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With a lively crowd of over 50 members, our Toronto chapter of Women in Big Data had their first meetup on June 13, 2018! During the event, we uncovered the different roles and functions that work with big data. We also explored how different industries interact and use big data through an interactive panel discussion.

Lilian Lau, the Director of the Toronto chapter, kicked off the event with the goal and mission of Women in Big Data. Lilian spoke about Quandl’s data pipeline as an introduction to the different roles and teams that work with big data. Quandl, the sponsoring company of this event, is a marketplace for data for professional investors. Lilian described the functions of each team: the supply, data research, data engineer, marketing, sales, operations and development team. Participants learned the differentiation between data scientists and data engineers as well as the importance of context when working with data.

R. to L.: Alessandra, Joanna, Vanessa, Lilian

We then turned it over to our three panel speakers from various industries: Alessandra Fraquelli from the business and consulting space, Joanna Yu from health science research and Vanessa Feng, who is a machine learning data scientist. The panel discussion took on a life of its own, with participants actively asking questions and befriending our panelists.

Alessandra highlighted the challenge of fragmented data ownership within organizations, where data is often stored in silos and in different structures. She also spoke to the structured mentorship she has received as a woman, and  she encourages others to seek out mentors within and outside of their organization.

Joanna, who is highly skilled in data applications for health research, showcased the importance of context when working with data. As the expert in molecular genetics, she supports all roles in data management, from curation to harmonization of multidimensional data. She also discussed the topic of data governance and privacy concerns when working with health data.

Vanessa spoke to a common question from participants: whether a PhD degree is required to work with big data. As iterated by her fellow panelists, there are many roles associated with big data. Many data scientists and other important roles require strong programming skills and knowledge in statistics but do not necessarily require a PhD degree. She encouraged our participants to understand which aspect of big data they want to work in before pursuing higher education. Specifically, she described that her own passion in machine learning and the model-building aspect of big data drove her to complete her higher education.

The event ended with a bustling networking and social time amongst the group. We received overwhelmingly positive feedback from both our panel speakers and participants. People enjoyed the comfortable and intimate environment and eagerly requested a second meetup. A shout-out to our organizers, Sandra Sousa, Lynn Yen, Emma Jones, Renita Sudirga and Sam Power for making this event a huge success!

The Toronto chapter is currently organizing its second meetup, where we will again strive to connect like-minded data professionals in a welcoming and engaging environment. Our goal is to grow, elevate and nurture female talent in the big data and analytics space through knowledge-sharing and community participation. If you are interested in participating, speaking or sponsoring us, please contact us through our meetup page!

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Women in Big Data Munich hosted another meetup at Google premises on 14 June, 2018. Around ninety attendees enjoyed the occasion in the conference area of Google office space.

L. to R.: Charlotte Dyckmanns, Markus Rotter, Astrid Neumann, Nahia Orduna, Irene Dornmair

The meetup started with an introduction of Women in Big Data by Nahia Orduna, Principal Solution Architect in Vodafone and WiBD Munich Chapter Lead. She explained WiBD vision, mission, and why Munich has many opportunities in Big Data and Digitalization for a variety of job roles and professional backgrounds.

Astrid Neumann, Senior Talent Manager at Mercateo and WiBD Munich Chapter Lead, delivered a keynote on recruiting practices in Germany. At the moment there is a shortage of skilled talent in high-tech sector, but successful job application needs to meet certain criteria. Astrid provided the audience with some insights and advice on how to make their candidate profiles stand out – by illustrating the concept with a metaphor of “how to be a flamingo in a swarm of pigeons”. She gave useful and practical suggestions, sharing her experience as Senior Talent Manager and showing the audience how to position themselves to get the job they want. Her presentation ended with an interactive workshop, where the audience was divided in five groups brainstorming on flipboards about their unique selling points to make sure they shine in a recruitment process.

