WiBD spoke with Sowmya Moni, WiBD India Chapter Director and member of the WiBD Global Executive Committee
WiBD: Who is Sowmya Moni?
Sowmya is a passionate, self-driven individual motivated towards making societal impact. By profession, she is a technology marketer with 22+ years of experience and expertise in go-to-market strategy, market research, and influencer relations. She is a gender inclusivity and diversity in leadership advocate.
WiBD: Tell us about your career journey.
I started as a business analyst in an EdTech start-up about 20 years ago, and during those formative years in my career, I discovered the marketer in me, despite having no formal education in it. I decided to pursue my MBA in marketing after three years of working in a start-up. I moved into several roles within marketing across product, services, and solutions companies for 20 years, donning several hats in strategy, product management, marketing, and analytics across large, mid-size, and small companies. I currently work for a digital applications and solutions company leading their marketing and business development activities.
WiBD: Do you have advice for others who are thinking about their career choices?
Experiment with multiple areas of interest early on, and as you develop affinity and interest in one or two, hone and develop your skill and expertise. I am a learning practitioner and advise everyone to upskill and focus on holistic development as you grow in your career.
WiBD: How did you learn about Women in Big Data, and what has been your engagement with the organization?
I was introduced to WiBD through Tina Tang, Co-Founder WiBD, and was inspired with the mission and the community-first approach. It has been an absolute pleasure being associated with this organization for the last couple of years.
WiBD: How does big data play a role in your career?
As a marketer, I admit to not having a great handle on the science or the “analytics” in marketing and consider myself a learning practitioner. Marketing efforts are hard to quantify in terms of revenue or impact; nonetheless, it is important to understand the science to determine the health of marketing strategies. It is this quest to improve my knowledge that introduced me to the world of marketing analytics. It has been an exciting journey. The variety, velocity, and veracity of marketing projects have kept me on my toes. From initiating campaigns to writing compelling customer stories to researching on markets or competitors and brainstorming on techniques to garner more views for marketing collateral, a normal day at work is far from routine. In my line of work, skimming through vast amounts of market, customer and business performance data is a pre-requisite to having any meaningful conversations.
The rise of machine learning and big data today has made it possible to create micro-moments from any customer interaction. And while this is an amazing advancement, it can sometimes leave us feeling overwhelmed and under-prepared, and so the challenge is to keep pace with the interaction streams and stay relevant. While much of the work I do is creative in nature, often agility takes over creativity, more than I’d like to admit. So, in this swiftly changing milieu, there is a lot to be gained from being nimble and innovative. Every marketer on the planet is overwhelmed by the number and variety of marketing technology tools available, and Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a hot topic in marketing today. Smart content curation, ad (re) targeting, chatbots, and personalization are some of the innovative applications of AI that I have encountered in marketing. As marketers, we constantly look for ways to increase the engagement levels with our prospects and customers through their buying journey and AI applications in marketing show significant promise. The future of marketing analytics is going to be exciting with disruptive trends such as AI, Automation, and IoT.
WiBD: What factors are responsible for the digital divide in India, and what initiatives can WiBD embark on to foster digital inclusion?
India ranks No. 1 globally when it comes to the number of women graduating with Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) degrees, making up an impressive 40% of total graduates. As per the World Bank, 18% of girls in tertiary education pursue STEM studies, compared to 35% of boys. The dearth of women as data scientists can be attributed to women who give up on this career due to the gender pay gap, over-representation of women in industries that require a lower level of technical skill, the common dilemma that women have to face in choosing between work and home, and, overall, the tech industry being male dominated. There is also a lack of female role models.
WiBD Foundation, which runs the India Chapter as a not-for-profit Section 8 Company, is enabling the mission with a specific focus on bridging the divide between industry and academia, and on improving women’s representation in data and allied fields at grassroots level in India. Five anchor programs, Vidya, Saraswati, Gayatri, Shakti and Lakshmi, address all target segments of women pursuing education and careers in data and digital technologies.
WiBD: Why should more women take an interest in Big Data careers?
Providing women with the right environment to thrive in Big data through access to education and training will not only help even out the gender ratio, but also help companies produce unbiased algorithms, as well as help the industry excel.
WiBD: What motivates you?
WiBD: What bothers you?
WiBD: Any fun facts about you?
I love to watch and try home improvement DIY projects! While I am a marketer by profession, championing causes such as ethical waste management, organic farming, and cruelty-free products are close to my heart. I’ve been managing the solid waste management education drives in my community for a few years now and wish to someday take on a larger role in sustainable development.
WiBD: Any Quotes or inspirations that you live by?
“Be the change you wish to see in the world.” Mahatma Gandhi.