Chapter Lead, South Africa
Reprinted with permission. Edited by Rasyida Paddy
I strongly believe that it is our attitude to life more than our skills that leads to our success. And I live by the Serenity Prayer: “Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
My name is Ocea Garriock and I am the Chapter Lead for South Africa. In addition to my work for the local chapter, I have been assisting in the Leadership program for SLD volunteers. This involves coaching the Senior Leadership team, and running leadership courses on a regular basis for the leaders and team of volunteers.
I raised my hand to be part of this community as I have a passion for data and for assisting women in finding their voice and developing to their full potential. She Loves Data is the perfect platform for me to follow both passions. It has helped me to build a global network of like-minded people and to expand the impact I can have.
As many volunteers would have claimed, it is a challenge to remain motivated as a volunteer, as other areas of life place demands on our time and often take precedence over our volunteer work. It is also hard to lead a team of volunteers as they often have demanding day jobs and can’t always give enough time and focus to their volunteer work.
That said, as a community, we have to keep reminding ourselves of the reason we volunteered and the purpose we are driving towards – and in this case, the ability to lift other women in the technology space.
I often found it to be challenging as a women in the IT and data analytics industry. As women, we tend to suffer from imposter syndrome and have these negative voices in our heads that question our success and progress. I learnt how it takes self-awareness and self-confidence to overcome these challenges. We need to believe in ourselves and have an “I can” attitude. Then we need to build a network of other women, as well as men, that can support us and encourage us on our journey.
So what would my advice be to other women looking to break into the space and break the glass ceiling? Believe in yourself. Be brave and courageous. Then ask for help where you need it. Having a coach or mentor can help. Build and expand your network.
Ultimately, I thoroughly enjoy what I do and there is something to be gained from volunteering – and that is personal growth and a sense of purpose. I love working with a team of people that share my passion for developing more women into data careers. She Loves Data has connected me to many inspiring and dedicated women. I also love how it gives me a global platform to expand my contribution and impact.
Ha Giang Tran
Co-Lead, Vietnam Chapter
Reprinted with permission. Edited by Rasyida Paddy
“Math is only for smart boys”
I love Math. Dearly. I can spend hours pondering a Math problem. To twist, turn, and read the problems in so many different ways give me a sense of pure joy and order.
But the older I get, the more foreign the path to applied Math seems to a young girl.
I was selected for an advanced Math class for gifted students. In a classroom full of boys, and being one of the only 2 girls, I was just lost. I understood literally nothing on the black board.
I felt so stupid and embarrassed.
My friends were surprised that I even decided to attend that class. “Why don’t you choose something more feminine? Math is for smart boys.”
I dropped out 2 days later.
10 years later, I went for my first technical SQL training offered by She Loves Data. It was during this training where I met women from all walks of life who went through the same path as I did. The trainer, 5 years my senior, shared how she quit a 10-year career in banking to become a data analyst.
I realize how important it is to be around other women who share your journey and succeed in the path you want to pursue. And this time, I didn’t quit.
Having benefited from the exposure that I gained from my time with the organization, I decided to raise my hand and join Angélique Masse Nguyen, Duyen Dau, CPA (Aust.), Annie Duong Phan, and Hai Tran as Co-Lead for She Loves Data Vietnam chapter.
Just last month, She Loves Data Vietnam Chapter launched our data up-skilling program, which we offered free for all participants. This initiative was part of She Loves Data’s Certificate Program designed to help women who are interested in data up-skilling, especially SQL, to get a hands-on intro with experienced female analysts from Shopee, PwC, IAG and Amanotes.
We received great feedback from the program, and it gives me immense pleasure and pride to pay-it-forward and help build the community from the ground-up, as we offer women in the country a platform for them to learn and grow their technical capabilities in tech.
The original post was published on LinkedIn. Follow Giang to read more about her thoughts.
Instructor (Data Science & Marketing Analytics
Edited by Rasyida Paddy
American educator, businessman, keynote speaker and author of the bestselling book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”, Dr. Stephen Covey, is known to have said, “Most of us spend too much time on what is urgent and not enough time on what is important.”
