Women in Big Data organised a panel discussion at Vodafone Headquarters in London the 8th of October, 2019 in the evening. The attendees started joining around 6pm and were welcomed with food and drinks. By the time the event kicked off at 7pm, a lot of great conversations and networking were already going on!
Sagree Mahilall, IT Transformation Programme Expert at Vodafone, delivered an introduction of the Women in Big Data organisation. She was the person making possible the very first event in UK back in 2018, and sealing the support from Vodafone as sponsor. She explained how we want to strengthen the diversity in Big Data by inspiring, connecting, growing and championing the success of women in data careers.
Cornelia Schaurecker, Group Director of Big Data, Advanced Analytics and Applied AI at Vodafone, presented her team of over 200 Data Scientists and Engineers worldwide. They are delivering high value to Vodafone business and customers; they are a growing team offering great career opportunities. Lola Alarcon, Senior Manager in Advanced Analytics, introduced us to the use cases around retail, and Giovanna Miritello, Lead Data Scientist, presented how deep learning can decode customer behaviour.
The panel discussion was moderated by Nahia Orduna, Senior Manager of Analytics and Digital integration at Vodafone and part of the WiBD EMEA Core team as moderator. We were honoured to welcome panelists who are industry recognized data experts:
Cornelia Schaurecker Group Director of Big Data, Advanced Analytics and Applied AI Vodafone, who leads the Big Data strategy for Vodafone.
Tina Rosario, Chief Data Officer EMEA at SAP and our president of WiBD EMEA, who joined us from Paris.
Abby Thomas, Head of Customer Operations, at Vodafone Business, who leads a team of over 300 people who need to make the best out of data every day.
Rielah de Jesus, Senior Solution Architect at AWS, who traveled from US to participate in this discussion and has a wide expertise in data trends.
We discussed data trends, such as the rise of the cloud and the amazing new use cases around Data for Good. We highlighted the amount of data created at each moment and the challenges around data quality, as well as the infrastructure and systems needed. The ideal scenario is to make the data available so anybody can consume it when they need to make the best data-driven decisions, but this scenario also presents challenges. We emphasized the need for cultural transformation, the upskilling of teams, and the big opportunities that are in front of us in this field. Our panelists gave advice to organisations about coping with changes and told the audience about some of their lessons learned and tricks, from a better data strategy to data career ambitions. The audience also participated, asking challenging questions, and there was a very open and collaborative dialogue.
In the end of the debate, Yasuara Noval, Solution Architect at Vodafone and part of the Women in Big Data London Chapter, organised a quiz for our participants. The winner got a 60-minute session with the recruitment team, and there were three other one-hour coaching sessions prizes for our lucky winners. We want to thank our amazing coaches, who agreed to give their time and expertise to support Women in Big Data. Our coaches are:
Pilar Santamaria, who is an IT leader with over twenty years experience in business and product management in emerging technologies. She held local and international positions at Dell, Microsoft, Cisco, Nortel and Siemens. VP of Innovation and CTO for EMEA at Dell, she led the Cloud and Enterprise business in Spain for Microsoft. Previously, she held the position of Head of Strategy and Go to Market at Cisco for SaaS, worldwide. Pilar has been nominated Cloud Expert by the European Commission, and she is a professor and researcher at the European University of Madrid in security and compliance. She has a bachelor in Telecommunications Engineering, a Masters from IESE Business School, and is ABD (PhD, All But Dissertation). She is currently doing her thesis on IoT integrated with AI and Blockchain at the European University of Madrid. She announced her new project, A Better Workplace, and we are thrilled to partner with her from now on!
Kelly Fermont, who is a solicitor and data privacy professional (CIPP/E). She has represented Vodafone in data privacy consultations, as a voluntary committee member of the British Chamber of Commerce, and as Chair for the Asia Women’s Network. Kelly is a champion for applying expertise and data as an enabler for better business decisions, faster; she is experienced in providing in-house advice in legal, risk and compliance matters. Her scope is global, with a particular focus on Europe, Asia and Middle East markets.
Alison Sellar, who leads the bid governance team in Vodafone Business. She ensures that bid governance decisions are made quickly, whilst balancing profitability and risk. She has worked in both supplier and customer-facing roles in electronics and telecoms, in the UK and Luxembourg. She likes to run employee engagement programmes due to her passion for people. Outside work, Alison has held various volunteer roles, including chairing a football club and leading a Girlguiding division.
After the prizes, we continued the networking time until late!
Thanks to all who participated, and we look forward to seeing you at future events.