Tag Archives: Sun Labs

In Memory of Danny Cohen

Danny Cohen VOIP talk 2009

I was very sorry to learn of the passing of Internet Pioneer Danny Cohen this week (1937-2019). Danny and I worked together at Sun Microsystems Labs in Menlo Park, California. These pictures are from a talk Danny gave in 2009 about VOIP and the start of the internet, from just 4 sites in 1969 to 45 sites in 1974.

Danny and I worked together on several projects:

  • Danny was a mentor four times in the Sun Engineering Enrichment and Development (SEED) program I ran 2001-2010 for worldwide Engineering. I remember him asking humbly why anyone would want him for a mentor? I said that anyone who created the first real-time visual flight simulator on a general purpose computer, and the first real-time radar simulator, and who helped create the Internet itself was someone worth learning from. He was never convinced.
  • Danny and I shared a fascination with maps, particularly with how Beck’s 1931 London Subway map changed how the world thinks about illustrating transport networks. He contributed to the wall of maps outside of my Sun Labs office.
  • We worked together in 2010 to create Danny’s Wikipedia biography. Again, he was not sure why anyone would want to know but he kept coming back to answer more questions and review what we had so far.

My husband, John Plocher, and Danny and I attended Edward Tufte’s class on “Presenting Data and Information” together in 2008. In 2010 as Sun Labs was transitioning to Oracle, I took the pictures below of Danny’s office.

Rest in peace old friend.

Danny Cohen VOIP talk 2009 - ARPA Request 1968 VOIP talk 2009
Danny Cohen VOIP talk 2009 VOIP talk 2009
Danny Cohen VOIP talk 2009 VOIP talk 2009
Danny Cohen VOIP talk 2009 - ARPAnet 1969 VOIP talk 2009
Danny Cohen VOIP talk 2009 - ARPAnet 1874 VOIP talk 2009
Sun Microsystems Labs map wall 2010 Sun Labs Map Wall
Danny Cohen's Sun Labs Office January 2010 IEEE Fellow Certificate – Danny’s Office
Danny Cohen's Sun Labs Office January 2010 USC Certificate – Building the Internet – Danny’s Office
Danny Cohen's Sun Labs Office January 2010 DARPA – Birth of the Internet – Danny’s Office
Danny Cohen's Sun Labs Office January 2010 Bookshelf – Danny’s Office

Pictures Copyright 2009-2010 by Katy Dickinson


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Expert Mentoring Advice: Best Practices / Worst Practices

7 Best Practices _ Worst Practices

I think this has been the single most popular 1-page mentoring summary I ever published:

“Best Practices / Worst Practices” may have been published in other places as well – please tell me if you see it!
12/27/2014: another reference published by talentmanagement360.com.

To get “Mentoring in a Box” free:

  • Sign up using the Mentoring in a Box Registration (registration allows Everwise to follow up with updates)
  • Once you have had a chance to review “Mentoring in a Box” material, Please take this short survey so Everwise knows how to improve.

9/16/2015 update: Several of the documents in “Mentoring in a Box” have been updated and are available by Mentoring Standard.

Steven Spielberg

Sara Blakely

“Expert Mentoring Advice: Best Practices / Worst Practices” is adapted from “Sun Mentoring: 1996-2009” SMLI TR-2009-18, by Katy Dickinson, Tanya Jankot, and Helen Gracon. Copyright 2009, Sun Microsystems, Inc.. All rights reserved. Unlimited copying without fee is permitted provided that the copies are not made nor distributed for direct commercial advantage, and credit to the source is given.

Links updated 13 June 2020

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3 Mentoring Resources


In preparing to go to the American Association of University Women (AAUW) national convention in New Orleans, Louisiana, next week, I have made three mentoring resources available for easy and free download:


Images Copyright 2013 by Katy Dickinson

19 October 2019: Links updated. The conference book version of Triangular Partnership: the Power of the Diaspora is available for free download. For more about MentorCloud business practices, see Collecting a Labor Judgement (15 January 2016).