This got me thinking about how I choose to spend my time in a way that can optimize my impact on the community and the people around me.
When I came across She Loves Data (SLD) in 2018, I was attracted to the organization’s mission to inspire more women to become active contributors in a data-driven world. As a woman who comes from an accountancy background and eventually began working in business roles that require me to interact with data, I knew I have something to offer the community. And that was how I got started as a volunteer instructor for SLD’s signature courses series.
Over the past four years, I’ve benefited tremendously from the network of SLD supporters and volunteers, who inspire me and always offer me something new to learn from. After every SLD workshops I always get re-energized by the enthusiasm, curiosity and desire to learn from all the participants and volunteers!
There is no denying that volunteering comes with its own sets of challenges, one of which being giving the commitment and dedicating the time it deserves. However, this challenge can easily be tackled through effective personal time management strategies, and finding other volunteers to share the load with.
Ultimately, I personally believe that one always gets more out of volunteering than what you put in – especially when my commitment with SLD aligns with my personal and professional growth goals, it’s a perfect harmony.
Professionally, and outside of She Loves Data, I am managing a team for the first time, which comes with the typical challenges around people management, motivation, aligning the team and ensuring everyone drive towards a common goal. There is definitely no one-size-fits-all solution, so it has been important to explore my strength, weakness and personal leadership style to find an approach that feels the most authentic to me.
What I have learnt from this experience is that it’s important to be open to experiment, trying new things even if it’s outside of your comfort zone, and try to challenge your own assumptions.
So, what do I have to say to anyone looking to get into the data field? Data, when explored and utilized in the right way, has tremendous power to help optimize decision making and create new solutions. It’s also an exciting time to break into the field – today, we are seeing people from very diverse backgrounds getting involved in data and digital analytics field. So take the leap! The time is now.
Global Operations Specialist
Edited by Rasyida Paddy
One of the best things about volunteering is the great sense of accomplishment you get from serving the community and other people. And that is why I’ve chosen to raise my hand to be a volunteer as a Global Operations Specialist at She Loves Data.
Volunteering has definitely given me a strong sense of purpose, as I contribute in ways that I can towards a greater good, instead of just thinking about “What’s in it for me?”
In addition to channeling my strengths towards supporting a cause that I truly believe in, I get to meet other inspirational and driven volunteers, from whom I get to learn something new from. By being part of the She Loves Data community, I also get the opportunity to attend workshops and programs that She Loves Data runs with its partners.
That said, one of the hardest things about volunteering would be the process of getting into it. Just like a job, everyone will need to go through the process of onboarding; learning about the organization, its structures, the team, systems, and how to navigate all these to get your work done. And because everyone else is also volunteering, we have to figure a way to collaborate flexibly while everyone else is also juggling a million other responsibilities with their work and personal commitments!
But truthfully, that is all part of the fun, which helps me break the monotony and boredom I may face from time-to-time with everyday life. By volunteering, and doing online courses, I’ve found the best way to enrich myself and grow as a person.
Venetia SK Ho
Global Operations Specialist
Edited by Rasyida Paddy
As a millennial, I’m very conscious of how I contribute and give back to society. I’m
extremely grateful to be surrounded by people who inspire me to grow and be a better
person every single day.
When I came across She Loves Data back in 2020, I was super impressed by what the organization stands for, its mission and the way the community operationalized itself to inspire more women to pursue careers in data. As a data enthusiast, I knew I wanted to be part of this community. And that was how my story as a volunteer in the global operations team at She Loves Data started in July 2020.
Two years in, and I’ve learnt so much from my fellow team mates and other volunteers. During my time with She Loves Data, I am happy to have met and worked together with members from various parts of the world. Leadership and crisis management are the biggest areas of growth for me. Keeping a community engaged during the pandemic when we had
to go fully virtual was no mean feat. The fact that we persevered on and continued running the programs that we did during this period shows the level of passion and commitment from every single volunteer we have in this organization.