Last but not least, Markus Rotter, Head of Analytics in Vodafone, and Charlotte Dyckmanns and Irene Dornmair, Data Scientists in Vodafone, explained how Vodafone uses Advanced Analytics. Vodafone network is continuously creating a large amount of data, offering an attractive playground for data scientists to apply advanced analytical methods and algorithms. But being a Data Scientist at Vodafone goes beyond machine learning and statistical analysis on Big Data. The job roles range from data gathering to designing end-to-end processes to cross-functional discussions with a wide variety of teams and implementing real-time software in Python. In this talk, the Vodafone team gave a hands-on example on how we go from insights gained from historic data to triggering real-time action. Most importantly, Vodafone announced that they are recruiting, and multiple participants approached them afterwards to get more information.

Irene Dornmair explaining how Vodafone uses Advanced Analytics”

As usual, at the end there was some time dedicated to networking. The WiBD Munich team looks forward to continuing to inspire, grow, connect and champion Women in Big Data.

Presentation of Vodafone to download.

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Elizabeth Land

By Rosa Elena Lorenzana

With exceptional collaboration from Google Cloud and Pluto 7, Women in Big Data (WiBD) were honored to host a group of ~60 attendees at Google campus in Sunnyvale, CA on May 23, 2018.

The event was focused on adoption of Google Machine Learning (ML) & Artificial Intelligence (AI) across different industry verticals. Elizabeth Land, one of the founders of Women in Big Data, kicked things off. She talked about Women in Big Data, highlighting that the mission of the forum is to inspire, connect, grow, and champion the success of women in Big Data.

Becky Levanger

Next, the baton was passed on to Becky Levanger, Partner Marketing Manager, Google Cloud. Becky provided a powerful and inspiring talk, highlighting Google Cloud’s extraordinary growth and emphasizing how it has barely scratched the surface. Becky also walked the audience through her professional journey, what lead to her current role at Google Cloud and the importance of not setting limits on yourself.

Manju Devadas

Following Becky was Manju Devadas, CEO of Pluto7, an analytics company focused on business transformation and Google’s preferred partner. Manju provided an overview of the implications, abilities, and potential business impact of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, specifically through Google Cloud Platform (GCP). He began by providing a general overview of Pluto 7 and GCP services,  then went “under the hood” on some of the basic Google ML services.  Manju discussed various industry case studies and showed how demand forecasting and digital marketing can be improved through ML. He mentioned that the vision is leveraging ML to transform how your business handles forecasting, demand planning / supply and inventory management. It’s about going from a 60%-80% accuracy in forecasting – and leaping up to 95% accuracy. And doing that in a fraction of the computation cost per day while freeing up teams to be hubs of innovation. As an example, Pluto 7 worked with a large brewing company to improve productivity, save on costs, and improve the taste of the beer using ML TensorFlow.

Aishwarya Ganapathy

Our closing presenter was Aishwarya Ganapathy, speaking about how ML and AI will be everywhere including hardware and chips and her professional journey in BigData. Aishwarya is a national award winner for innovation. She is exploring using AI ML for chip designs for very fast processing of high complexity ML Algorithms.  Aishwarya graduated from USC just this May. As a part of Pluto7’s team, Aishwarya collaborated and developed solutions for forecasting problems using Bigquery and ML models.

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By Sunita Sharma, Solution Architect
April, 2018

This article highlights the importance of Object storage and how it can improve performance with Hadoop.
You can download a PDF of this paper here.

Introduction to Hadoop:

Hadoop is an open source software platform.It is widely used for processing large volume of data processing at massive scale. Hadoop architecture has 2 core components viz. Storage known as Hadoop Distributed File System(HDFS) and compute known as MapReduce(MR).

HDFS has one NameNode and series of DataNode/s. Application data is stored on DataNodes and file system metadata is stored on NameNode.HDFS replicates the file content on multiple Data Nodes based on the replication factor to ensure reliability of data.

MapReduce is a java-based programming paradigm for distributed processing. Map function transforms the piece of data into key-value pairs and then the keys are sorted with a Reduce function. It is applied to merge the values based on the key into a single output.

The key benefit ​of Hadoop is that, it brings power of distributed data processing where data is stored. It allows massive parallel processing in a distributed manner.

Introduction to Object Storage

Object storage is a computer data storage architecture that manages data as objects, alternative to file storage which manage data as a file hierarchy, and block storage which manages data as blocks within sectors and tracks.​ ​Object storage contains extended metadata.

Each object has a unique identifier that lets a server retrieve it from any physical location.

Object storage use cases include cloud storage, photos, video, audio and large image files.

