Women in Big Data Global



Bio: Jane Alexander, WiBD Chapter Director, Australia

Women in Big Data

By Regina Karson,

December 18, 2019

Jane Alexander

Jane Alexander has worked in the ICT Industry for her entire career in a broad range of areas, from banking to Government, infrastructure outsourcing, cloud enablement, and analytics. Jane has focused on business and customer management and enablement and has successfully developed new business, as well as managed existing clients on a global basis. She is passionate about excellence in delivery, customer satisfaction, and the need to enthuse and motivate teams to deliver outstanding results.

Jane has witnessed the value of analytical outcomes grow exponentially over the past 20 years, starting her involvement with analytics based on North American banks experimenting with customer segmentation. There has been significant momentum from these early days, and in the past ten years, Jane has focused on working with the Government to use highly sophisticated analytical and AI processes to improve citizen outcomes.

Jane is a feminist and a strong advocate for women (go, Jane!). She started the WiBD Canberra chapter in 2018 and is enthused with the support from government and industry and the growing recognition that we all need to take positive steps to redress the gender balance in our industry. Jane continues to mentor and support members of the group and never ceases to be surprised that smart, talented, and capable women continue to be undervalued in male-dominated industries.

What inspired Jane to start WIBD

On a global basis, Australia is recognized as behind the times in regard to gender equality in industry. For example, only 11 out of the top 200 companies in Australia have women CEOs. This makes it incredibly difficult for any woman to progress in her career and to be a valued member of the workforce. I have always recognized this problem and have often wondered what more can be done to drive change.

Jane went to a WiBD event at a conference in New York in early 2018. She was blown away with the high calibre of female speakers and the enormous quantity of highly qualified and engaging women at the event. At that time, she knew she needed to bring WiBD to Australia. Jane wanted to be able to provide women with the potential to showcase the fantastic work they are doing, to meet with peers in the industry, and support each other.

WiBD, Australia vision

As of the end of 2019, WiBD had over 650 members. This was huge, as Jane lives in a small city with a workforce of only 150,000 people. WiBD have sponsorships from universities, government, and industry. Sponsors include Australian National University, The Department of Education, the Australian Taxation Office, the Canberra Data Centre, Altis Consulting, Qlik, Cloudera, and Teradata.

The WiBD vision is to continue to grow and support women in the Big Data Industry.

The Australian chapter has several established activities to support our vision including:

  1. Events: WiBD focuses on holding quarterly events with industry-leading speakers. Our events comprise of upfront presentations and Q&A sessions, with drinks and networking afterward. Some of the topics include:
    • Security and data privacy
    • The future of AI
    • Data Integration
    • Innovation
    • Presentations from members about analytics programs of work
    • Data in Space
  2. Mentoring: A yearly and formal mentoring program. We have developed a mentoring program specifically for WiBD, and this is facilitated by a member who is a specialist in this field. We hold the program over a 9-month timeframe and deliver education upfront for both mentors and mentees regarding how to set goals and get the most out of the program. We also undertake a formal matching process to ensure the mentors have goals and experience suitable to support the mentees. The program consists of formal meetings for the group, as well as informal sessions arranged individually between the mentors and mentees. WiBD Canberra delivered the first mentoring program in 2019 with enormous success. 83% of the mentees said they achieved the goals they set at the beginning of the program. In addition to the mentoring process, it was a great opportunity for the mentees to meet each other and form early working relationships.
  1. Annual Data Challenge: For a bit of fun, we set an annual data challenge where members compete to solve a data problem and visualise their analysis. The winner of the quiz presents her findings, is awarded a WiBD Annual Data Challenge trophy and (where possible) an exciting prize. For example, last year the winner also received a free ticket to the Flight Simulation Centre in Lyneham.

One of Jane’s big achievements: For the first time in history there are more women than men enrolled in the Master of Data Science Course at the Australian National University. The course professor has stated that WiBD has helped to contribute to this fantastic outcome (wow).

Jane fun fact

Jane is passionate about travel. She has lived and worked in 5 different countries.

Jane’s favourite quote or book or any inspiration:

Jane gets great inspiration and strength from a slightly modified version of quote from Theodore Roosevelt. She has this quote on her wall in the office!

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong woman stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the woman who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends herself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if she fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that her place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

WiBD is lucky to have such an inspired and inspiring leader! Thank you, Jane, for your rock star achievements.

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