All posts by Imani Palmer

Bold Ambition and Our Core

By: Ginette Samwel

I-trek stands for “I turn research into empowerment and knowledge.” Do you ever stop to think about what the term ’empowerment’ means? Referring to Merriam Webster’s online dictionary yields three definitions; while the first and second explanations focus on delegating power and authority to individuals,  it is the third definition of empowerment that aligns the closest with i-Trek’s philosophy. This third definition states the following:

To promote the self-actualization or influence of <women’s movement has been inspiring and empowering women

~Ron Hansen –

Scuba Diving

This third definition, a statement that emphasizes self-actualization, forms the core of I-trek and represents what I wish to discuss in this article. I believe that i-Trek represents the desire to translate one’s dreams and ideas into action. Through i-Trek’s influence, a project in Florida that involved researching emissions from coral reefs allowed a student to get certified as a diver. Actions like these are worth celebrating and strongly represent what i-Trek is all about: empowering students, helping them self-actualize and inspire others to go out explore ideas.

For young people thinking about careers in STEM, it is important to consider that dedication to this field may not always result in a stable career. Although I do not advocate the common belief that you should always follow your dreams, I do support the following adage: Where attention goes, energy flows.

On July 17, 2014, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella,  announced the layoff of 18,000 workers. Apparently, this is the fourth largest layoff in tech history and represents 14% of the workforce, most of it coming from Nokia.  13,000 were let go that day. 5,500 more will be laid off in the coming months. It is important to note that those numbers included many engineers and middle managers.

Layoffs can either signal bad news or a new opportunity. Microsoft has stiff competition these days; although they provide various digital services such as gaming programs, phones, speech recognition through Skype, and cloud computing, they always have to find a way to satisfy their consumers and remain one step ahead of everyone else. In fact, one of the key components of staying in business is finding ways to stay ahead of the competition while keeping your consumer base along for the ride.

A week before Mr. Nadella announced the layoffs, he disseminated an internal memo titled:


The memo is organized along three principal themes:

  1. Our Worldview
  2. Our Core
  3. Our Culture

When Microsoft started less than forty years ago, they focused on providing hardware and operating systems for consumers. Fast forward to the present, and Microsoft’s entire business is now connected through phones and the Internet, as well as through the cloud. Once personnel at Microsoft got wind of this memo, some of them thought, “Uh oh, a lay off is looming.” I guess they were right; however, the memo is also notable in that it represents a big picture vision of the company’s future.

In the second paragraph, Mr. Nadella writes the following.

“The day I took on my new role I said that our industry does not respect tradition it only respects innovation. I also said that in order to accelerate our innovation, we must rediscover our soul our unique core. We must all understand and embrace what only Microsoft can contribute to the world and how we can once again change the world. I consider the job before us to be bolder and more ambitious than anything we have ever done.”

TelescopeMr. Nadella’s memo talks a lot about the role of technology in cloud computing. He presents a vision for ambient technology that will allow computing to be more fully integrated in our lives. The right Microsoft team does not just clock in time and do the work. Their energy and attention is put into fulfilling the dream 24/7. Corporations are people according to the U.S. Supreme Court. Maybe that is why Mr. Nadella talks about rediscovering “our soul.” Trekkers, take heed. Discover your soul. Understand your world view, your core and your culture. Embrace your passion. For in that passion you may discover that which makes you unique and that which fuels your drive and innovation. To be clear, I’m not saying you should stop studying STEM and become a musical Artist. Rather, if music inspires you, find creative ways to use it to enhance your experiences. Maybe you use your innate talents and skills to design websites, utilize special effects that can improve performances, or even for creating educational materials. The list goes on.

Successful Trekkers are those who understand their unique value proposition. In the remaining weeks of summer and into the start of the new school year, Trekkers should seek to find what drives you to be bolder and more ambitious than usual. It’s okay to fall down, but it is even more vital to have confidence that you can get back up and keep going. However, don’t just keep going, be creative and constantly innovate.  The brilliant idea isn’t necessarily the most complex, but rather, it is the idea that helps our communities become better than it was before.

I will end this article with a quote from Mr. Nadella’s memo.

“We must each have the courage to transform as individuals. We must ask ourselves, what idea can I bring to life? What insight can I illuminate? What individual life could I change? What customer can I delight? What new skill could I learn? What team could I help build? What orthodoxy should I question? …With the courage to transform individually, we will collectively transform this company and seize the great opportunity ahead.”