The key benefit of Object storage is that, ​it is low cost, long-term data storage for unstructured data that companies need to keep it for compliance reason, need for long term storage or archive the static data such as photos, videos or images. Each object is stored with metadata and object id that makes it easy to retrieve. It provides ​simple web services interfaces for access with ​APIs or http/https.

Current Challenges with Hadoop and How Object Storage can address it:

Hadoop is ever changing and evolving since its origin. The cons is ,continuous evolvement does not make it very stable. While pro is, changes are also bringing new paradigms for compute and storage options.

Some key challenges are :

Scalability: HDFS do not allow independent scaling.​In Hadoop, compute power and storage capacity need to scale in lockstep, meaning you can’t add one resource without the other. Object storage on the other hand ​can scale out easily beyond Petabytes​. Data stored on object storage can be easily accessed and processed on Hadoop as needed.

Cost: A big benefit with object storage is we can separate storage from compute, as a result, larger cluster can be rolled for a smaller period of time to increase throughput, up to allowable physical limits. This separation not only lowers cost but also improves the performance.Object Storage cost is about 1/5th that of Hadoop platform.

Accessibility and Durability:  Namenode is single point for failure in Hadoop. If namenode fails, it is difficult to access rest of the cluster. With Object storage, you don’t need to worry about data accessibility or data loss. Object storage uses erasure coding that helps to prevent the data loss,alternatively data can be made available on any other instance if one instance of Hadoop fails.

Elasticity: One of the nicest benefits of object storage is it works on pay as you go model. You are only charged for what you put in, and if you need to put more data in, just dump them there. Under the hood, the cloud provider automatically provisions resources on demand. Object storage is elastic, HDFS is not.

New processing paradigms: Hadoop has evolving since its origin. Apart from Mapreduce that processes data locally on HDFS, IT brought in new in-memory processing called Spark. This eliminates the need for storing data into HDFS for processing. Data can be stored at low cost in object storage and can be easily accessed in Hadoop for in-memory for processing.

Other Comparables :

Feature HDFS Object Storage
Structure It is File based structure contains blocks to store the data Object based storage,  It  has object id and metadata attached to it
Setup Hadoop cluster is required to read/write data into HDFS Standalone. Independent to Hadoop.
Latency Low High
Storage management Hands-on management Storage SLA is provided by cloud vendor. No need to manage storage

Conclusion:

  • We discussed various factors in section above that shows object storage to be more desirable compare to HDFS.
  • It is not a replacement of Hadoop.
  • It complements Hadoop by providing low cost storage alternatives to make processing more powerful.
  • It offers simple web services interfaces for access ​with ​APIs or http/https.
  • It guarantees that the data will not be lost.
  • Listed below are few comparables from cloud market leaders that offer Object Storage solutions.
  AWS Google
Service name S3 ( Simple

Storage Service)

Google Cloud storage
Cost $0.026 per GB $0.026 per GB
Availability(SLA) 99.95% 99.95%
Object limits unlimited unlimited
Max Object size 5TB 5 TB
Hot S3 standard GCS Nearline
Cold( Archival) Glacier GCS Coldline
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Women in Big Data (WiBD) EMEA Region continues to grow and we are happy to welcome both the new London chapter and Vodafone as a sponsor. The first kick off MeetUp took place on April 23rd, 2018, hosted by Vodafone venue in Newbury and attended by 45 Vodafone employees.

Sagree Mahiilall delivering Keynote

Peter Chapman answering questions

L-R: Peter Chapman, Sagree Mahilall, Silke Eggert, Yuanyuan Song

The team in charge of organizing delivered a high quality, inspiring event on a short notice, and we are looking forward to the next one.

  • Silke Eggert – Head of Presales Customer Solutions ( Winner Women in Technology 2017 )
  • Peter Chapman – Head of Big Data Analytics
  • Yuanyuan Song – Head of Complex Solutions
  • Sagree Mahilall – Business Change Manager – Transformational Programme

Sagree Mahilall opened the meeting, framing the problem of diversity in the field of Big Data and Analytics and low women representation. Next, Silke Eggert delivered an engaging presentation on career development and overcoming challenges. Peter Chapman followed with a presentation about Big Data at Vodafone. All speakers addressed many questions from the audience.

