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June 27, 2017
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Women in Big Data Executive Panel – What I have Learned?

Women in Tech, Women in STEM, Big Data, Dataworks Summit, Dataworks Summit 2017, DWS17

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

A top 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?

Women in Tech, Women in STEM, DataWorks Summit, DataWorks Summit San Jose 2017


Lauren says:

Normally I don’t voice my opinions publicly but I feel this is worth sharing.

I work with Tendu Yogurtcu, currently as an individual contributor here at Syncsort. Recently, I stepped up for a Management role that admittedly was just beyond my current skill sets. Tendu’s advice to me was so encouraging and empowering, and she had the same advice here on the panel: Do not – under any circumstances – ever undermine your potential and worth to any organization by not stepping up! Always step up with conviction and confidence, never with the idea that you may not be a fit because of this or that, but why you ARE a fit and focus on that instead. Either way, as I discovered for myself, it’s a step in the right direction and you will be recognized for your ambition.

This is probably best career advice I will ever receive, and yes, it makes it all the more valuable because of who it comes from, a female CTO who has worked her way up the corporate ladder over 20 years.

Radhika had similar advice and it’s spot on! If you hear no, show why the answer should be yes.

Thank you to all the women on this panel for inspiring others!

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