Food & Culture
Seattle Style Icon: Microsoft’s Dona Sarkar Blends Tech and Fashion
Tech maven Dona Sarkar rocks a tutu
By Andrew Hoge May 9, 2018
From above photo: Off-the-shoulder Italian leather jacket: Pinko | Swarovski crystal monarch butterfly clutch: Luly Yang | Gold patent leather peep-toe platform shoes: Luly Yang | Pink tulle skirt: Wheels & Dollbaby
The idea of a high-fashion tech worker might seem like an oxymoron, but that’s not the case with Dona Sarkar, who expertly wears bold dresses, tights and knee-high boots to work on any given day.
“On my first day at Microsoft, I arrived in a dress and 4-inch heels. People asked me if I worked in PR because I didn’t look like an engineer,” says Sarkar, who holds a degree in computer science and is the head of the Windows Insider Program. “I love pieces that are conversation starters: architectural shapes, colorful prints and interesting fabrics.”
Thirteen years later, and with several high-profile projects under her belt (including HoloLens, Windows Vista and the Windows search experience), Sarkar continues to turn heads as she successfully straddles the worlds of tech, fashion design, blogging (fibonaccisequinsblog.com) and writing (two of her nonfiction books are You Had Me at ‘Hello World’ and How to Salsa in a Sari).
> Sarkar describes her personal style as “armor,” something that aligns with the thick skin she developed as she built her career in Seattle. “I’ve always done what people thought I shouldn’t do,” she says of her choice to work in the tech industry. “But I realized that if you don’t take initiative towards your goals, the people who come after you won’t either.” Her advice on breaking boundaries and chasing your dreams? “Be aware of your time and don’t get hung up on how your work and passions tie together,” she says.
> “There’s a commonly held notion that the tech worker’s uniform consists of a T-shirt, jeans and Birkenstocks—which is fine,” says Sarkar. “But over the past decade, more of us have started to dress up.” She explains that this concept is less surprising in other parts of the world. “I have met entrepreneurs who don’t have money to start their business, but they come to our workshops impeccably dressed. People in Africa, for example, love color and bold prints. In their culture, it’s natural to celebrate and express themselves through fashion. There is no reason that someone cannot do both.”
> Sarkar wants all 7.5 billion people in the world to have exposure to technology. She is inspired by her work with the Windows #Insiders4Good Program’s East Africa Fellowship program, which provides technical training and mentorship opportunities to future business leaders to develop their ideas on how to improve their community locally and globally. “The fashion industry is the second-most-wasteful industry in the world,” Sarkar explains. “Technology can help create sustainable materials and reduce the amount of waste that ends up in landfills.”
WEB EXTRA: See more looks from our photo shoot with Sarkar below! Photos by Hayley Young.