It is a great accomplishment and a privilege to welcome the Vodafone team on board, and to expand the WiBD presence to the UK. We are looking forward to more upcoming events and to growing the London chapter later during this year.

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Women in Big Data’s Latina America Chapter Committee in collaboration with SAP, N1N3 Data Science, POX, Hammer and Eiffel held the first 2018 meetup on April 18 at Tecnopuc Campus, Porto Alegre Brazil. We had over 60 attendees – women and man!

For this pleasant night we had a technical speech led by Mine Caxeiro , which was really interactive and to the point, covering today’s trends and providing insight about big data, data science and correlated subjects. Additionally, we had Luciana Schroeder addressing soft skill speech focused on the power of body language.

Our main purpose was to organize sessions that can mix both technical and soft skills. I believe we delivered great content, both due to a very participatory audience and our speakers!

L-R: Mael, Fabricia, Marcia, Luciana, Indiara, Naiane and Mine

A little info on the details of event planning and execution: The goal of our team of seven was to organize a small scale event and yet have a wide outreach. The team consisted of Fabricia Doria, IT Specialist at Getnet/Santander (Networking Committee Role Latin America Chapter), Indiara Palavro, Hp Software Development Manager (Networking Committee Role Latin America Chapter), Luciana Schroeder, CEO/Founder at Lectus Systems  and Science of People Certified Professional (Mentoring Committee Role Latin America Chapter). Mael Prauchner, Project Manager and Scrum Master at Getnet/Santander (Director Committee Role Latin America Chapter), Marcia Macedo, Scrum Master at Getnet/Santander (Networking Committee Role Latin America Chapter), Mine  Caxeiro, CEO/ Founder at N1N3 Data Science (Evangelism and Awareness Committee Role Latin America Chapter) and Naiane Diniz, CEO/Founder at Eiffel Events (Networking Committee Role Latin America Chapter).

Tecnopuc’s Coworking lounge: plenty of big data professionals and enthusiasts

It was very rewarding to get so many people interested in big data field, we hope to have everyone back in the next event and get new attendees too!

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Women In Big Data by Ed Buban - 2M ago

I admit it. When I started my Big Data journey, I was overwhelmed,  quite easily and very quickly, by all the new technologies, terminologies and touchpoints I was encountering. Squoop, Splunk, Striim, Storm, Scribe, Hbase, Hive, Hue Pig etc., and they were Latin and Greek to me.  Ahhh!!!

It was only after my third “Introduction to Big Data” meetup that I caught myself nodding, ever so slightly, as I was finally able to distinguish a few buzz words from all the stop words on those PowerPoint slides.

In 2005, Yahoo created Hadoop. At that time it had only two components, HDFS and MapReduce. (See a brief history)  Big Data today is just in its adolescent stage, still trying to decide what it wants to be when it grows up. Yet for years, the world has been abuzz about how sexy it is going to be.

Obviously, everyone has realized the criticality of data to the future success of any business. Businesses now focus on data as an important business asset. This situation is very conducive to the coming of age of Big Data, as the technology to generate, capture, store and process vast amounts of data has become easy and dirt cheap.

We are generating a quintillion bytes of data every day. The hardware and technology to store and access this data on commodity hardware is very affordable and accessible. So it is no surprise we have a proliferation of businesses trying to address different aspects of Big Data.

The Big Data Landscape, 2017

The image above is at once daunting as well as exhilarating. “Thousands of companies will be trying to fill millions of jobs in Big Data in the very near future” does not sound far-fetched. Businesses are looking for Data Scientists, hoping one of them will be their Christopher Columbus, who will wade through their data lakes, explore their dark data and discover new lands they did not even know existed.

Where can I fit in? How does one go about preparing to become a part of this movement? I think it will depend on one’s background and what one loves doing best. The chart below puts certain terms in the right buckets. I think one needs to understand or know most terms in this chart and pick a few to specialize in.

Credit: Swami Chandrasekaran

Interestingly, some technology requirements also vary by zip code (full details in a “beautiful” Jupiter Notebook here).

