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Women of Microsoft Quantum (Part 1)

In honor of International Women’s Day, Microsoft is proud to recognize some of the amazing women of Microsoft Quantum. These engineers, scientists, program managers, and business leaders are working toward realizing Microsoft’s mission of building a scalable quantum computer and global quantum community to help solve some of the world’s most challenging problems.

Last year, we introduced you to some of the women working on quantum software; this year we’re profiling more women delivering impact in the Microsoft Quantum program, across quantum hardware, software, partnerships, and business development.

This is the first of a two-part series.

Elisa Garcia Anzano – Senior Business Development Manager

Elisa Gonzalez Anzano bio pictureQ: Tell us more about your role in the Microsoft Quantum group. What exciting things are you working on right now?

I run the startup program as part of our Microsoft Quantum Network, coordinating partnerships between quantum startups and Microsoft to provide early adopter access, go-to-market opportunities, and mentorship.

Every morning I get to meet incredibly smart founders – early-stage Quantum companies that have an idea to advance science. I am so excited about helping these founders get their ideas closer to reality by partnering with us and working on projects that bring us closer to a future where we can solve problems that have been completely intractable in the past, whether if that’s pharma, optimization, machine learning or materials discovery.

Q: What was it that attracted you to the technology field? How and why did you decide to join the domain of quantum computing?

I have always been fascinated by how things operate inside. As a little kid in Spain, I would disassemble simple electronic hardware (like TV remotes), to try to understand how the input of pushing keys triggered currents in the circuitry, leading to output signals, and then try to reassemble them again – sometimes unsuccessfully, to the frustration of my parents.

My uncle also helped foster this interest. His hobby was working on radios, antennas, DXing, and computers. I admired him very much, and he would often allow me to tag along and talk me through what he was working on. On my 6th birthday, he gave me a ZS Spectrum 48Kb and a book of BASIC, which allowed me to teach myself how to program my own video games. When I was 8, I saved for more than a year to buy my first 386 computer and I learned every single detail of it. By the time I was in high school, I excelled at math, physics, and music, because to me, these were all languages of nature that made sense to me.

When the time came to choose my university major, I naturally chose Telecommunication Engineering. Given my upbringing, I was fascinated by waves, sound, light, and photonics. More importantly, I wanted to learn how this symphony of waves and particles could be orchestrated to create things that were useful to humanity.

I started working at Microsoft right after graduation. I began my career there as a technical evangelist in Spain. I had to learn the products inside and out and would often spend many days on the road talking to crowds of university students and start-ups about them.

My thirteen-year career with Microsoft has been an adventure, spanning geographies (Madrid, Redmond, and now San Francisco) and multiple technologies. My current role has been the most exciting chapter of my adventure yet. As a Startup Lead for the Microsoft Quantum team, I’ve been able to combine two of my biggest passions: With one hand, I have been able to continue working with promising (deep) tech companies and help them scale; and with the other, I have been able to deepen my knowledge of physics and apply that to technologies that will change the world that we live in for generations to come.

Linda Lauw – Director of Academic & Scientific Partnerships

Linda Lauw bio pictureQ: Tell us more about your role in the Microsoft Quantum group. What exciting things are you working on right now?

As Director of Academic and Scientific Partnerships for the Microsoft Quantum program globally, I have the pleasure and excitement of bringing together Microsoft’s amazing scientific and engineering team with the best and brightest of the public sector, including academic talent and grant-funded initiatives.

This is achieved through my team’s engagement on a number of fronts, ranging from contracting to developing new partnerships and processes to support the happy co-existence of scientific and commercial interests. We also focus on designing and bringing to life new Microsoft Quantum Lab facilities and contributing to workforce development through the extension of the Microsoft Quantum Systems curriculum for teaching in institutions around the world.

I’m particularly energized as of late by government commitment in key geographies to focus on and fund the advancement of quantum technologies and the development of a global quantum economy. Microsoft has always maintained that Quantum is an area that will take the combined and intense efforts of an extremely multi-faceted community to accomplish our mission.

Q: What was it that attracted you to the technology field? How and why did you decide to join the domain of quantum computing?

Adding unique value to complicated subject matter and enabling technology and experts have always been appealing to me. The Quantum stage certainly has its share of all of the above. While I am not a scientist nor an engineer, I am an enthusiastic problem solver who believes that timing and people are a lot of everything.

