Tag Archives: Faced

‘There are great things out there for you’: Q Johnson went from having to hide parts of herself to helping others embrace who they are – Microsoft Life

The Microsoft retail store employee faced a lack of acceptance until she found a community and the support to be herself 

By Natalie Singer-Velush

Q Johnson knows what it’s like to not be fully accepted for who you are. She felt the tension as a teenager, growing up in a family that didn’t tolerate the idea of same-sex love. After she graduated high school, her mother found out she was gay. “She told me, ‘That’s not allowed in my house. If you’re going do that, you need to leave,’” Johnson said. When Johnson returned from a trip out of town, she found that she’d been locked out of the house. She couldn’t get her belongings, and she had nowhere to go.

Then Johnson had to conceal her reality while she was homeless, living in her car and trying to get back on her feet after being rejected by her family. When few people were around, she would shower at night at her 24-hour gym, hiding her homelessness, and she ate meals at her job at a fast-food restaurant.

Not long after that, Johnson met the love of her life and joined the military. But in 2011, prior to the US Supreme Court’s 2013 reversal of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, her marriage to her wife wasn’t recognized. So, she was required to live on base in the barracks with other unmarried soldiers. She kept an apartment off base with her new family—her wife and daughter—walking a tenuous line between desperately wanting to be fully herself and having to be the pretend version of herself that was required to do her job.

Eventually, her hidden life was discovered, and to be with her family Johnson left the military and her identity serving her country behind.

She decided she would try to reinvent herself in Oklahoma City, where she grew up, and maybe this time things would be different.

“Technology’s always been a passion of mine,” Johnson said. “I saw an inventory control position open at a Microsoft store, and I applied. I’ve been here two years. Coming into a new job, you’re nervous; you don’t know what to expect. Right when I interviewed I learned someone I would be working closely with is a lesbian. So I was like, it’s ok. I was relaxed—at ease, you know? I later learned other people working around me were gay, too. It was a relief.”

It was the first time in a very long time that she felt accepted for who she was, that she felt like she could just be Q.

“I felt like I could come in and be myself. I didn’t have to worry about judgment from my family anymore.

“You shouldn’t have to go to work pretending to be something you’re not. I shouldn’t have to be ashamed of being married to someone of the same sex. I should be able to come in and say, ‘This is my wife. This is my daughter.’ Here, I’m comfortable being myself.”

Now Johnson speaks to groups of LGBTQ+ military members and veterans, who often attend anonymously, telling them her story and helping them see that it’s possible to come out of hiding, to live a happy life and be fully accepted.

“There are people out there facing similar things. Talk to them; get that support. Don’t give up on your life because there are great things out there for you.”

“There are people who suffer from PTSD of all different types, who face the same things I face. I can go share my story and just, you know, just be human,” she said.

“It took me a long time to be able to share my story without crying. And it was my wife who told me, ‘You know, if you let it out you might feel better.’ And I thought, well if I’m going to let [my feelings] out, maybe there are other people who feel like me. Talking about these experiences with veterans is so important. It’s giving something back to them, after they serve their country.

“Being able to walk into a room and not be judged is so important. Because that’s who we are at the end of the day.”

Nowadays, Johnson says, she finds strength from her struggles and feels empowered to help others around her as much as she can. And she’s done hiding.

“I would say to anybody going through the same types of things I went through: Just one day at a time. It may be tough, whatever the situation is. But don’t get your hopes down, because it gets better. There are people out there facing similar things. Talk to them; get that support. Don’t give up on your life because there are great things out there for you.”

The financial services industry banks on the Microsoft Cloud for digital transformation – The Official Microsoft Blog

Financial services organizations are at a transformational tipping point. Faced with fierce market pressures – nimble disruptors, complex regulations, digital native customers – technology transformation in the industry is essential, and it’s increasingly becoming a competitive edge. Firms leading the charge into this new era are transforming customer experiences, fostering a new culture of work, optimizing operations and driving product innovation, and they are using Microsoft cloud, AI and blockchain technologies in their journey to become digital leaders of the future. TD Bank, Sumitomo Mitsui and Credito Agricola are among the organizations that have embraced this digital transformation happening in every part of the world.