Another analysis of Linkedin Job postings, by my favorite AI company, Figure Eight , yields this Data Science skills dataset that is interesting to play around with.  They have put requirements in four broad buckets: Database, Hadoop technologies, Statistical tools and programming language. One can master one tool from each bucket and be familiar with some others to get the more or less complete picture.

We are fortunate that we live in a time where so much data and knowledge is so easily accessible.  Universities have opened up their courses to anyone with internet access. You do not need a Masters or Ph.D to gain access to the best minds in this business. This is both a blessing and a curse. There are so many courses; I am like a kid in a candy shop. What do I do first?

Women in Big Data have put together a curated list of courses taken by their members and recommended by them. That I think will be a good guide. I will continue to attend meetups that demonstrate new technologies and others that deep dive into topics I know a bit about already . That’s my plan. What is yours?

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Women in Big Data (WiBD) and BNY Mellon’s Women in Technology (WiT) organized a speed mentoring event hosted by BNY Mellon Silicon Valley Innovation Center on April 19, 2018. The event included five diverse mentoring sessions led by outstanding industry leaders eager to assist and connect with colleagues on a beautiful Thursday California evening.

The event was well attended with about fifty participants from a variety of professional backgrounds and career stages, including undergrads, women re-entering the workplace, and mid-career professionals looking to move into different roles. The event highlighted career planning, mentoring, academic choices and trends in technology, with an emphasis on data science. This event facilitated a special opportunity to ask questions, seek advice and connect with successful technology and business leaders with inspiring stories and advice. From these networking opportunities, new bonds were created as the audience connected over shared experiences and uplifting stories. Many participants committed to continued support and ongoing mentoring after the event concluded.

Regina Karson

After the welcome and announcement of the agenda by Regina Karson from WiBD, Erika Lunceford gave an overview of BNY Mellon and its impressive history and unique market position. This was followed by Regina and Tina Tang describing the explosive growth of membership from around the world in the WiBD organization since its inception three years ago.

Participants moved around the Innovation Center to participate in four 20-minute, face-to-face sessions of their choice. The sessions were both inspiring and uplifting, as the presenters encouraged everyone in attendance to never give up. Everyone was able to introduce themselves and many questions were answered throughout the individual sessions.

Karmen Leung, IBM Analytics Cloud – Global Sales Executive, shared her challenges to overcome introversion in her earlier part of her career. After assessing how to properly surpass this challenge, and with a lot of hard work, she became a subject matter expert, as others would often seek advice from her, leading to multiple career opportunities.

Sameera Inapakutik, Facebook — Data Scientist, shared that a life-long commitment to learn, take classes, self-study and experiment, experiment and experiment would lead to valuable discoveries. Sameera explained how, at Facebook, understanding the data structures and clarifying the problem statements could lead to a better selection of the data models to choose and the necessary algorithms to simulate predictive behaviors. She also pointed out how Apache Hive expertise is a minimum skill set with today’s big data experiments.

Meena Arunachalam, Intel Cloud Platform Group, Data Center Group – Principal Engineer, told her audience how she has been at Intel several years and seen the company go through many changes. Her personal advice was to be honest with yourself, understand the delicate balance between family and career, and to plan for a constant re-assessment of priorities.

Tina Tang  Senior Director of Product Marketing, SAP Hana for Machine Learning and Advanced Analytics, answered questions from the audience related to difficult situations. Tina advised to always be honest and to try to negotiate for a win-win. Tina also highlighted how it is crucial to be compassionate and place empathy for the other side before making the final decisions. It was also very refreshing to witness how others in the audience added valuable suggestions as well.

Erika Lunceford, BNY Mellon, Head of Silicon Valley Innovation Center, highlighted how having a focus on client-engagement and solving their problems was crucial to the growth of both the business as well as your career. She explained how her initial exposure to technical challenges as a computer programmer, then moving to business analysis, led to many opportunities to become the bridge in conversations between business owners and technologists. Having a laser-sharp focus at the core of all activities and constantly asking “why” becomes a foundation in the understanding of the problems to solve. A constant reinforcement of the bridging between technology and business can lead to optimum solutions. Her advice and answers resonated well with the audience.

The event concluded with more networking and an informal recap of the evening by mentor presenters, who shared thoughts and stories from each of their sessions.

