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Women in Big Data: What Have We Learned?

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Women in Big Data: What Have We Learned?

Diversity is about differences of our experiences, not gender differences. Check out what some major women in big data discussed at the recent Women in Big Data Luncheon.

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I had the honor and pleasure to host an executive panel at “Women in Big Data Luncheon” on June 13 during the DataWorks Summit in San Jose.

Our distinctive panelists included:

  • Anu Jain, Senior Director, Big Data Platforms, Tools and Products, Target.
  • Tendu Yogurtcu, CTO, Syncsort.
  • Suja Viswesan, Big Data Platform, LinkedIn.
  • Alison Biggan, Global Head of Product/Industry Marketing, SAP.
  • Radhika Rangarajan, Founder of Women in Big Data, Director of Big Data, Intel.

I want to thank the panelists for such an inspiring and fun conversation. Second, thanks to the 200+ men and women who attended, supported, and actively participated in our luncheon. It was exciting to see the huge number of men who came out to support and to cheer us on. Diversity is about differences of our experiences rather than our gender difference.

Our conversation started with the hot technology trends, which coincided with the DataWorks Summit theme this year. These topics included artificial intelligence, machine learning, and Apache Spark.

We also discussed the thought process when making big career choices. Tendu from Syncsort brought up a great point about taking a risk when stepping up to become a GM from her previous technical role. She highlighted how that unique experience empowered and enabled her in the Chief Technology Officer role. Another panelist, Alison, left Business Objects when it was being acquired by SAP to join a small company and later returned to SAP with a refreshed perspective and a promotion.

Another topic we reviewed included our experiences facing adversity. Radhika from Intel had a great story to tell. She said, “The only word for no is no, and sometimes no doesn’t mean no.” She recommends watching this video about negotiating. She wanted to transition from being an individual contributor to a manager. The first time, she was not accepted. She decided to write her own job description with a detailed plan on resources and ROI for the company and pitched it to senior management. At that time, she was promoted to manager and has been on that path since.

Atop of mind matter, we focused on included the importance of work-life balance as busy career professionals. Anu has two kids that she wants to spend time with during her busy schedule. She designed her work hours so that she will make sure her kids have home cooked food and she can work out on a regular basis.

For our last topic, Suja answered the audience question about fitting into a group that members were more male than female. Suja mentioned to proactively facilitate the communication by attending regular happy hours with her team members (male or female).

Personally, I walked away with quite a few best practices and tips I can use in my daily life. I enjoyed the conversation tremendously. I look forward to doing this again next year at DataWorks Summit.

Did you attend the panel? What were your takeaways?

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