Bittencourt Group Program Manager, Microsoft
Bittencourt has a very unique story. She was the first woman
to launch a telecommunications satellite in Latin America,
and participate with NASA in the recovery of two other satellites.
Bittencourt also pioneered the use of lasers in the Latin
America entertainment industry. She funded two corporations
that are still today delivering state of the art products
in international markets.
originally from Brazil, a very male dominated country, where
women are usually teachers or nurses. Having a woman in
the engineering field is extremely unusual.
her childhood, Bittencourt was always disassembling domestic
appliances to create new ones and sell to her friends and
family. Her family was worried about her skills, and were
wondering how a girl like that could become a good nurse.
all odds and family recommendations, at 14 years old, Bittencourt
joined the best technical school in Brazil, with a scholarship.
At 17 she graduated as an electronic technician. She started
working full-time during the day and attended engineering
school at night. Today she holds an electrical engineering
degree, a master's in telecommunications, a master's in
computer science and almost a degree in music.
her career in Brazil, many times she wondered if she was
doing the right thing. Hearing comments like: "A woman's
place is behind the stove" was part of her day to day. At
23 years old she reached the top of her career in Brazil,
as well as the famous "glass ceiling." She had worked with
NASA, Hughes Aircraft and Telesat for four years. She realized
during that period of time that she had the right education,
the right values, but she was living in the wrong country.
Then the turning point in her life happened, and she decide
to emigrate to America. She believed that in America, the
"glass ceiling" was a little higher, and she could have
more professional opportunities.
everything she had, and came with a backpack to become a
music student at Berkeley College of Music in Boston. It
took her three years washing dishes, cleaning houses and
being a baby sitter, to finally have the right papers to
work again as an engineer.
that, she became Director of software at Number Nine Computer,
developer manager for Lotus Multimedia Products, and today
she is a group program manager at Microsoft. Outside work,
Soraya plays saxophone in a blues band. She also works with
the community to help on the fight against AIDS, and in
the fight for equal rights to everyone.