A special thanks to collaborating partners for the success of this event Regina Karson, RK Consulting, Business Development & Marketing for Emerging Technologies and WiBD leader, and Joy Peacock (WiT member) and Noelle Santamaria from the Silicon Valley Innovation Center engagement.

Afterword by Regina Karson, WiBD Mentoring Committee

Reena Krishnan

A big thank you to Erika Lunceford, Joy Peacock, and Noelle Santamaria for being the most gracious hosts. Thank you to mentors and mentees for an outstanding evening. Thank you, Reena Krishnan, VP Global Sales, TMF Group, for sharing information about the important organizations How Women Lead and Women on Boards, 2020.

Mentor input:

Sameera: There’s a lot of interest in Data Science/Big Data careers, but a real lack of knowledge around what working in the field entails: how job roles differ between companies, what skill sets are required to get in the door and be successful, and how to think about choosing fields to match one’s long-term interests. I personally went through a similar situation when I was starting out, and so did most mentors here probably. Such forums are excellent ways to bring people together and share first-hand knowledge.

Tina: I really loved the format of the small groups because the women would just jump in and be able to offer their support and experiences, which is perfect and exactly what we want for them: to create a situation where their inner mentor is able to come out.

Also, people expressed a need and desire for professional skills — many of which Regina and team have covered in past WiBD workshops — in the areas of resume writing, personal brand management, job hunting strategy and skills, goal setting, negotiation, how to have difficult conversations, returning to the workplace after a (parental, medical, personal) leave, and conflict resolution.

In addition, I’ll add one that seemed apparent to me but was not explicitly articulated: developing a tool box for how to manage stress, how to juggle priorities and time management, etc.

Erika: I heard quite a few questions around making career decisions.  i.e. when is it time for me to move to another position? How do I build all of the skills for my next position when I have my current position (the old 60% vs 100% of the skills for your next position? How do I position my resume so it gets noticed and sifted through (networking)? There is a theme in managing one’s career.

Meena: Networking is important for career growth and is all about building long term relationships and developing a solid, reliable reputation overtime. Good networking involves having authentic conversations with interesting people even if you are an introvert. Having mentors, sponsors and advocates — different roles of career mentorship — is something we all can actively develop.

There is a lot of interest in either starting new or moving into AI/ML/DL areas, and everyone is eager to learn career paths and how to land a job as a Data Scientist, etc. Especially for some I spoke to who are rejoining the workforce after a break or switching fields, it feels overwhelming to develop statistics, domain expertise, and algorithms and coding skills all at the same time. My feedback from my own experience looking for solid contributors is to work on “End to end” projects with collaborators, in their current roles or domains (Business, Finance, Biology, Entrepreneurship, etc.), and to get valuable hands-on experience and leverage domain expertise. Several wanted to know how to keep up with all the advances going on. Overall, I enjoyed meeting all the mentors and the brilliant women who attended the event.

Regina:  The evening was fantastic, and we met a real need for women in various career stages. Mentors brainstormed about shared insights from the evening per above, next steps for further mentoring, and pointers to soft skills mentoring that WiBD has provided to date.

Watch this space!

Mentor Bios:

Erika Lunceford, Head of Silicon Valley Innovation Center at BNY Mellon
Erika delivers change through technology solutions and strategies to investment services. Erika also co-chairs the BNYM’s Women In Technology (WIT) Sponsorship Committee and works as part of the core team for WIT (Winner of Anita Borg Institute’s 2015 Top Company for Women Technologists).

Meena Arunachalam, Principal Engineer, Intel Cloud Platform Group, Data Center Group
Meena works closely with one of the top CSPs to bring current and future Intel technologies to successfully launch in their Data Centers. Her current focus is on AI inference and training, cloud architecture system design, TCO analyses. Meena joined Intel 19 years ago with a Ph.D. in Computer Science. She has served on several IEEE Program and Technical committees.  Meena is the WiBD Mentorship Committee Chair.

Sameera Inapakutika, Data Scientist, FaceBook
Sameera has more than a decade of experience in Data Science, working across several different areas such as analytics, machine learning, data infrastructure, and experimentation. Using data, she has driven critical product initiatives and influenced executives at Facebook, Instagram, Quora, and Netflix. Sameera graduated with a Masters in Electrical Engineering, Stanford University. She is also an active member of organizations including TiE and BASES.

