ABI and WiBD Present: Careers in Big Data Panel

On August 21, 2017, ABI.Silicon Valley (Anita Borg Institute) teamed up with Women in Big Data to present a panel discussion comprised of experts from the Big Data and tech communities. The goal was to bring together women in tech organizations and women in industry panelists to inform, to inspire and to connect the community.

Regina Karson, Steph Tung, Helen Kim,Telle Whitney, Ziya Ma, Erika Lunceford, Jenn Bow

Helen Kim, Regina Karson

The concept for the event started with Regina Karson‘s idea to partner with ABI, enabling WiBD and ABI  to work together to expand community reach.  Regina approached Deepti Gupta, a community lead with ABI.SV, and proposed a joint session on data science.  Deepti pitched the idea to Helen Kim at eBay, who graciously agreed to host the event.

First up were speakers from various Women in Technology organizations:

  • Sonia Miglani, Senior Product Manager at eBay and a lead speaker at eBay Women in Technology (eWIT), discussed eBay’s community efforts.
  • Steph Tung, Product Operations, Uber, representing ABI.Silicon Valley, talked about ABI’s vision and mission. Download her presentation here.
  • Karen Matthys, Executive Director, External Partners at Stanford’s Institute for Computational & Mathematical Engineering, discussed how ICME is dealing the issues facing women in academia. Karen pointed out the problem with retention of women in technology. Faced with an unfriendly environment, women fall out at huge numbers. In 2016, she noted, the percentage of women in Engineering, Computer Science, and Mathematics actually declined compared to 2006 (a fact noted by other speakers as well). The problem is not just bringing women into the field, but also creating an atmosphere for them to stay in and thrive. Download presentation here.
  • Wendy Fong, Director of Industrial Relations, Lehigh University, noted that Lehigh is the only dually accredited Computer Science and Business program in the country. Professor Brian Davison teaches an Introduction to Data Science Course as part of a Lehigh Certificate Program in Business Analytics.  Contact her at wendy.fong@lehigh.edu if you are interested either interested in mentoring/sponsoring a team of students or in attending a January, 2018 short course in Santa Clara.
  • Regina Karson, Principal at RKC and a committee member at Women in Big Data (WiBD), presented Women in Big Data. Download Regina’s presentation here.

Sonia Miglani, Steph Tung, Karen Matthys, Wendy Fong

The panel discussion was next, where the group discussed a number of questions about Data Science, diversity at their respective companies, and women’s careers

Moderators:

  • Regina Karson, Principal RKC & Women in Big Data core (WiBD)
  • Steph Tung, Manager Uber & ABI Silicon Valley community leader (ABI.SV)

Panelists:

  • Helen Kim, VP of Business Operations for Product and Technology, eBay
  • Telle Whitney, CEO and President, Anita Borg Institute
  • Ziya Ma, Vice President, Software and Services Group; Director, STO Big Data Technologies
  • Erika Lunceford, Client Technology Relationship Management and Client Engagement Technology Services at BNY Mellon
  • Jenn Bow, Head of Consumer Platform, Oracle

Telle Whitney, Ziya Ma, Erika Lunceford, Jenn Bow

Question 1: How are companies using data science?

Regina Karson, Principal at RKC and a committee member at Women in Big Data (WiBD), presented on Data Science history, composition, and used her presentation as a primer to the panel discussion to follow, and included pointers to data science resources. Download Regina’s presentation here.

Helen Kim talked about eBay’s use of Data analytics to improve buyers and sellers experience. It is also being used to provide recommendations for when visitors search on eBay, for delivery time estimates to help with the placement of the items for sale, and for inventory intelligence.

Telle Whitney explained how ABI uses data science in their data acquisition and surveys to analyze the women in tech landscape.

Ziya Ma gave a very interesting technical overview of Intel’s use of data science, especially AI, in various hardware integrating products and services.  Intel’s goal is to provide an environment that enables AI. View Ziya’s slides here.

Erika Lunceford explained that BNY Mellon Wealth Management has been managing wealth since America began creating it. It started as the Bank of New York with $500,000 in capital, with Alexander Hamilton as one of the bank’s directors in 1784! Now, with trillions of dollars in assets under their management, they must use a lot of technology and innovations as part of their digital transformation.  Erika gave an overview of their enormous technological portfolio. You can download Erika’s deck here.

Jenn Bow, the Head of Consumer Platforms at Oracle Data Cloud, described how her company uses Data as a Service (DaaS), Software as a Service (SaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) to create a holistic view of customers for other companies. Jenn’s deck is available here.

Question 2: Describe your career trajectories.

Panelists echoed each other in providing common themes of advice, including:

  • Take risks and go to start ups.
  • Find advocates and mentors as early as possible in your career.
  • Connect with people who will know what you know and share your interests.
  • Think about your dream job and move closer to that area of technology to build knowledge and experience.
  • Never allow yourself to be discouraged by others. Perseverance, your ability to “continue to show up”, will help you in the long run!
  • And, this slogan put out by Jenn Bow: “Ask stupid questions productively”.

Question 3: What is your company’s approach to diversity and inclusion?

Panelists discussed the different ways that their companies cooperate with groups and communities working on the subject.

Erika Lunceford discussed her interest in helping women in their mid-careers and the importance of the effort to bring back to tech those who left for various reasons.

Jenn Bow made a crucial remark: “How can I hire women if they don’t apply?” That pretty much summarized the evening for many of us: “If you don’t apply, you will certainly not be accepted!”

Thanks so much to all our sponsors, organizers, presenters, panelists, and attendees for making this a really great event!

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