Like many fellow volunteers, I’ve had to learn to juggle my time and. One of the challenges about volunteering would have to be dedicating the right amount of time and energy to deliver quality work, while balancing time between families, friends and a full-time job. That said, knowing that I’m giving my time towards a worthy cause helps keep the fire burning, as
I know I am spending time meaningfully to learn and grow with a like-minded community.
Joining She Loves Data has helped me overcome some of my fears, which I encountered earlier on in my career – which include a fear of negotiation. Thanks to the experiences I have gained both from my full-time job and volunteering work, I have also learnt to be courageous and to seize opportunities to practice my skill to be a better negotiator.
So what advice do I have for other young women like myself looking to find their breakthrough in their careers and life in general? Find your tribe. I’ve truly gained so much by giving back. There is strength in community, and I know I am not alone.
Racquel Sarah Castro, MSIT
Co-Lead, She Loves Data – Manila Chapter
Edited by Nayantara Som
I vividly remember the day when an acquaintance casually asked my mother, “Is your daughter even capable of reading and writing?” That broke her heart and shattered my world.
And that was just the tip of the iceberg.
Discrimination has been a part and parcel of my life, and being treated unequally slowly led to disappointment, self-denial sometimes, and even to a situation wherein I started underestimating my capabilities. Looking back, I can’t blame myself. I was only human. However, despite all of this, I never lost hope – faith in that shinning beacon of light at the end of the tunnel.
One day, I decided to shake myself up, stop wallowing in self-pity and told myself, “I am the architect of my own destiny; the scriptwriter and the protagonist of my own story.” That was indeed the turning point in my life. I thereon decided to prove to the world that cerebral palsy will not stop me from achieving my dreams. It would not be an obstacle, but instead a springboard to my goals. It became my asset. The catalyst that infused a fire in my belly. My superpower.
And since then, it has been no looking back.
I went on to publish five self-published books and anthologies. I started a YouTube channel, wherein I featured some of my passion projects such as She Loves Data. I was featured by our senator in the Philippines, Sonny Angara in his column in Manila Bulletin. I was also featured by different local and international bloggers. My former employer, City Government of Binan, also offered a scholarship grant for me. I will be forever grateful.
People often ask me, “What kept you going?” A lot of factors, but my family was the most important factor. I had this urge to take care of my family, being the first-born child. It is this drive that has helped me achieve my goals. Yes, my journey has not been straightforward – there have no doubt been lot of ups and downs. Losing my father was one of them. It really shook me. But I had to move forward for the sake of my family, and for myself.
Joining She Loves Data has been a turning point in my life. To me it represents an ideal, a movement. A movement that empowers women and helps them stay relevant in a data-driven world. Upskilling is key if we have to thrive and progress. Being a volunteer helps me encourage women to pursue a career in data and technology, to help them walk shoulder to
shoulder with their male counterparts.
Looking forward, I have more goal posts to reach. Getting PhD degree is one of the goals that I plan to accomplish. And yes, having my own farm too. Teaching and guiding the next generation, in my own little way is on my to-do-list. Through She Loves Data I want help women to pursue a career in data and technology.
This article was originally published in The Bulletin Box on 15 April 2021 by the author.
We have seen and continue to see how the ongoing pandemic has set back the progress women had achieved over the past decades. While vaccinations around the world have resulted in some countries easing restrictions and the economy easing, it will take time for people especially women to get back on their feet. In the US alone, the participation rate among working women aged 25 to 54 dropped by 74.2% in September 2020. In a similar research by Affect, it was found that working mothers, in particular, have seen declines in income, career growth, and a negative impact on their job performance.
The “Covid-19 & the Workforce” study by Affect, showed that 68% of men are working full time during the pandemic, while only 49% of women do. “More than one in five working moms (21%) took a temporary leave of absence from a job to handle increased caregiving or household responsibilities.” The impact is not limited to the United States. Globally, the pandemic has shown that it is not gender-neutral.