Regina Karson, Principal, RK Consulting, Business Development & Marketing for Emerging Technologies
Regina has held senior roles in marketing, business development, sales and engineering for market maker technology companies. Currently she works with Fortune 500-start-up companies on their marketing and business development needs and helps articulate the business value of technology. Regina holds degrees from Stanford, CSUN and UCLA. Regina serves on several Women in Big Data committees and won WiBD MVP, 2017.

Karmen Leung, Global Sales Executive, IBM Analytics Cloud
Originally from Hong Kong, Karmen Leung moved to the U.S. on her own when she was 16. Now a newly minted U.S. citizen she works at IBM as a global sales executive overseeing the company’s Analytics Cloud business across all international markets. Karmen holds a Bachelor’s, BBA Accounting, Marketing, Global Studies, College of William and Mary. Karmen is one of the co-founders of Women in Big Data, works with SPEAK Mentorship and The City Eats.

Tina Tang, Senior Director Product Marketing, SAP HANA for Machine Learning & Advanced Analytics
Tina is an evangelist, marketing strategist, mentor, and start-up advisor who works with teens, women, early talent, autism spectrum individuals, Fortune 1000 companies, non-profits, and entrepreneurs to reach their fullest potential. Tina co-founded Women in Big Data; lead an intelligent app challenge for Google Cloud & SAP; developed the Autism at Work conference with Stanford University, SAP, HPE, EY, and Microsoft. Tina holds degrees from the University of Texas at Austin. Her day job is with SAP as an award-winning marketing exec.

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Databricks hosted a meetup in collaboration with the West Coast chapter of Women in Big Data on March 29, 2018.
Click here for a report.

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After weeks of preparation, the Women in Big Data (WiBD) Southern California chapter, in collaboration with Women in Data Science (WIDS) Southern California and PyData Los Angeles, held a SoCal Showcase Meetup on Mar. 29th, 2018 at DataScience.com’s headquarters in Culver City. This event attracted a mix of men and women alike to learn more about the opportunities provided by these organizations and celebrate the second event for WiBD SoCal in its inaugural year.

Visit the SoCal Chapter Meetup page

Attendees waiting for the opening

April Zeng gave the opening speech

This meetup aimed at providing a platform for all who are interested in supporting women in big data, data science and open data to network and connect with each other as well as to hear about the career journeys shared by the key speakers. The meetup was kicked off by the co-founder of the SoCal chapter, April Zeng, a student in the USC Marshall MS, Business Analytics program set to graduate this May who has spent her final year in the program launching the WiBD So Cal chapter to support like minds. April introduced the organizational history of WIBD and shared her experience as an early career professional working for a big accounting firm where she was the only female on her team. She saw the need for more women in the field of big data and also, as an early career professional, sees the power of those who unite to support women in a data related career.

Wenzhen Zhao

After April kicked off our event, the microphone was passed to the WiBD SoCal Awareness & Evangelism committee lead and current USC Marshall MS, Business Analytics candidate in her first year, Wenzhen Zhao, who introduced her experience as a tech-driven student who received discouragement from family members and school leaders when they taught her that a female brain is structured differently than a male brain and therefore she should choose her career path accordingly. Wenzhen defied the odds and shared her story about how she built up her confidence with help from females around her with like minds. Wenzhen presented the mission of WiBD, introduced the partners and sponsors, including Intel, LinkedIn, and the USC Marshall MS, Business Analytics program, and shared about our inaugural So Cal chapter event held last fall at USC, featuring four female big data professionals from Netflix, a company that has since become an organizational WiBD partner.

Roselyn Byrd

Roselyn Byrd, incoming WiBD SoCal lead and MS Business Analytics first year candidate at USC Marshall, introduced the organization structure and our focus on hosting future panels, as well as tech trainings, as our key deliverables to members.

To wrap up the intros, our chapter advisor and co-founder, Ilyana Salem, welcomed our featured speakers: Elizabeth Amini, Rachana Mukherjee, and Sandra Perea, who spoke about their career journey, work experience, and job hunting suggestions from different perspectives.

