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International Women’s Day – Elena Plankina

Elena Plankina

Women in Big Data is spotlighting amazing women

By Elena Plankina

My career started when I was at university. I took part in Intel Summer School and afterwards joined the company as an intern. Currently, I’m a full-time software engineer who has changed three teams supporting different Intel performance libraries. Several years ago, I joined the Women in Big Data chapter in Russia and have been witnessing many great events happening around me. Our community is growing, we are organizing meetups and webinars, and collaborating with other organizations aimed at closing the gender gap in STEM. During these years I’ve tried on being an interviewer, videographer, meetup host, etc. Obviously, it is an exciting experience, but what motivates me the most is positive feedback on our initiatives. Women gather information on interesting topics, exchange views, develop professional and social contacts. In particular, I very much hope that we also encourage some of them who would like to change jobs to make a step to their new careers. That’s because at first any drastic changes are always scary and, secondly, in today’s era of information and almost unlimited opportunities, it’s difficult to choose among a huge number of options. My own story is an example.

I grew up in a family of technicians. My mother is an Associate Professor at the Physics department of Nizhny Novgorod State University, and my father specialized as a ship’s mechanic. Moreover, almost all my relatives are technical people, so when I was at school taking a degree, STEM seemed to be the most natural choice. However, I was also interested in languages and geography, no less than in mathematics. Besides that, I was fond of music and singing. So, choosing a university to enter was a headache. But a degree in STEM seemed to be the most proper choice….

One day I realized that there is no need to choose only one field for development. It is fine to be interested in many topics, change careers from one to the opposite, combine different skills in one job, or have dozens of hobbies. All these qualities and skills make a person unique. Everything changes. It is a real life.

Now I’m absolutely happy to work in the role of software engineer, writing this post in a foreign language, singing and traveling in my spare time. The degree in STEM still seems the most proper choice for me because I admire people who can solve difficult mathematical equations, design complex systems, and launch rockets into space. And I am lucky to work with such people at Intel. There are a lot of talented men and women who inspire me with their attitude towards life and work, their experiences, and their stories of success.

For me, the Women in Big Data community is about a wide range of opportunities and broadening horizons. It’s cool to have a strong passion and carry it for a whole life, but it’s no less cool when you can take on different roles and activities. It’s also cool when any person can choose any career path. And this is what we should strive for.

Be amazing. Be inspiring. Be unique. Do not be afraid to take on something new.

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