According to the UN Women and UNDP, this year “around 435 million women and girls will be living on less than $1.90 a day — including 47 million pushed into poverty as a result of COVID-19.” The paper goes further in stating that the effect is not limited to finances. “Violence against women reports have increased around the world, as widespread stay-at-home orders force women to shelter in place with their abusers, often with tragic consequences.”
A Supportive Network
In difficult times, people tend to isolate themselves. However, it is in these trying times that people, especially women, need to strengthen their social ties. There is nothing worse than feeling trapped and powerless.
While some people take comfort in following in the footsteps of people who are larger than life — Mother Theresa, Michelle Obama, Jacinda Arden, or Angela Merkel – that might not be enough for others. There is nothing wrong with relying on the memoirs and sage wisdom from cultural heroes or saints. They can be helpful. However, we can also learn from the experiences of those who are closer to us – our family members.
Outside of the family, there are other networks and relationships we can cultivate. Having a strong support network is particularly important. Below are some of the benefits of having a good support system according to the Mayo Clinic.
Finding a Support System
Finding a network where a person can thrive is a process. Online forums abound for those who value anonymity. Volunteering is another way. There are various organizations in Singapore that need manpower. She Loves Data is one such organization. It is a global not-for-profit community headquartered in Singapore with the aim to inspire women to pursue careers in Data & Tech and encourage them to be bold in their pursuit of a new career.
Depending on the organization and what is required, people can also up-skill themselves by learning while doing volunteer work. I have been part of at least two volunteer organizations since I landed in Singapore. Through these organizations, I was able to hone my marketing skills, primarily because I was able to test out trends, tools, and theories quickly.
Be clear and realistic about what can be achieved. Once a network is found, be an active participant. Networking and volunteering require give and take. I have been fortunate enough to meet so many fantastic men and women who have been and continue to be generous with their time and knowledge. In return, I pay it forward by helping others who are also seeking the same two-way relationship.
Landing a job may not be the immediate result of networking or volunteering, but these help in managing stress or improving mental well-being. Through volunteering, I managed to meet a lovely lady who has since become a dear friend, mentor, and coach. She has helped me deal with stressful situations and has provided me clarity when my judgment gets clouded.
Find a tribe. It can be daunting at first, but it will be worth it.
This article was originally published by Andrew Foster, CFA on LinkedIn on 13 April 2021. Republished here with permission.
A couple of years ago, I interviewed someone for a role. Subsequently, they accepted, and we welcomed them into the bank. I am always curious as to why someone accepts a role. Asking “why did you decide to join us?” helps me refine my interview approach. After all, when you interview, you are selling a place to grow and develop, and when you observe, you are equally being observed.
The answer surprised me.
I saw the red stroller in the corner of your office and knew that family life would be considered here.
For context, at this time, I took my daughter to preschool each Monday before heading into work with the folded stroller. I am in no way claiming that this is anything close to an even burden of childcare and certainly wouldn’t have thought anyone noticed.
The experience got me thinking – what signals do we send in the workplace? How do we attract people to work with us, and how do we retain them?
“Every conversation is actually two conversations going on at once” – Nick Morgan, Power Cues.
The “second conversation” that Nick Morgan refers to is the one beyond the spoken word. It includes tone of voice, body language, and other signals that we send out to the listener. The unconscious conversation is far more challenging to influence.
The sign that I work in a great place came in the form of a photo.
Returning to work after a maternity break was a stressful event in my life. During my maternity, a lot changed, including the office location. Taking advantage of the move, my supervisor requested a nursing room (lactation room) complete with a refrigerator at the new site. Two weeks before my return, I received a photo of the new nursing room.
Looking back, I credit my return to full-time work to my manager’s act of kindness and thoughtfulness. I hope to pay it forward to other women and men at the workplace.
Self-awareness is a significant first step in sending out the right signs. If we can follow it up with authenticity, empathy, and consistency, it will help all of us realize our potential.
