Michelle Obama came through Singapore and Girls in Tech Singapore (GITSG) was fortunate to be a part of making it happen. Michelle was able to address an audience of a few thousand as if they were intimate friends having a chat about her life and values over coffee.

Having been a part of this experience, the team wanted to share back to those in our community who may not have been able to attend this event personally. We asked our members who did attend the event to feedback to the rest of us so we could also learn from her story. Here are the thoughts we collected from everyone:


Her Story

The former first lady claims that she is an ordinary woman, who’s life took an extraordinary turn. She told the audience that she chose to write her book because she was compelled to tell the whole truth to the world. Michelle comes from a working class family and she had to overcome a lot of adversity. She had to battle getting into Princeton, when most around her thought she wouldn’t make it. Fighting against the disbelief, her and her brother made it into the school through their extraordinary skills in sports.

 

Luckily, throughout this stage of her life, her parents didn’t dampen her spirits and allowed her to thrive. The key takeaway from her sharing, is to continue believing in yourself. Persistence and practice will get you where you want to go – but you are in charge of making sure that you continue doing both those things. And life wasn’t easy for her. She even goes on to describe intimate details including her miscarriages which she felt was necessary to share and make sure people realize she is a normal woman who goes through things a lot of us go through.

 

Getting thrown into the limelight was no easy feat and she had to make sure she remained true to her core values. Like her tag line, when they go low, we go high. Do not stoop to another person’s lowness. Always treat others with the respect and kindness you want.

 

Pushing through

The world is constantly changing around us. Markets are changing and new jobs are coming up. Michelle feels Technology is one of those streams that will play a big role in our future work force. However, there is still a lot more that she feels we can be doing to increase representation of females in the work force. Women have traditionally taken up multiple holistic roles, including the career woman, the wife and the mother. Therefore, females are always juggling a lot, and it’s about pushing through to make sure that you come up on top.

 

When her husband started to campaign and travel, she realized her own career in private practices would have to take a back seat. She sacrificed her private sector career and went into the public services for their marriage.

 

And boy it wasn’t easy. She described herself as having Imposter syndrome – where one feels they are not worthy of sitting at the same table as others. And she says, this is something most everyone has felt so we shouldn’t shy away from it. We need to step up and prove that we are not imposters and continue striving to bridge those gaps.

 

Takeaways

Overall, Michelle was very real in her sharing. Not holding her thoughts or personal stories back and making sure that we all know we have our own stories to tell and journeys to go through. One of the key takeaways for Jocelyn, Board Member of Girls in Tech Singapore is this:

“We may feel worried about being judged or ostracized, feared for being seen differently, ashamed perhaps of something that’s happened in our past, but Michelle’s story reminds us that it’s important to embrace these. These stories and moments make us all part of who we are.”