Community Interview with Lisa Feigenbaum (Beth Massi)

Community Interview with Lisa Feigenbaum (Beth Massi)

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Continuing the community interviews from our Italian Visual Basic MVP Alessandro Del Sole, this time we interview Lisa Feigenbaum, now a Visual Basic Community Program Manager! Cool!

Remember that you can take a look at the Visual Basic Team page for pictures and bios and visit the home page of the Visual Basic Developer Center for a link to all these interviews as well.

Here's the interview with Lisa:

1. Nice to meet you Lisa! Let’s begin by asking a simple question: Where are you from?

Los Angeles, California

2. We all know that you’re a Visual Basic team member, but can you tell us something more about your role inside the team?

My current role is Community Program Manager. This means that I get to work on team community activities, including the MVP program, the VB team blog, conferences, and more. I find ways to get the product team involved in community activities, and help make sure we are satisfying our *large* user base of Visual Basic developers. :-) I also work very closely with Beth Massi who runs the VB online community activities, including the VB Dev Center.

Before my current role, I spent several years as Program Manager for the Editor and Debugger. This included fun features like intelliSense, code snippets, edit-and-continue, and more.

3. What’s your favorite Visual Basic feature, in the language and/or the IDE?

First, let me tell you that everyone is biased on this question. :-) I predict that every team member will suggest his or her own feature (except for the ones that try to prove me wrong!) Here is a video that Beth conducted with the language design team, where this very same incident occurred!

Following with that prediction, my favorite Visual Basic feature is intelliSense. It saves you typing, it saves you time, and it helps prevent errors before they happen – it’s the quintessential VB productivity feature!

4. What makes VB a great programming language?

What makes VB great is really the whole experience – the language, IDE, and tooling support combined. It’s the RAD drag & drop, it’s the background compiler instantly reporting errors and warnings, it’s the prettylister that inserts your parens, the dropdowns to insert event handlers, it’s the With statement, it’s XML literals, it’s the awesome query support, and more! It’s the language that lets you achieve your maximum productivity.

5. What brought you to Microsoft, and how long have you been working there? What was your occupation before joining the VB team?

Maybe first I should answer what brought me to software…  My M.S. & B.A. degrees are in Applied Mathematics, so my first exposure to programming was in math and engineering classes, where we used Matlab, Mathematica, Maple, and Python. There were several occasions for programming. One was to visualize solutions to engineering problems in some kind of UI. Another was to compute results from the discrete models we approximated for analog equations, using numerical analysis. Outside of school, I did a series of internships that were software-related: a website for the Caltech seismology department, cardiology software for Cedars-Sinai hospital, and visual effects for Digital Domain.

When talking with Microsoft recruiters, I was very interested in the company and in the role. I liked the fact that Microsoft brings together so many different industries. I like that the Program Manager role involves both design & technical work, opportunities for creativity, and lots of people interactions, both internally and customers. I was very happy to work on Visual Studio. I remember my experience senior year when they finally let us use VS for the first time our school projects, and I was so thrilled by the product! Tasks that used to take 10min were reduced to 1 or 2. Very cool product.

I’ve been on the VB team for 4 years now, and just celebrated my anniversary by bringing 4 batches of home-made banana muffins for the team!

6. What’s it like working for Microsoft?

Exciting! So many technologies and industries to keep up with. So many smart & analytical people to work with. So many great opportunities to learn, grow, and make a difference. I’m not bored yet. :-)

7. Tell us something about your life outside of the office (how do you like to spend your free time, when you go out, when you’re at home, etc.)?

I love playing softball, tennis, skiing, swimming, running, camping, traveling, making art, karaoke, and dancing.

8. Who is your favorite musician?

Dave Matthews band, Fiona Apple, Mariah Carey, Blackstreet, Jurassic 5, Justin Timberlake, Nelly – those are a few that I like. Pop, hip hop, and salsa are my favorite genres.

9. What’s your favorite food?

This is a tough question because it is always changing… I usually eat my favorite food too often, then get tired of it and need to find a new one! Growing up, Italian was always my favorite. When I lived in Boston, I got really hooked on Indian and Thai. Since working at Microsoft, my favorite has been Mexican. But now I am also really into Vietnamese!

10. Have you ever been to Italy?

Yes! It was excellent. :-) I traveled during a week-long spring break while I was in college. I visited Rome, Florence, Naples, and Venice. Rome was probably my favorite, with so many exciting historical sites to see; Florence was absolutely beautiful – I enjoyed the museums there too; Naples had great pizza; and Venice the unique canal system. I used to do a lots of glass art in high school, so it was really interesting for me to see all the glass blowing shops in Venice. Of course, every city had great food and wine, too!

Thank you very much for taking time to answer these questions and telling us more about you!

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