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Building a Community Through Mentoring


In my Katysblog entry yesterday “Sheryl Sandberg, Leaning In on Mentoring“, I included a quote from Ms. Sandberg’s March 2013 book Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead:

Many companies are starting to move from informal mentoring that relies on individual initiative to more formal programs. When taken seriously, these formal mentorship/sponsorship programs can be remarkably successful.

One of the sometimes-unexpected successes of formal mentoring programs is the development of a strong long-term community of mentors and mentees who have come to know and respect each other through the program.  These communities can continue far beyond the boundaries of the company or program that created them.

Some examples:

  • I have written frequently about the Sun Microsystems mentoring programs participated in by over 7,000 employees from 1996-2009. Over 630 of those who joined my Sun Engineering mentoring program (SEED) chose to join a private LinkedIn group to stay in communication after Sun was purchased by Oracle in 2009. I am sure more continue to work and learn with each other through through professional and private connections.  The initial match between one mentor and one mentee quickly becomes the base for more complex and lasting relationships: the mentor introduces the mentee to associates or recommends him for a position, the mentee becomes a mentor herself and introduces her new mentee to her own mentor, etc.  In 2010-2011, when I was the Process Architect for the U.S. State Department’s TechWomen mentoring program, many of the potential mentors I contacted to join the new program were former Sun mentoring program participants.
  • In July 2011, toward the end of the first TechWomen term, I wrote a Katysblog entry called “37 Sisters – TechWomen“. That feeling of family, of a strong and growing US-MENA-based sisterhood, has only increased since then. The photo above was taken after our Successful Panel at the October, 2012 Grace Hopper Conference in Baltimore, Maryland, when several dozen TechWomen mentors,  mentees, and staff from the 2011 and 2012 terms met to celebrate. Fifty of us gathered again in February 2013 to join the TechWomen delegation to Jordan.  The photo below shows us at Injaz, one of the many schools and programs we visited in Jordan to talk with local girls and young women about STEM, TechWomen, and TechGirls.

The worlds of STEM and the Silicon Valley in particular are small places.  Even though there are over seven million people in the San Francisco Bay Area, after a few years working here, it becomes hard to to go anywhere without meeting folks you know.  Professional trust and connections, such as those built and supported by formal mentoring programs, enhance both reputation and effectiveness.

Last Import-109

Images Copyright 2012-2013 by Katy Dickinson

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Fostering Triangular Partnership, Professional Mentoring


The conference version of the book Triangular Partnership: the Power of the Diaspora (including the chapter “Professional Mentoring – Fostering Triangular Partnership”) is available for free download.

“Triangular Partnership” is a term used by People to People to describe the relationship of three global groups:

  • Diaspora
  • Developing Countries Institutions
  • Western Institutions

Some background:

How does professional mentoring interact with this Triangular Partnership, and with the global diaspora in particular?

Here are three successful professional mentoring programs in which the global diaspora takes a key role:

