A Coffee with Annabelle Buffart

Busy doesn’t even begin to describe a day in the life of Annabelle Buffart. On top of a full-time consultancy position at Agile Partner, the self-proclaimed “geekette” transmits her passion for tech and entrepreneurship by organizing events and workshops for Café Numérique in Arlon and WIDE in Luxembourg. Luckily, Annabelle found time for a coffee with Silicon to fill us in on the projects that keep her tech wheels turning.

How did you get involved in Café Numérique?

It all started about four years ago at a Café Numérique event in Liège. I was in charge of organizing the drinks, which is quite fitting actually as the whole Café Numérique concept started in a bar in Brussels! When I moved to Arlon, I was asked to create one there, and I jumped at the chance.

Arlon is the smallest provincial capital in Belgium. Why is there such a big tech scene in the city?

Many developers working in Luxembourg live in Arlon, so Café Numérique indeed attracts a very “techy” crowd which is happy to have tech-related events so close to home. Every June and December we hold an Apéro Numérique open to anyone in “la Grande Région”(Luxembourg, Belgium and France). It is an opportunity for everyone to present their IT startup projects to a large audience. The events are so popular that we’ve even had to put some of our speakers on a waiting list.

What has been your favorite event at Café Numérique so far?

That’s not an easy question, as I’ve loved all the events we’ve hosted to date. If I had to choose, then I’d say the Tesla event last month. It was logistically the hardest event to coordinate, but was a huge success.

Who would be your dream speaker at a Café Numérique conference?

Elon Musk, the co-founder and CEO of Tesla Motors; I would love to hear him talk about innovation. And if we could rewind about 170 years, I would invite Ada Lovelace to speak about algorithms and the challenges she faced as a female mathematician and computer programmer in the mid-19th century.

You organize workshops and events for WIDE (Women in Digital Empowerment). Are you seeing more and more women launching tech startups?

Unfortunately not enough! That’s why I got involved with Girls in Tech. We then decided to go more local and focus on Luxembourg, and so WIDE was born. We want to show women that you don’t have to be an experienced developer to work in tech and that absolutely anything can be learned. Women often don’t choose to go into IT because of stereotyping, so we’re working hard to promote the digital industry and entrepreneurship through WIDE. With support from the Ministère de l’Egalité des chances (Ministry of Equal Opportunities), we organize workshops to teach women how to make a cloud, for example, or how to launch a website with Amazon. The objective is to inspire women to join the tech community.

What advice do you have for women wanting to make waves in the tech industry?

Just do it! Don’t be afraid and don’t procrastinate. You need to fail to learn. The future is now!

On your website, Annabelle.io, you describe yourself as a “Geekette”. Have you always had a penchant for all things tech?

Yes! My first gadget was a Game Boy Pocket when I was eight years old and I spent ages trying to download games onto a blank cartridge. My favorite gadget right now is the Nabaztag Rabbit. It tells the time and alerts me when I receive emails or messages. I’ve named it Darpa (for reasons other Geeks and Geekettes will understand!) and it does Tai-chi with its ears! And my latest obsession is the Withings app. It is a smart body analyzer, connected to both my phone and my watch, that tracks activity, heart rate, weight and sleep cycles.

Three words to describe your journey so far?

Not enough time!

This article was first published in SILICON

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