By Medha Khurana,
I recently had the opportunity to attend the Women in Data (WiD) Flagship Event, one of the hottest tickets in the London data calendar. I had no idea what to expect from the day – but on arrival, I found myself surrounded by powerful, inspiring women in data that were a reflection of who I want to be, and how I want to feel.
I started my own a data journey as an international student in 2021, after spending 24 years of my life in India at home with my parents. What gave me the courage to take this step was a recognition that growth and comfort don’t always co-exist. I wanted to get out of my comfort zone and grow both personally and professionally.
I completed an MSc in Business Analytics at Warwick Business School and shortly thereafter joined Capco as an Associate Consultant in the UK Data & Analytics team. I chose this field because data inspires me and I feel empowered to be able to find the answers to some of the most complex business problems with the help of data.
And empowerment was front and centre at the WiD Flagship Event. There was a contagious energy in the room that inspired me to continue to charge forward to where I know I can be.
The day was jam-packed with exciting events and presentations by a host of influential speakers. From the opening remarks by Martha Lane Fox, to listening to the stories of the famous philanthropist Dame Stephanie Shirley, to the closing speech by Jill Scott, the professional English footballer, the day was extremely fulfilling.
The journey of the founders of Women in Data themselves is also awe-inspiring. How small they started, and how big they have grown today, is proof that determination and perseverance are the key to success.
The event had exhibitors from more than 25 companies showcasing their innovative work in data. The highlights for me were donning an Oculus headset and trying out a virtual interactive ‘3D Data Globe’ demo by one of the exhibitor’s; and Sophia, the human robot who addressed a hall of 2000 delegates. There was innovation in every corner I looked.
There were several key takeaways for me from the event. First and foremost was embedding a strong data culture and diversity of perspective is essential for long-term success. This helps in building a collaborative work environment; creates a room for innovative solutions and eliminates potential bias in data.
Fortunately, at Capco, there is emphasis on both, a strong data culture and diversity. I always enjoy working with people from diverse backgrounds as they bring along their unique experiences offering a broad range of viewpoints.
Another key message by the data leaders at WID was that anyone can thrive in the data industry irrespective of whether you are a statistical person or not. One can be trained in hard skills, but it is the passion, curiosity and the right attitude that can take you to unimaginable levels.
Given we are in the 21st century, there is a tendency to think that gender equality is not as big a problem as it once was. However, at the WiD event it was highlighted that the proportion of women in data and technology has dropped compared to the previous years. So, there is a clear need to further increase the visibility of women in data science and AI who can inspire the next generation of female leaders and encourage more girls to pursue careers in STEM fields.
One quote that stayed with me was that ‘it is not enough to help one woman get a seat at the table, but there is a need to make more seats, so more women can sit in them’. As women, we demand equity over equality. Finally, the message from the WiD founders was loud and clear: ‘continue to adapt and challenge the norm’. We cannot expect change if we don't challenge the status quo.