“To build this diversity, it’s critical to have a varied company and partner ecosystem, and one that actively supports female leaders and entrepreneurs.” Q&A Ciara Perciavalle, Ireland’s Health Lead, Microsoft

Please tell us a little about yourself and your role as Ireland’s Health Lead in Microsoft?

I have been working with Microsoft for over 2 years. My role as Health Lead is to support our Health Customers in Ireland on their digital transformation, ensuring that the best of Microsoft and our partners is brought to bear to empower our customers to achieve more.

On a personal level, I’m a busy mum with 3 kids. I’m passionate about being a positive role model for my kids, showing them the importance of hard work, doing what you love and being proud of your career.

Why did Microsoft become a core partner with Grit?

Last year Microsoft Ireland were one of the programme sponsors which saw 15 companies from 8 different countries graduate through the programme. Myself and my colleague Mark Farrelly led the engagement from Microsoft, organising cyber security masterclasses and mentoring sessions with the entrepreneurs.

This was hugely rewarding, and we are very excited that we are sponsoring the Grit International Female Accelerator programme for the second year. We strongly believe that Microsoft has an important role to play supporting women in technology and see it as our responsibility to actively promote more participation by females in tech start-ups. We’ve seen first-hand how valuable the GRIT programme has been for entrepreneurs and we are looking forward to meeting the new intake of females.

How important is female leadership & diversity within Microsoft?

Diversity and inclusion is part of our core culture at Microsoft and our mission to empower every individual and organisation to achieve more means that we want to reflect that in every individual that makes up our company. We are dedicated to infusing diversity and inclusion principles into our hiring, our communication, our innovation, and the way we build products and technologies.

Diversity and female Leadership is also very important at Microsoft. While there remains much to do, we at Microsoft believe that we will only be able to address our toughest technology challenges when we embrace diverse perspectives.

To build this diversity, it’s critical to have a varied company and partner ecosystem, and one that actively supports female leaders and entrepreneurs.

How important is it for Microsoft to support female entrepreneurs working in digital health and life science?

Microsoft is committed to supporting female entrepreneurs in digital health and life sciences.

We also believe in supporting girls through education. If girls do not study science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), then they won’t have the skills to pursue a career in these areas. This then adds to the skills shortage in these sectors, and a gap in entrepreneurs. Examples of where we’ve supported is through Dream Space. Dream Space works with young people across education and communities and a key aspect of their remit is to inspire young girls to enter STEM. Since opening in 2018, Dream Space has worked with over 50,000 female students.

What involvement has Microsoft had with start-ups and how important do you feel start-ups are in the overall ecosystem?

Microsoft has put a great emphasis on working with startups, and founders to solve problems at every stage in their journey. In October 2021, we launched Microsoft for Startups Founders Hub in limited preview. Since then, we’ve had over 170 Irish companies successfully apply to be in the programme, over a third of which are female founded companies. A statistic we’re particularly proud of considering that year on year, the average venture capital investment into female founded companies is below 3% .

Through the Founders Hub programme we support startups from ideation to exit, providing them with the help they need to their next milestone. It’s a digital platform that brings people, knowledge and $350,000 worth of technology benefits together. The technology support includes all the tools necessary for a founder to build their product and run their business on a day-day basis. Through the programme, there is over 1,000 Microsoft employees registered worldwide to provide mentorship to the startups in the programme.

Additionally, the startup team is heavily involved within the Irish startup ecosystem at a grass roots level, providing judging at competitions, hosting events, and helping startups collaborate and connect with key stakeholders such as venture capitalists.

Over 30 Microsoft employees are trained to be part of the monthly mentorship programme, First Fridays for Startups, run by Dogpatch Labs and the Irish Connected Hubs. We also work with universities and organisations such as Enterprise Ireland, Scale Ireland, and ReThink Ireland, to help assist startups in the best way we can.

Any final thoughts?

I would like to thank the Grit board members for inviting Microsoft to be a technology partner and sponsor on this important programme.

Social media: https://www.linkedin.com/in/ciaraperciavalle

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Grit International Female Accelerator

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