My daughters are no longer in strollers, so now what? In a pandemic world, I drop them at school via car each day. In my diary, I have this blocked out as “drop off children at school”.
Perhaps that sounds obvious; however, I commonly hear from industry colleagues that they put dummy meetings in place when carrying out childcare commitments.
Look within your organization – if you are in a leadership role, what signals are you sending? What messages are others taking from your guidance?
As Garima said, are you being authentic and empathetic? After all, a happy, supported team is a productive team.
About the authors:
Garima Mamgain is Singapore-based marketing and strategy professional. She has worked with prominent consumer and business brands. Currently, she leads a critical marketing strategy initiative at a Fortune 500 company. Garima is passionate about driving diversity and inclusion. She volunteers with a non-profit – She Loves Data and is an active member of employee resource groups.
Andrew Foster is a Wall Street executive with a background in large-scale program delivery across London and New York. He specializes in building effective data teams in complex organizations that solve important business challenges. Andrew volunteers with the EDM Council’s Women in Data initiative and leads Affinity Group outreach.
This article was written in partnership with EDM Council Women in Data. Their mission is to provide support for and promote women in the field of data and assist in their development and promotion to more senior roles. Membership is open to all at EDM Council Women in Data and on Linked In
Legal professional and SLD workshop attendee Low Wei Ling speaks to Tay Soo Sien on two of her passions: Tech and animals
Founder of Keep C.A. T. S., a Singapore initiative that looks after stray cats, Low Wei Ling was an attendee of one of She Loves Data’s free workshops. Wei Ling is just the kind of person She Loves Data attracts: one who is curious and constantly seeking to do things better.
“As Gandhi said, how you treat animals is a reflection of your society.” Wei Ling reminded me as we found a quiet corner to chat. Like some, she felt society looks at things too much from an economical value point of view. Hence, strays are seen as a burden rather than opportunities. Yet, animals have their value, even strays, as they can be adopted, and teach children about kindness.
The cat aficionado also shared how understanding SQL at She Loves Data workshops sparked completely new ideas about the way we handle animals. Rescue organizations used to need to spend an inordinate amount of time on logistics and operational tasks. Now, there is the choice to automate and streamline many such activities. This allows them to spend more time caring for animals; serving a larger and wider community of pet adopters.
The serial socialpreneur thought about using data to see what kinds of cats are most often adopted or what are the peak periods for abandonment. She wondered aloud how different animal welfare groups can work together to collate such data, noting that it was almost an imperative since they are already so tight with resources.
Looking back at the first workshop she attended, Wei Ling added, “I really like it because it gives me an introduction to what data analytics is about- just a taster!” Subsequently, she met up with course instructor and Director, Consulting and Client Solutions at Meiro, Quinn Pham who helped her understand the challenges and possibilities of using an aggregator based solution for a unified platform for multiple animal welfare groups.
With her interest in data sufficiently piqued, Wei Ling took the plunge, obtained a scholarship, and finished her data science studies in Hong Kong. She was only one of two females out of a class of fifteen men.
We wish her every success in her data and Keep C.A.T.S. endeavours!
This article is by Soo Sien Tay, She Loves Data PR Lead
As far as conversations on women’s issues go, things have never looked better. Singapore Minister for Social and Family Development Masagos Zulkifli declared (Saturday Jan 30) 2021 as the Year of Celebrating SG Women. Yet challenges remain. One of the most pertinent and recurring issues in every related conversation has been radically changing mindsets about gender stereotypes and traditional gender roles.
This is exactly the primary motivation at She Loves Data; the push for greater diversity and inclusivity in the Tech space. She Loves Data’s global community of 17 chapters operates in 16 countries, with more than 15 000 members from 107 countries. It has pulled together through one of the most trying times in modern history- a pandemic that still rages on, to provide that safe, deeply nurturing, and fun learning environment that takes women further in life and career.
