More Details About the CityLIGHTS 2019 Award Night

My LinkedIn just went viral yesterday, I had almost two thousand views within the first 24 hours of my post appearance, and a number is still growing. My likes present all my employment history :). I also got a couple of reposts and very warm congratulations. And everybody is asking for “more details.”  

Well… I do not even know where to start! So, as they say, I will start from the beginning :). I did not know whether I will be a winner or not. Two days before the event, I received a reminder email from the organizers which outlined the course of events throughout the night. It said that if I win, I need to give a 2-minute acceptance speech. I didn’t want to think too much about it and didn’t rehearse it, but I thought a little bit about whom I should thank if I won.

The VIP reception for the finalists plus one guest started a half-hour before the event. 

I barely knew a couple of people there, so I socialized somewhat moderately by my standards.

Then we all went down (the even was at Morgan Manufacturing in the West Loop) and joined the crowd. And let me tell you – it was a crowd indeed!!! You could hardly walk through it! 

I talked with one of my former co-workers, who now combines his work in the industry with teaching. I reiterated that I am willing to speak to his students, and asked to email me. Then we all were invited to the main banquet room and made an effort to find our table:).

The even was gigantic! I think there were at least 60 tables, and each table had from 9 to 15 people. There was a plate with a special appetizer at each place. 

My CEO made a surprise appearance (officially we only had three tickets, since each ticket cost $300). So there were four of us: our CEO, Stephanie, our President Thomas and our CTO (my manager) Bob. 

Official picture taken before dinner
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Before dinner, there were some speeches and introductory video, and it was even louder than during both receptions. I felt that I am starting to lose my voice and thought that if I need to give a speech, I will need it :). So I stopped talking and explained why, although I still thought it’s impolite. 

After the dinner was over (by the way, desserts could be more and better!), the actual program started. This year was the 20th anniversary of the ITA CityLIGHTS award, so it was all about a special celebration. For each of the nominations, one of the previous winners was chosen to present this year’s award. For each nomination, it would start from the short video where finalists answered some host’s questions. I hated mine because I had my eyes closed 75% of the time. And during the video shooting, I’ve asked explicitly to tell me whether my eyes are closed! So I am not going to post it :). 

Finally, it was time for a “Technologist of the Year” award, and guy who presented this award was a professor from Northwestern. And he was saying something to the effect of how he is especially happy to announce the winner, and then I heard my name! 

I did not hear what he was saying about me, because I started to make my way to the stage. 

I did my acceptance speech which I posted earlier, and then the official photos.

And by the way, here is how this champaign bottle looks like:

Everything is engraved on the glass, so I am going to save this bottle!

My co-workers congratulated me and hugged me and were almost tearful.  

When the main event was over, and participants were either leaving or heading to the bar, lots of people approached me with congratulations. I barely had time to say, “thank you!” Some of them were saying – remember, we were together in the room for promotional video? Remember we met at the finalists’ announcement? A journalist who wrote the piece about me for Huffington Post in 2014 approached me and asked whether I remember that she wrote that piece :). I told her – yes, and I still point to it when people ask me about my story!  

It all felt great! 

A couple other things I wanted to mention. 

On Friday, everybody in the office congratulated me, and there were donuts :).

There was an article in Crain’s Chicago Business about this event.

And our CEO posted about this award in a very personal and touching way. Here is a link to her post, and I am going to paste it here, because Steph’s words mean so much for me.

I’m so lucky to be a small part of Henrietta Dombrovskaya‘s journey to Illinois Technology Association (ITA) 2019 Technologist of the Year! Hettie is a DB guru, a researcher and lifelong learner, a teacher, an implementer, an author, and above all, an amazing human being who gives back in so many ways to her colleagues, to hashtag#Chicago, and to the broader hashtag#PostgreSQL and hashtag#Technology communities! Congratulations to Braviant Holdings employee #6, Hettie! You are so deserving!

And the very-very last thing :). I am shamelessly proud of the fact, that I was the only female of all the finalists, and the only one not CTO/CPO 🙂

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