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March 08, 2016
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Women in Big Data

I’ve had an unbelievably amazing time since joining  Hortonworks.   One of the great things about a fast growth company, is that we are able to create new initiatives, try new approaches, and move the needle quickly.  We formed the women@hortonworks group late last summer after a few of us were asked to attend the inaugural Women in Big Data event.  There I was asked to give a talk about being a woman in technology and specifically in Big Data.  So as we began to plan our International Women’s Day (March 8th) and a week long of events at the company, I thought about sharing my talk more broadly in this blog.

What is Big Data?   I thought of all sorts of words to describe Big Data but also thought of the acronym – BD.  BD stands for Business Development.  BD stands for Big Data… but what else does BD stand for?  Why should Women be in BD?  It all came together in words that started with the letter B and words that started with the letter D.   B-words that sprang in my head included Big, Brilliant, Better, Beautiful, Build, etc.  D-words came in a jumble such as Data, Decisions, Digital, Delight, Discuss, Diversity, Driven, etc.

I spent a few days just thinking of B and D words and jotting them down on paper whenever I thought of a word.  Then I started seeing some really cool BD combinations emerge and thinking about how the B and D words actually told a story about Big Data, and related to Women in Big Data.  When I put my two lists together (B and D words), here’s what actually emerged in a random way:


Then I saw some really cool combinations and saw how these all related to each other.


Picture2Big Data is Beyond Dimensions.  We can’t even imagine how vast Big Data really is.   More data is being generated every split second of every day.   How can we harness this data?  We need more data scientists and bright minds to “see” beyond the dimensions of Big Data and into All Data.  Using Big Data to solve problems not solvable just a few years ago.  Everyone has a new opportunity to see beyond dimensions.



Big Data isn’t just a business challenge or opportunity; it is also an opportunity for developers.  It’s about Business and Developers. Together, business people and developers will be able to harness the value of Big Data and create unique insights for all of us – about our business, the market, our customers, their customers, and the world at large.



What do women bring to this equation of Big Data?   Because of the advancements in brain science and known differences in men anPicture4d women’s brains, all brains can work together to solve challenges and come together with solutions.  Women tend to think through problems differently than men, so let’s bring the power of all our unique brains together to solve challenges.  Think about people that have learning challenges such as dyslexia – they see the world in a completely different way.  There is sheer power in celebrating brain differences and harnessing the combined power.


Women need to be bold and participate in the dialogue about Big Data.  They also need to be bold and drive a dialogue about women in technology.  Women and men have a voice, and they need to be heard everywhere, not just at work, in the schools, in the community, everywhere.  Women in particular should take this opportunity and trend in Big Data to be decisive about their careers in Big Data.  Be decisive and bold about the answers they “see” in Big Data.   Make decisions, don’t hold back, be bold and make it happen.


Data is Beautiful.  Numbers are truth.  Big Data is about beautiful differentiation of the possibilities for a company, people and society.  We are learning so much from the data being generated.  Let’s celebrate the beauty and differentiation of the data.  See it for what it is.



I believe and dream of a world where we don’t have a discussion about Women in Big Data; that it is a given.  I dream of a world and believe this will happen where everyone has an opportunity in technology, in Big Data to make a difference in the world.  I believe and dream this for my daughters and sons, and everyone.


I love the word Brilliant.   It shines and sparkles, simply.  Brilliant diversity is key to all of our success as business people.  We need diverse opinions, viewpoints, decisions, because our end customer or consumer is more than likely one of us.  They are diverse.   Be as diverse as our customers and as brilliant as can be.


Do you see a combination of BD that speaks to you?  Big Data is another opportunity for all of us to change the ways of the past, to predict and lead to a better future, and to really leave a lasting legacy in this world.  Think through what this might mean for you, your daughters and sons, your business and our society.


Finally, as we celebrate International Women’s Day, I simply want to thank some of the  Brilliant, Decisive, Bold women of Hortonworks.




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