In the past year, She Loves Data has been introducing a series of webinars which is aimed at encouraging and equipping women with opportunities to step up wherever they are. And even in the midst of launching its latest international chapter in London, it organized its most recent webinar, “Career Success, Practical Tips for Becoming Female Leaders in Tech” which featured panelist, Tracy Quah, Vice-President for Marketing, Asia Pacific and Japan, at Informatica.
Somewhere in the course of getting to know Tracy, she revealed the incredible story of how her grandmother risked her life during the Japanese Occupation in order to feed her family of starving children. Few would dare venture where she did. Smuggling opium past truckloads of Japanese soldiers? She was beyond brave. Her resilience and single-mindedness, not to mention the blatant staring down of fear in the eye was practically unheard of among restrained and risk-averse Asian women just after the turn of the century.
Clearly, Tracy inherited her grandmother’s “never-say-die” attitude. She shares freely how this can serve women better, especially in the world of Tech where gender inequality remains a multi-faceted issue despite increased awareness in recent years.
According to a Reuters report, “Singapore faces talent crunch as tech giants scale up” (Wed 27 Jan 2021). The country now needs more tech talent than ever before. The good news is the demand is strong and the supply, weak. Yes, you heard right. This means opportunities are aplenty and the potential, boundless.
In the tech space, the percentage of women in Asia and Southeast Asia has actually surpassed that of western markets like the UK’s and Australia’s. As such, “Tech has become a very powerful lighthouse for change”.
Increasing awareness about gender imbalance in technology has prompted action, resulting in digital talent becoming core people initiatives in most, if not, all companies. While she shares statistics that reveal that Asia has caught up, Tracy pushes the envelope further by asking if that is enough.
Consider Men as Valuable Partners In Your Professional Journey
The way the tech veteran of 20 years and counting sees it, the more involved your male colleagues, and your male leaders along with you in your career, the better!
Gender diversity is not an issue for women only. Successful gender diversity programs today involve men’s participation. Hence, it is up to women to enroll and engage the men in their lives; to make them aware of the unique challenges that women face at work through various life stages. One solution is to turn men into ambassadors for diversity, “both at home and at work”. For females, this takes time, being kind to oneself, and letting go of the perfectionist that may be addicted to people-pleasing.
Speaking about bosses who can be difficult to deal with when they display gender bias tendencies, Tracy offered a huge takeaway, “For all you know the person who is out there to put you down is actually the one who lacks confidence. Maybe he or she could be the one that actually needs assurance.”
Forget Comparing and Forge Your Own Path
Every female leader has their go-to practices for success and Tracy is no different. She summarises three salient points for the busiest of minds.
It is all about purpose, passion, and proactivity. Before all else, define your purpose, and ask what your own path of success looks like. Drop the triggering habit of looking at others and saying, “I want to be like him or her because you are responsible for your own success.”
Then, there is passion. Dig deep down. What are you really passionate about? Your passion is going to make you a wonderful leader and help you groom more of the younger generation. “You have the power to be a change agent. You may not be able to change the world, but by changing yourself, you have already won half the battle. “
In practical terms, this means speaking up in meetings – whether it’s in a meeting or a regular conversation with team members. After all, the difference between followers and leaders is that leaders have a voice. She repeats firmly, “Don’t be shy to share your ideas. No one can deny your achievements. Even though you may lack confidence, your results will speak for themselves.”
And finally – proactivity. Make a plan, pick up new skills, enhance your strengths and use your weakness to your advantage; not as an obstacle. Be innovative and proactive; not reactive.
Strikingly, she puts the money where her mouth is. “There’s no harm in pinging one of us to go out for a coffee or get on a Zoom call…”. In fact, she offered to mentor two lucky attendees at the webinar, despite her busy schedule. With such refreshing approachability and readiness to rally women to continue showing up for themselves and their teams, we are assured the work of women who have come before we have not been wasted. The rest is up to us.
Watch the full episode of the webinar “Career Success: Practical Tips for Becoming Female Leaders in Tech” here: https://bit.ly/2MFhEeI