Next week at Sibos, the premier financial services industry event, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, myself and others from Microsoft will speak alongside other innovative business leaders driving transformation. Here are some of the scenarios and solutions Microsoft customers and partners are implementing along their journey:

Fostering a new culture of work

Fostering a digital culture is a paradigm shift, one which financial institutions must embark. Jumpstarting this culture shift means designing a workplace where every work style can thrive – one that harnesses digital intelligence to improve experiences, unleashes creativity and enables mobility while keeping organizations, people and information secure. With modern tools, employees from the first line to the back office can do their best work.

State Bank of India, a 200-year-old institution, is working with Microsoft to create a modern workplace for its 263,000 employees across 23,423 branches servicing more than 500 million customer accounts, including some in the most remote locations of the country. SBI has adopted Office 365 to enhance communication and collaboration among its workforce, and believes that Microsoft is delivering the best productivity experience for its employees while ensuring the highest standards of security, compliance and adherence to regulatory requirements.

Emirates NBD is creating more creative and collaborative workspaces for their employees, and has selected Office 365 as well as Surface Hub to deliver on their digital transformation efforts.

Transforming customer experiences

Customer expectations have changed and will continue to evolve at the speed of technology. The imperative for financial services firms is to engage customers in a way that is natural, tailored and delightful at every turn. The most innovative firms will create experiences that harness data from customers to derive actionable insights and deliver greater market success.

TD Bank is known for legendary customer service and aims to match their marquee in-person experience through digital wherever customers may be – at home, at work or on-the-go. With more than 12 million digitally active customers and expectations evolving at the speed of technology, TD has turned to Microsoft Azure and data platform services to help deliver on their promise of legendary service at every touchpoint.

Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation is transforming their employee workstyles and enhancing their customer experience with the Microsoft Cloud. In addition to building a secure and highly productive office environment utilizing Azure and Office 365, SMBC has also introduced an interactive automatic response system for customer service, powered by the Microsoft Cognitive Toolkit and AI services.

Optimizing operations

Shifting line-of-business applications and other capabilities to the cloud is a foundational step along the digital transformation journey that enables banks to save big and reinvest dollars in more innovative, value-add banking services. It also enables firms to be more agile like their industry disruptor counterparts.

UBS is using Azure to power its risk management platform, technology that requires enormous computing power, to run millions of calculations daily on demand. The result — speeding calculation time by 100 percent, saving 40 percent in infrastructure costs, gaining nearly infinite scale within minutes — means the firm can have more working capital on hand and employees can make quicker, more informed decisions for their clients.

Société Générale is using Azure’s high-performance computing capabilities to power the credit value adjustment (CVA) intraday calculation, a critical front-office function, enabling cost-effective, almost limitless on-demand computing power.

Driving product innovation

Driving product and business model innovation allows organizations to harness data as a strategic asset, shifting from hindsight to foresight, automating manual processes, delivering personalization to customers, and innovating with new business models, services, products and experiences to differentiate and capture emerging opportunities.

Crédito Agricola considers open banking as a future standard for the financial services industry. The bank’s digital strategy on open banking seeks to leverage the cloud to provide seamless and frictionless interactions that delight their customers, while complying with regulation. Credito Agricola is using Microsoft Azure to deliver open banking capabilities like API management gateway, security and identity, as well as analytics and insights, with plans to extend their core banking services to third-party service providers.

Microsoft is collaborating with The Monetary Authority of Singapore and The Association of Banks in Singapore to support Project Ubin 2, using Azure to explore the use of blockchain for the clearing and settlement of payments and securities, a key milestone in Singapore’s ambition of becoming a Smart Financial Center.

For the financial services industry, a firm’s deliberate and strategic move to the cloud hinges on security, privacy and regulatory compliance. Microsoft is committed to earning the trust of our financial services customers. We engage with regulators in key markets to share information about our services, the related controls and our approach to enabling customer compliance. We also take input from leading banks and insurers across the globe on an ongoing basis to improve our offerings to help meet regulatory requirements. We do all of this to continue building our customers’ trust in cloud technology.

It’s incredible and humbling to be on this transformational journey with so many ambitious digital leaders. Come visit us at booth No. C46 if you’re in Toronto or follow our stories at our press site. You can also join my session at the Innotribe, “Creating Space for Innovation,” on Tuesday, Oct. 17, and see Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella provide the Sibos closing plenary on Thursday, Oct. 19. Satya’s plenary will also be livestreamed here.


Tags: financial services, Sibos