Women in Big Data Global



Women in Big Data Speed Mentoring Event

Women in Big Data

By Prabha Viswanathan,

April 12, 2018


March 1, 2018
Intel Ronler Acre Campus, Hillsboro Oregon

Women in Big Data’s North West Chapter Mentorship Committee organized a speed mentoring event on the afternoon of March 1 at Intel RA3 Campus, Hillsboro Oregon. This was the first kickoff event for the mentorship committee in 2018. The event was a huge success with an amazing line up of 13 Intel Technical Leaders from different sub-organizations and ~75 mentees in attendance.

The event created an opportunity for employees both within Intel and externally to interact face-to-face with industry leaders with varied technical backgrounds and expertise. It was a great place for employees to seek impromptu career advice, break in to the big data space, find mentors and establish a working relationship to support a career growth mindset.

A little info on the details of event planning and execution:

L-R: Indu Kalyanaraman, Meena Arunachalam, Prabha Viswanathan

We were a team of three trying to organize a small scale event and yet have a wide outreach. The team consisted of Indu Kalyanaraman, in Intel’s Platform Engineering Group, Meena Arunachalam (Chair Mentorship Committee West Coast Chair), Principal Engineer at Intel’s Data Center Group, and Prabha Viswanathan, S/W Performance Engineer at Intel’s Software & Services Group. We chose a table rotation format for this event. We reached out to ~15-16 mentors that we’ve personally connected with through our careers, and all the mentors were so cooperative and generously contributed their support and time toward the event’s goals. We aligned each mentor with a technical and soft skills topic to guide the scope of their discussions with mentees, as shown below.

link to mentor bio profiles

Table Speaker Table Topic 1 Table Topic 2
Sebastien Hily Internet of Things & Big Data TRI’s for Career Growth
Monica Ene-Pietrosanu Data Center & Big Data Different Strokes for Different Career Stages: Glassjaws to avoid, Wisdom to share, in Early, Mid and Advance Career grades
Milind Damle Big Data Software Architecture Effective & Impactful Communication skills to grow as a leader
Meena Arunachalam Artificial Intelligence[Machine Learning; Deep Learning] & Big Data Mentor, Advocate, Sponsor – why do I need one?
Corey Gough Cloud & Big Data Different Strokes for Different Career Stages: Glassjaws to avoid, Wisdom to share, in Early, Mid and Advance Career grades
Ian Steiner Cloud, CPU Architecture & Big Data Grow your brand as a trusted technical leader
Hassnnaa Moustafa Autonomous Driving & Big Data Increase your technical influence to business impact
Amy Adams System Design for Data Center Effective & Impactful Communication skills to grow as a leader
Judi Goldstein Software Engineering Navigating your career & managing career transitions
Karla Fisher Increase your technical influence to business impact Grow your brand as a trusted technical leader
Surekha Reddy System Design for Data Center Mentor, Advocate, Sponsor – why do I need one?
Binny Arcot Different Strokes for Different Career Stages: Glassjaws to avoid, Wisdom to share, in Early, Mid and Advance Career grades
Nishi Ahuja Cloud Service Provide Infrastructure & Big Data Risk Taking


Meena Arunachalam

We kicked off the event with Meena giving a fantastic introduction to Women in Big Data, the various committees and opportunities, benefits of having an advocate, sponsor and mentor, the challenges for Women, and an inspiring video about WiBD.

Prabha, still early in her career at Intel, shared a

heartfelt experience about the impact of mentoring on her career and shared the benefits of mentoring. Five mentors in the audience have personally mentored her in the last five years in different areas, geared towards technical and personality development.

Indu laid out the logistics and event details to abide by and kicked off the sessions.

Each mentor was seated with the table topics assigned to them. It was fascinating to watch the active participation of mentees and mentors in each of the 12-minute sessions. Everyone looked very engaged and made full use of every minute of each session. Time flew by and we were able to squeeze in ~4 mentoring sessions.

Every mentor carried out some great discussions in the scope of their assigned topics. Mentees at Meena’s table were eager to learn and get started on AI/ML/DL areas for career development and growth while some were already exploring in their current jobs and few were advanced in these areas. This was across different roles and organizations, Entry to mid to senior professionals and all were curious to learn, get mentored and learn on their own as well. She continues to get several off line mentoring requests. Overall Meena enjoyed talking to them, helping with resources (skills to develop, online classes, trends, focus areas with Big Data and AI etc.,), areas of explore in their respective domains and jobs etc.

Karla was very creative with her table. She had a lot of people who knew what a personal brand was on a high level but had never created one. She came to the game with a specific exercise that allowed people to create their own personal brand in ten  minutes. After the exercise, they had a quick talk about what next steps. She also really enjoyed going a bit deep into some examples, from peoples’ jobs to how they could tie their work to Intel’s bottom line.


Milind had a lot of questions related to job-changes and career growth, such as “How can I improve my communication with my team on goal-setting or make my objectives clear?”, “How can I get feedback on how I’m communicating/presenting?”, “What big-data projects should I get into?”, and “Which are the current dominating big-data trends?” We also saw Milind draw out Big Data Software Stack chalk talk to answer some of these questions.


Corey typically posed 1-2 questions to individuals or the group and the rest of the time was spent in very natural Q&A and discussion. Over 80% of questions were career oriented rather than technical. It was valuable and reassuring (especially for new and junior engineers) to hear about different work experiences and the benefits of developing technical breadth early on–and that their careers were not in jeopardy if they weren’t the lead engineer on some critical Big Data project right this second. Given that it was software engineering heavy, there was a general concern and undertone of “what kind of a software company do you work for?”Corey discussed trhe different types of roles for software engineers – both traditional and non-traditional.

Throughout the session, many connections were made, and several will carry over past the event. Many thanks to volunteers, mentors and mentees, and the Mentorship committee for working hard. Also a shout-out to Intel DCG/CPG division VP Raejeanne Skillern for covering snacks, and Intel for the venue. We also had a lucky drawing at the end for some Spark and Big Data books that participants were quite excited about! Overall, we received great feedback from both the mentees and mentors and look forward to doing this event again at a larger scale across sites.