I joined Microsoft in Xbox Marketing where I enjoyed developing the Xbox Live member base through online and retail marketing. To Microsoft’s credit, when I wanted to explore the engineering side of the house, I was able to transition into Chief of Staff for Xbox Engineering. Tugging at the Chief of Staff thread led to a role in Artificial Intelligence + Research, followed by an invitation to contribute to Microsoft’s Quantum program on the contracting and partnerships front. We talk a lot about impact in the Microsoft Quantum program and this is precisely what my current role has afforded me – the satisfaction of knowing that I can and need to bring my A-game to work every day and that it has impact. Plus, now I get to enthrall my kids with the vision of future compute not just in the context of gaming but also in combatting global warming!

Sarah Marshall – Quantum Software Engineer

Sarah Marshall bio pictureQ: Tell us more about your role in the Microsoft Quantum group. What exciting things are you working on right now?

I joined Microsoft Quantum just last month as a software engineer. I help improve the Q# programming language and its compiler, which are at the core of Microsoft’s quantum software stack. Right now, I’m working on adding a new feature to Q#: access modifiers! This feature gives you the ability to create functions, operations or types that can only be used by specific parts of a program, which will make it easier to write cleaner, more modular Q# code. I think that this is an important feature for any programming language to have, so I’m excited to be bringing it to Q# as part of my new role here!

Q: What was it that attracted you to the technology field? How and why did you decide to join the domain of quantum computing?

I’ve had an interest in computing for as long as I can remember. When I was little, I learned how to make my own websites and programs for fun, just so I could understand more about how computers worked. I think programming appeals to me for two big reasons. Making a program is a fun puzzle, and it’s satisfying to organize my code in a logical way so that it makes the most sense and looks neat and tidy. In addition to that, in the end, you have something interactive that you can play around with and show to other people, which is really rewarding. So when I went to college, pursuing a computer science degree seemed like a natural choice.

In addition to programming, I’ve also been interested in physics, and especially quantum mechanics, for a long time. It probably came from watching a lot of science documentaries on PBS when I was a kid. In college, I took a few physics classes and really enjoyed them. At some point, I heard about quantum computers and wanted to know more because they looked like a cool combination of two of my favorite things: computer science and quantum physics. I was interested in how different they were from classical computers and the potential for them to solve new problems that classical computers can’t solve in a reasonable amount of time.

I tried reading a quantum computing textbook and asking a professor for help with understanding some of the trickier concepts, but I struggled a lot with the math and I felt like I wasn’t getting a good grasp on it. A few months later I took a class about quantum computing taught by Krysta Svore, Microsoft Quantum’s general manager. The class was really hard, but I also learned a lot, and I felt like I was finally starting to understand how quantum computers really worked. This class led to an internship at Microsoft Quantum, where I worked on the Q# compiler, and that internship led to the full-time position that I have now.

Anita Ramanan – Senior Quantum Software Engineer

Anita Ramanan bio pictureQ: Tell us more about your role in the Microsoft Quantum group. What exciting things are you working on right now?

I work in the Quantum Solutions team, where we develop Quantum Inspired Optimization (QIO) algorithms to tackle some of our customers’ most complex problems. In my role as a Quantum Software Engineer, I take these QIO algorithms developed by researchers in my team and apply them to real-world scenarios. I also get to do a lot of public speaking – most recently I traveled to South Africa for a summer school where I introduced students to quantum computing at Microsoft and programming with Q#, which was an amazing experience.

Q: What was it that attracted you to the technology field? How and why did you decide to join the domain of quantum computing?

I studied Natural Sciences at university, with a focus on Atomic and Particle Physics and Physical Chemistry. I particularly enjoyed learning about quantum mechanics and I took modules focused on quantum computing as part of my degree. I also discovered gaming while at university, which got me interested in tech as I started building desktops and experimenting with writing add-ons for games I was playing – it was this curiosity that led me to apply to Microsoft’s graduate program back in 2014. Since then, I’ve been lucky to come full circle and shift my focus back towards quantum computing, combining both my passions. I love solving problems and this field gives me the unique opportunity to work with a team of amazing, inspiring people to explore solutions that are stretching the limits of computing.

Meet more of The Women of Microsoft Quantum in Part 2 of this series next week.

This is just a small sample of the amazing people on the Microsoft Quantum team. If you want to join us as we build the quantum future, we’re hiring!