Women in Data: Transforming the Workplace with Bold Moves and Allyship
Earlier this year, data leaders from across the industry gathered at Informatica World to discuss ideas on how to help women overcome obstacles in today’s changing work environment. The Women in Data Luncheon was such a success that we took it on the road.
At our series of Women in Data Breakfasts on the Informatica World Tour in New York City, Chicago, Toronto and Washington, DC., we sold out to enthusiastic crowds at every venue! I think that’s because, more than ever, women continue to reassess what work means to them and organizations continue to rethink how to foster meaningful change for women in the workplace.
At the Women in Data Breakfast in Chicago, Informatica CEO Amit Walia reminded us of the importance of supporting women at work: “Building off the excitement around the topic of women in data started at Informatica World back in May. Today we plan to continue building a network of women leaders and welcoming a panel of peers to share their success stories as we navigate many transformations happening around us.”
Lessons from Women in Data Leaders
In Washington, D.C. and Chicago, I had the pleasure to moderate panels of esteemed industry leaders, while my Informatica colleagues Marianna Adamian, Head of Global Industry Portfolio and GTM, and Amber Hamilton, Global VP Industry Sales & GTM, moderated the panels in Toronto and New York, respectively. All panelists at the events shared personal, real-world stories about how they have navigated and overcome hurdles they faced in their own careers.
Many thanks to all of the distinguished leaders who joined us. In every session, we posed vital questions to the panel. Here we share takeaways from just a few of the many engaging and insightful conversations we enjoyed with our outstanding panelists:
Washington, D.C – September 15
How are you investing for future generations and diversity?
Adita Karkera, Chief Data Officer, Deloitte Government & Public Services, shared that she is very focused and intentional with diversity and women — a goal she feels is especially important in the government sector. Adita described her experience organizing a women in data chapter in the federal government space. When asked how to hire more women in data, she explains that it’s important for us to start in grade school, encouraging little girls and helping them find their voice.
How should women approach taking bold moves?
Lori Smith, Data Management Services, Sr. Director, Freddie Mac, explained how important it is to be courageous and make bold moves and to help other women do the same. She pointed out that this is especially important when you are mentoring someone — sharing experiences can inspire and embolden others. But also, as a mentee, hearing real-world success stories from your mentor can inspire you to take action.
Chicago – October 18
Sometimes it takes people in our network to find our hidden geniuses and to take bold risks in our career. Can you share how you made a bold move from having a career in business to one in technology?
Morgan Templar, CEO & Chief Data Evangelist, Get Governed LLC, explained how a previous mentor was able to see things she did not expect from herself. The mentor encouraged her to pursue her previous role of chief technology officer at a time when she did not even know what that title really meant. Pushed past her comfort zone, Morgan was able to excel at something she never realized she would love to do. She puts in effort each day to replicate this for the women that she mentors.
Many of us here would not be where we are today without a mentor/sponsor/ally. Why do you think allyship/mentorship /sponsorship are so important for a woman’s career success?
Maryann Byrdak, CIO, Feeding America, explained that she has had several mentors throughout her career. She noted that while the perfect mentor does not exist, they each taught her new things about herself. She took those unique interactions and learned from them, each making a difference in their own way.
What advice do you have for women on achieving a work-life balance?
Wendy Batchelder, SVP of Global Data Governance & CDO of Trust, Salesforce, provided advice on some key things that helped her achieve a work-life balance. She emphasized the importance of focusing on your timeline to ensure that you maintain some family time and some “me” time. For example, she sets a hard boundary for times that she won’t take meetings, reflecting that “her children are only little once and so bath time and story time are a priority for me.” She also advised us to look at what we really want and what we are willing to do or give up to achieve it.
Toronto – October 25
What important skill sets are required to succeed as a woman in data?
Aida Tahiri, Strategic Leader, Enterprise Data and Analytics, Apotex, Inc., spoke about the importance of being aware of societal conditioning — both in your personal and professional life. Women often take on additional challenges, try to fix everything and overload themselves. She reminded us that you don't need to do this to succeed. You don’t need to be everything to everyone all the time. She also shared with the group the importance of recognizing your allies in the room. Your mentor can be anyone, and often your best supporters are your male colleagues acting as your “cheerleader”, even when you are not at the table.
What’s a tangible step you can take today to drive positive change for women in data?
Berkley Warburton, Managing Director, Financial Services, Accenture, taught us to embrace our own personality. She advised not to try to force yourself into being someone you are not. She explained that she came to realize that she can still be a leader by being herself. She does not need to be the loudest in the room and overstep others. She can nurture her employees and show them that they can be “soft” and still be powerful.
Reflections and Next Steps
When I think back on all the amazing women who are part of the growing network of women in data that we are building, I am honored to be part of it and to help it grow. At Informatica, we are truly moved by all the customers and partners who have joined us in supporting and nurturing the community. We are working together to find ways to build a workforce where women are truly valued, trusted and empowered. When businesses are supportive of women, it encourages every voice to be heard — a win for all, regardless of gender identification.
To learn more about women in data at Informatica, join our Women in Data LinkedIn group.