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.
I am so excited about writing this article I don’t even know how to begin. Really, I am a journalist by trade but the last time I wrote for a newspaper was in 2010. Since then I have had many other jobs, but I haven’t felt the pressure of a deadline in a long time.
So, why am I writing this article then?
Well, someone suggested I write about my experience with She Loves Data events. I couldn’t say no. It was an excellent chance to flex my muscles as a writer.
Who was that person?
Let me tell you more…
The first time I saw Jana was at the Data is the new black event, back in March. I have to say my expectations for the event weren’t that great. I had been to many events “for women” where a few successful ladies give pep talks to an audience of mostly expat women who are looking for inspiration, validation and a purpose. What usually happens in these talks is that I leave feeling less inspired and even more frustrated. Why can they do it but I can’t? How can they be so fit and successful? When did they learn how to create their own businesses? How can they run their own business when I can’t even find a job?
Singapore can be very harsh to women, especially when we don’t work. Employers tend to assume we are bored women looking for something to keep us entertained, and not smart women with skills and something to bring to the table. I was asked several times in interviews what my husband does. I was also asked who would take care of my daughter if I started working. I was even told that my salary expectations were too high and that “I didn’t really need the money”.
To be asked these questions and to have these sorts of assumptions made about me is infuriating.
So, what am I still doing in Singapore?
Jana has a lot to do with it. See, I was totally wrong about the content of the event. The all-female panel shared struggles, talked about difficulties, explained how difficult life was at moments. They didn’t rub their success in the audience’s face. These women overcame obstacles, jumped through hoops and over hurdles to get where they are. They all had things in common: being women, incredibly bright, humble and working in the data field, whether by chance or by choice. I still wasn’t sure what data was about, but I was truly inspired and I needed to learn more. I went home and started researching, I read articles and watched videos. I learned about data visualization tools and realised that it all tied in really neatly with my background.
And what background is that?
I am Portuguese and left my home country fresh out of university, in 2004, to pursue my dream of being a journalist. I moved to Spain where I worked for several newspapers and magazines. But the economic crisis hit hard and many papers went bankrupt, including my main clients.
It was time to pack my bags and go back home. Obviously, after making a living from chasing stories, asking uncomfortable questions and writing for hours… after years of arriving home late and eating cold pizza in the morning, how was I going to get my kick of adrenaline? PR and event management didn’t really work so I started teaching.
What? How do you even go from A to B?
With bills to pay and putting to good use something I already knew. In my case, Spanish and English. I taught children, teenagers, adults, corporate, public schools, one-to-one, large groups, you name it. The adrenaline was back! Standing in from of people, teaching them a new skill, listening to their questions, thinking on my feet. When preparing my classes I always tried to add some humour and make things light and fun.
A year went by and I had to decide whether to renew for another year or move again as life was getting quite claustrophobic. In a turn of events that included the start of a new relationship I packed my bags again and went to the UK. I was going to keep on teaching but ended up working in an International School where I quickly went from Receptionist to Deputy Director of Studies. Soon there would be a restructure and I applied for a job in a university. I got it and in under a year I went from Administrative Assistant to Senior Officer. It was a great job: I led a student support team with 7 amazing women and about 8.000 students.
What does this all have to do with data?
Great question, as the politicians would say. At the time I didn’t know, but I was dealing with raw data and trying to make sense of it every single day. I dealt with students, modules, schedules, classes, allocations. It would’ve been a lot easier to do that with some specific software and a data analyst in the team. As a journalist, I had to read reports and write articles. I was the one deciding what information to use and knowing what mattered to my readers. This is also data analysis. Who knew?!
What was my next step?
I kept a close eye on this She Loves Data thing and as soon as they announced another event I signed up. The event was called “Introduction to Data Analytics” and it was only for women. About a hundred of us attended this all-day masterclass on the basics of Data Analysis.
How did it go?
It was awesome! I saw Jana again and confirmed that she is set in helping women find the best in themselves: to develop new skills and to find or confirm their worth. Right at the start, she showed everyone how to connect with each other on LinkedIn. On that day this network became interesting to me.
Jana then introduced Quinn Pham, from Meiro, and Steve Remington from Minerra. They spent hours teaching new terminology, showing software, breaking down things that seemed very complicated. We discussed data visualization and context. This was definitely not an event for techies… I am not one and enjoyed every minute of it. I learned that interpreting data is no different from translating from one language to another. I also learned that pie charts make Steve’s cats sad. Trust me on this one, after hearing Steve talk about pie charts you will not see them in the same way again.
Who else was there?
Asides from the dozens of women from all sorts of backgrounds and industries, many of whom I had the pleasure of talking to during and after the event, the She Loves Data team brought some heavy-weights to share their professional journeys: Katrien Bollen from Google, Melissa Ries from Tibco, Stephanie Chin from HP. Down to earth women who have been where some of us are: suffering from imposter syndrome, feeling like we are not worthy of a seat at the table. Let me tell you that the seat at the table is not Thor’s hammer. You don’t have to be worthy… you just need to want it.
What happened after the workshop?
I approached Jana, Quinn and Steve. I told them how much I had enjoyed the event and how friendly the environment was. I also liked how the trainers were not patronising or condescending.
We shared contacts and I got in touch with Jana and asked if I could join her, Pavel, Quinn, Steve, Nelya, Patricia, Alex and many other volunteers who are making the world a better place by including and welcoming women into a field that traditionally is difficult for us to access.
Well, now I finished writing my first article as Content Producer for SLD. Soon I’ll start co-managing the newsletter with the help and support of some incredibly bright and friendly people. I am proud to say I have found my #DataTribe.