Professor Elizabeth Amini

Elizabeth Amini is the CEO of Anti-AgingGames.com and serves as an adjunct professor at the Marshall School of Business where she teaches healthcare analytics and game analytics for the MS, Business Analytics program. When Elizabeth is not fiercely searching for data donations for analytics projects from healthcare related organizations (she can make sure there are signed NDAs!) she is expanding her reach and cultivating an exceptional network as President and Co-Founder of the USC Trojan CEO Network. Elizabeth shared her career journey and discussed how she found big data an incredible field to work in with unlimited potential. Becoming a professor in data analytics is a coincidence, as was becoming a CEO; however she truly enjoys helping students who are ambitious about changing the world through analytics. With real world data, Elizabeth has led students to help solve real business problems. Not only does she help students to make their career dreams come true, she is working with them to make an important impact for others in terms of healthcare or gaming-related businesses and more. Elizabeth referenced how Google and Stanford University combined big data with cancer prediction, leading to great success, and explained how data would change people’s lives in that “big data is the trend and will largely support the future development of diverse industries. It is driving changes.”

Rachana Mukherjee

Rachana Mukherjee is currently serving as the Director of Analytics and Data Infrastructure at Evite, the world’s leading online invitation service. Rachana has over 12 years of progressive experience in the data analytics and Business Intelligence field. In the last three years, Rachana has been actively transitioning from an individual contributor role to a technical leadership role that oversees high performance learning teams organized to deliver the highest value to the business. She loves building scalable data platforms, systems integration projects, internal company tools, and to improve mundane, inefficient processes through programming and automation. Rachana spoke about how she noticed trends in big data and successfully persuaded her CEO to make changes in data platforms that largely helped the business thrive. Rachana encouraged females to overcome the fear of stepping on others’ toes, to confidently declare their own opinions, and explained how to persuade others and bring changes to the company, with a key emphasis on the importance to connect data scientists with the deep structures and leadership initiatives across any business.

Sandra Perea

Sandra Perea is an experienced data scientist whose current focus is marketing analytics for Capital Group. She also partners with CEOs, executives, startups and established companies to analyze and interpret complex digital data. With the application of the latest tools in data analytics, Sandra discovers the meaning of data and infers conclusions to assist clients in their decision making. Sandra believes in driving growth and revenue using a structured approach aligning the analytics goals with business goals. Sandra knows that curiosity, proactivity and resourcefulness are important to unlock the story behind the data and successfully communicate it. From this angle, Sandra gave valuable advice about how to communicate with human resources within an organization to be more competitive, how to understand positions based on the stage of companies in their development and growth, and how to brand yourself through LinkedIn, GitHub and a website portfolio. Sandra encouraged females to participate more in networking events and to seize opportunities whenever they come to you.

Keying Que

After three great featured speakers, the WiBD SoCal Mentorship Committee lead, Keying “Claire” Que, introduced our upcoming mentorship program and welcomed everyone to join our community. A connection between mentors and mentees will be built based on individual skills and professional interests or expertise areas. Members who filled the mentor-mentee preference survey will have the chance to be both a mentee to learn from fellow members as well as a mentor to give back to fellow generations of talent. The mentorship program is designed to bring everyone together and make a difference. The program will be officially launched very soon. We sincerely invite you to follow the updates and join us!

Mahalakshmi Raghavan

To bring the program to a close, the WiBD SoCal training lead and USC Marshall MS, Business Analytics candidate Mahalakshmi Raghavan shared details about our next technical training opportunity: Natural Language Processing (NLP) with SpaCy, expected this coming September 2018. Stay tuned by becoming a member on our MeetUp and following our event announcements!

Ushita Palande

Finally, WiBD SoCal Networking Committee lead and USC Marshall MS, Business Analytics candidate Ushita Palande explained the benefit of becoming a partner and sponsor, and introduced how to sign up and join us. Networking continued after this formal portion of the program where the guests had the opportunity to talk with speakers freely and continue in the vein of sharing suggestions and opinions with each other inspired by each our presenters.

A few WiBD SoCal Chapter Committee members at the Meetup: Mahalakshmi Raghavan, Ushita Palande, Keying Que, Roselyn Byrd, Hadeer Hammad, Rachel Feldman, April Zeng, Wenzhen Zhao

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