The Data
Revolution

Building the Workforce of the Future

"There cannot be equity in society without equity in data collection, curation, and decisions."

Women in Big Data Founders

International Women’s Day – Nancy Sachdeva

Nancy Sachdeva

Women in Big Data is spotlighting amazing women

Nancy Sachdeva brings twelve years of consulting experience in process transformations across international and multicultural environment, and industries such as  Utilities, Oil & Gas, Logistics, Manufacturing, Healthcare. Nancy lives in Germany and is currently the Head of Process Design and Automation at Uniper, an energy company based in Düsseldorf, where she is responsible for end to end robotics portfolio and managing cross functional teams across development, deployment and operations. She is an accredited Operational Excellence Hands on Practitioner with an MBA in Marketing & Finance and a bachelor’s in computer science engineering.

“When can we start?”  This is a recurring question in my life. I just can’t sit, waiting for the perfect environment, but believe in actions to improve.

The love for Processes is what makes me dive through the clutter of complex problems and encourages me to find the best solutions. I drive energy by working in complex projects, leading diverse functional teams, empowering and developing people while maintaining a common vision and goals.

I enjoy meeting new people and learning from experiences of myself and others. I believe in stretching networks wider and wider. I believe in the tremendous power of inclusion that leads to diversity of thoughts and best solutions, and even if it means some confrontation, I believe confrontation is a first step to a resolution.

I am a pragmatic problem solver with strong analytical skills, but currently my three-month-old daughter knows how to challenge my planning and execution all the time. She changes my every plan by the minute. As a first-time mom, every bit is fun with her and a great learning experience.

My career journey – Since I loved mathematics and computers (the Internet was the next best thing in 90s, having an email address was the cool thing!), I decided to do engineering and completed my Bachelor of Technology in Computer Science.  It was a surprising choice for me, because it’s not something that I was ever introduced to or anyone in my family did. The family background was one where daughters were married off once they graduate, and working after marriage was not that popular. My parents, on the other hand, did not want this for their daughter and consulted career planners to find out all about engineering to see if this might be something for me.  Quite honestly, I was blessed that my parents got me into this field.

I worked for three years as a software engineer with requirement gathering and programming. Though it was very rewarding, it awoke certain interests in other parts of the work that colleagues were doing. I was so curious to learn how organizations are designed, how complex projects are driven, about financial planning and management related subjects–so I decided to pursue an MBA. I eventually did a Master of Business administration in Marketing and Finance. In my heart, I always wanted to work globally. It was a conscious choice to have skills which are transferable across cultures and countries and hence, the choice of technical and management skills seemed perfect to me.

As part of consulting, I worked for several process transformations assignments across leading players like Saudi Aramco, Shell, BMW, Centrica, Medco, TNT etc.  I learned a lot from these complex multidimensional projects involving cross functional international teams. The experience was so rewarding due to varied industries exposure, complex problem solving, working in varied teams and leveraging my analytical and communication skills to significantly contribute to the business impact. I really enjoyed the challenges and learnings while working with diverse global customers.

As part of consulting, I came to the Netherlands six years ago on a two-year assignment in 2015. A year later, my husband moved to Germany from India on an international assignment. I was at a point in my career where I wanted to leverage my learnings in an industry and wanted to be part of one organizational culture. An opportunity from Uniper came at just the right time. It was an interesting challenge to set up something new: `RPA – Robotic Process Automation` in the organization and the Energy sector seemed very interesting due to heavily talked-about “Energy Uses”. This seemed a right fit for my capabilities and hence, four years ago I joined Uniper. I am heading the end to end robotics portfolio and managing cross functional teams across development, deployment and operations, and working with several automation teams at Uniper to contribute to digital transformation. The role uniquely combines my passion for streamlining processes, leveraging technology and most importantly, empowering people to enable business impact.

What motivates me are complex strategic initiatives and challenges where I can influence interoperations within products, operations and systems, and organization design to create business value. I like to translate business problems into enterprise wide process and solutions of business value that I can be proud of…and where I can learn and improve every day.

What bothers me is that gender inequality still exists; it’s more prevalent in certain parts of the world than others.

I was brought up in a joint family, which meant grandparents, my father and his three brothers and all their kids in one big house. It was fun, and a good way to learn a lot of management skills, negotiation skills and conflict skills. I still attribute a lot of my capabilities to having grown up in such an environment.

My first encounter with gender inequality happened when I was probably around 11 or 12 years old. My world was good until I realized that the worth of Rs. 500 is different than that of Rs. 1000. Our grandmother would gift us money on our birthday. This time on my birthday, she gave me Rs. 500 and I said I don’t want it and I explained her it is unfair that she gave my brother Rs 1000 on his birthday. I would accept it when it is same as his – my first-hand lesson in gender inequality. I know she loves me a lot but she did not know better, this is how she was raised, so nothing against her. She was upset and complained to my parents about my behavior. Surprisingly, my parents did not say anything to me. I think they felt I was independently fighting for my right as a twelve-year-old and perhaps, it was okay. Well, few days later, I was given Rs 1000, I happily accepted and it changed the trend in the house. Each child was treated equally. I raised a voice, it made a difference. I was proud of myself.

There is an unconscious bias on gender; sometimes it is unintentional, yet it still exists.

I find it funny when I read the lines like first “female” CEO, first “female” Vice President…why is there a female added in the title? When have we seen a headline such as “First male CEO”?

The title should be CEO, president etc. When the word female is used in such instances, it strengthens that unconscious gender bias in minds of humans. I am sure a female or a male just as capable would have got the job not because of the gender. When Jennifer Morgan assumed office of Co-CEO of SAP, she was advertised as a female CEO. When she stepped down in a year and it was titled as diversity disaster by Bloomberg? Why?  Diversity is a fact; inclusion is a choice. Let’s include the choice criteria of capabilities and skill and let that checkmark of gender be just on our birth certificates.

 There are two quotes which inspire me a lot and have influenced my personal and professional choices:

  1. The most dangerous phrase in the language is “we have always done it this way” – Grace Hopper
  2. Be the change you wish to see in the world – Mahatma Gandhi

A few messages I’d like to share with an awesome community of 17000+ women worldwide:

  1. Don’t underestimate yourself. Focus on capabilities and skill. Probably you are thinking about your gender more than the other person.
  2. Ask. Ask. Ask. What does it take to get to XZY position or to achieve this career goal? Most often we choose to believe we would not get XYZ and we forget to ask. Chances that you get something that you asked for are much greater than that which you did not ask for. The worst that can happen is you don’t get an answer you are looking for. But at least it opens room for dialogue.
  3. Expand your network. Reach out and let people reach out to you. If you need help, seek it out. There is always someone who is better than you at a skill or a job or has gone the same path himself/herself, and they can certainly provide good advice. Be open to new learnings, new ways. And return the favor by helping others and sharing experiences. I was uplifted and helped by many colleagues, so I do the same when I can.
  4. Seek feedback from people you trust- colleagues, superiors, spouses, parents, friends. Reflections on actions is a very powerful fulfilling and learning experience.
  5. Comparison is probably your worse enemy. Its a distraction and affects you and your result.

Leave a Reply