Women In Big Data Düsseldorf Chapter Wrap-up 2019

While Women in Big Data, is a globally mature organisation, the WiBD Chapter in Düsseldorf is still really in its infancy – it is only one year old.

When most of us think of a one year old, we may imagine an infant who is still fumbling their way around, and heavily dependent on adult supervision, but this is by no means, any way to describe this Düsseldorf chapter.  It certainly does however, bring into perspective, just how much this chapter has accomplished, since its founding, a year ago.

In the first year, the chapter has already had a tremendous six meetups as well as six after-work events, 12 momentous opportunities to reach out to their community to Inspire, Connect and Grow.  Their core team has expanded to include some phenomenal women, whose passion it is to empower diversity in their industries, and make their chapter feel less like a get together, and more like home.

They welcome many newcomers as well as quite a few “regulars” to their events, and have inspired and empowered women across their community.  From what I hear, some of their members already have their favourite speakers, and to achieve this type of feedback in one short year is an incredible achievement.

Starting from humble beginnings in September 2018, the Düsseldorf chapter was founded by two extraordinary women, Liisel and Antje.

The Chapter recently interviewed their core team, allowing their members to understand a little more about who they are, and what drives them.

Lisel Jessop – Chapter Co-Founder

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Liisel’s passion is magnetic, immediately drawing members to her.  Watching her in action, one can see why:  She has an absolute passion for diversity and inclusivity, which makes her members feel like they are old friends.

How did the journey of founding Women in Big Data Düsseldorf start for you?

“During my maternity leave, my dear colleague, Nahia Orduna, introduced me to the WiBD forum and asked me if I would be interested in launching a chapter in Düsseldorf. As a mother of two little boys, I was not sure whether I really could or should do it. Soon after returning to work though, I realized that it was the best thing I could do, to balance my time and energy between parenthood, work, my own personal development and my passion for data.”

“I love people, technology and data, and today I can bring these three elements together, to improve products and customer experience, based on data analytics and insights.”

You have brought so much to the Women in Big Data Düsseldorf chapter; can you share with newcomers, what your vision is for WiBD Düsseldorf?

“My vision for the WiBD Düsseldorf chapter is to continue to bring together women from different industries with different backgrounds and in different stages of their lives to learn from each other, explore, get excited and inspired by the beautiful world of data. We want to provide our community members opportunities for mentoring, coaching, becoming public speakers and joining the team to create even more kick ass-inspirational events.”

Your passion speaks for itself, but tell us what excites you about your career, and gets you excited in the morning?

“I have come to a point where a major part of my work does not feel like work at all. I love people, technology and data, and today I can bring these three elements together, to improve products and customer experience, based on data analytics and insights.”

If you look back on your career, what key piece of advice would you give to your younger self?

“There is a time for everything in life; do not worry so much about the future, life will happen – let it happen and enjoy the ride. On that ride, own your choices and decisions, ensuring you maintain your integrity, be honest with yourself, and challenge yourself. Never forget to use your time wisely and to spend it with people that are important to you.”

“Our responsibility is to look for the bias in a holistic way and establish control points starting from the data capturing; through to AI/ML modelling through diversity in engineers and responding to the real data shifts in the lifecycle.”

Which major topic in today’s world of data do you feel is most important?

“There is quite a lot of talk in the press about the bias in the AI/ML based models today.  The suggested solution is to increase diversity among the data scientists/engineers. This is a very important aspect of our responsibility in data to avoid creating bias in the system. However, our responsibility in data starts with the data itself, as it is the greatest source of the bias. Our responsibility is to look for the bias in a holistic way and establish control points starting from the data capturing; through to AI/ML modelling through diversity in engineers and responding to the real data shifts in the lifecycle.”

Antje Barth, Chapter Co-founder

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Described as a Technical Evangelist, Antje is extremely passionate about helping developers leverage Big Data, container and Kubernetes platforms in the context of AI and Machine Learning.

For those who have never met Antje, I think the only two words, which could aptly describe her are “magnificently energetic”. You feel Antje’s energy the moment she walks into the room, as she takes the time to greet every member by name.

 “Having the opportunity to build a local community, drive diversity initiatives and meet so many smart and talented women along the way, there was really nothing to think twice about.”

How did the journey of founding Women in Big Data Düsseldorf start for you?

“While I was working at MapR in 2018, Liisel approached me with the idea of starting a Women in Big Data chapter in Düsseldorf. Having the opportunity to build a local community, drive diversity initiatives and meet so many smart and talented women along the way, there was really nothing to think twice about.”

What is it about your career that excites you and gets you up in the morning?

“The pace in which the IT industry is innovating and changing is just mind-blowing. To see how technology evolves and touches every aspect of our lives is fascinating. Looking at my career, having the opportunity to always work with cutting edge technologies, and being able to share the knowledge and experiences with others, is what excites and drives me.”

If you look back on your career, what key piece of advice would you give to your younger self?

“Do not fall back in to any comfort zone. You own your career, speak up and be brave enough to take on the opportunities that present themselves, even if they look challenging at first. That is the only way you grow.”

What is Women in Big Data, and what does it represent?

“The goal of the Women in Big Data™ Forum is to strengthen the diversity in the big data field. As part of this initiative, we would like to encourage and attract more female talent to the big data & analytics field and help them connect, engage and grow.”

“You own your career, speak up and be brave enough to take on the opportunities that present themselves, even if they look challenging at first.”

Which major topic in today’s world of data do you feel is most important?

“AI and Machine Learning are disrupting every industry. A recent IDC study estimated that in 2019, 40% of digital transformation initiatives would take advantage of AI.  Customer experience is being transformed with capabilities such as conversational interfaces, smart biometric authentication, and personalization and recommendations. In retail, sophisticated demand-planning models are dramatically improving forecast accuracy.  Automation is making supply chain management more efficient. In healthcare, we are seeing a shift from reactive to predictive care, including the use of predictive models to accelerate the discovery of new drugs and treatment regiments. It is exciting to see how technology is transforming our lives.”

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It is clear from these interviews, that the women who founded the chapter are every bit as passionate and excited about the future of data as their members are.

With an average of 40 attendees per meetup, the group is transforming the way that young women view the tech industry.  It is no longer a daunting male dominated field, but rather a welcoming exciting industry that depends so much on new female talent in the market in order to balance out and remove the bias in the algorithms, that dominate the world today.  The young female talent of the future have so much to be excited about, and with these two women at the helm, they have the perfect mentors to weather them through the storm.

Who knows what the future will bring, but one thing is for certain, it is most certainly a bright and inclusive one, to Inspire, Connect and Grow.

Author: Juliette Aucamp

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