoft Silicon Valley, Lilian “loves the innovative vibe and awareness of competition across the industry.” She says, “There is generally a great attitude and collaborative spirit of people here.”
At Skype, Lilian led the team to create the first indirect monetization products within Skype and co-authored a machine learning paper with Skype Big Data Architect Saila Talagadadeevi. Lilian and Saila presented the paper on how they’ve “combined different machine learning techniques to come up with Skype audience segmentation and overcome challenges in clustering on large data sets” and have since become in-demand presenters at various tech conferences. See their tech talk they presented at Microsoft's Bay Area Girl Geek Dinner in April 2014.
Lilian is now a Group Program Manager driving and operationalizing Meetings, one of the new high-value scenarios at Microsoft. She says, “I work with some of the smartest people from across the company to figure out how Microsoft software and hardware products can reimagine meetings and engagements for consumers and enterprises.”
“Meetings are something that everyone struggles with doing seamlessly and this is a great opportunity for a One Microsoft solution to help lead the charge,” she smiles. “Considering how many meetings we do at Microsoft, this is a scenario a lot of folks across the company are eager to solve.”