  • Below are two pie charts showing a summary of 2001-2009 data on mentor and mentee work locations (from p.77 of the Sun Microsystems Labs Technical Report: “Sun Mentoring: 1996-2009″ by Katy Dickinson, Tanya Jankot and Helen Gracon). As you can see, for this Sun Microsystems world-wide Engineering mentoring program, the largest number of both mentors and mentees were based in the USA (green), compared to those based in APAC (Asia-Pacific Region, blue) and EMEA (Europe-Middle East-Africa Region, red). Even so, there was a disproportionate number mentors based in the USA (more than in APAC and EMEA combined). In 2009, when this data was analyzed, Sun had about 15,000 Engineering staff distributed among thirty locations around the world, including large campuses in China, India and Europe – but most of Sun’s Engineering staff was in the USA. These charts show professional mentors’ willingness to engage in successful mentoring relationships beyond borders in order to build and strengthen a community.
MenteeLocation.Sun2009 . MentorLocation.Sun2009
  • A second example of mentors’ and western institutions’ willingness to reach beyond their national boundaries for a greater good is the TechWomen mentoring program, an initiative of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA). For TechWomen 2011, there were thirty-seven mentees from six Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) countries. For TechWomen 2012, there were forty-two mentees from eight MENA countries. All mentees were hosted at Silicon Valley companies for a month while working with both Professional and Cultural mentor volunteers from over fifty companies and organizations in the San Francisco Bay Area. TechWomen has been so successful that its size was doubled for 2013 and the geographic area expanded to include Sub-Saharan Africa, in addition to MENA. The purpose of TechWomen is to bring people together for greater understanding and to empower women and girls worldwide. In both TechWomen and the Sun Microsystems mentoring programs, many of the US-based mentors were either immigrants themselves or the children of immigrants. Sometimes those immigrant mentors or their families were from the same country as their mentee (a direct-diaspora connection), but most times not.
  • A final mentoring program example showing a more-direct diaspora connection was the sold-out December 2012 Inaugural Open Mentoring Session, presented by TiE Silicon Valley as part of their TiE SV MentorConnect program with MentorCloud. About TiE: “TiE, a not-for-profit global network of entrepreneurs and professionals, was founded in 1992 in Silicon Valley, California, USA. Although its birth name, The Indus Entrepreneurs, signifies the ethnic South Asian or Indus roots of the founders, TiE stands for Talent, Ideas and Enterprise. It is an open and inclusive organization that has rapidly grown to more than 57 chapters in 14 countries.” Feedback on the Open Mentoring Session: 82% of mentees completed the post-event survey and rated the event as “Highly Recommended” or “Recommended”. 90% of them said the event “exceeded” their expectations, and a whopping 95% said they would recommend a similar session to their friends.

These examples have shown two legs of the triangle – Diaspora and Western Institutions – using mentoring for community building, mutual-understanding, and professional growth. To see mentoring connections with the triangle’s third leg – Developing Countries Institutions – check out the customer logos on the MentorCloud home page, including:

  • Global Science and Technology Foundation (GSTF) – Sub-Sahara African Universities
  • Indian Institute of Science Alumni Association (IIScAA) – Knowledge Exchange Programme
  • International diaspora Engagement Alliance (IdEA)
  • The SABLE Accelerator – The South African Business Link to Experts
  • TechWadi – Building Bridges for Entrepreneurship – MENA region
  • TiE Silicon Valley
  • University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa (Wits)


Images Copyright 2012 by Katy Dickinson

19 October 2019: Post links updated. For more about MentorCloud business practices, see Collecting a Labor Judgement (15 January 2016).

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8 Essays on Mentoring


MentorCloud has been asked to contribute a chapter to a book being edited by one of our customers. As I did when writing “Sun Mentoring: 1996-2009“, I am putting together chapter section drafts piece by piece, published in this blog and on the MentorCloud blog as they are developed. (By the way, Oracle is no longer distributing the Sun Microsystems Labs Technical Report: “Sun Mentoring: 1996-2009″  by Katy DickinsonTanya Jankot and Helen Gracon, but it is still available for free download on our family website and is also available for purchase from the ACM Digital Library.)  Here are the eight essays I have published so far:

Images Copyright 2013 by Katy Dickinson

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IEEE Photographer


Huawei is hosting the 3-day IEEE Hot Interconnects conference in Santa Clara, California, this week and I am pleased to be the official event photographer. Yesterday was the first day of this 20th anniversary conference. It has been fun to see so many colleagues and friends from the Sun Labs diaspora, including Radia Perlman (called “The Mother of the Internet”, first woman to be a Sun Microsystems Fellow, many-time mentor in my SEED program, holder of more than 200 granted US patents, now an Intel Fellow). She gave a fascinating talk called “Network Myths and Mysteries.”

I am taking pictures again today – and posting them on the new IEEE Hot Interconnects Pinterest page.





Images Copyright 2012. All Rights Reserved

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