Most people want to be involved in analytics, but only a few understand it properly; and while this field is largely male dominated, there has been a steady rise in the number of women beginning to enter this domain. In fact, India has some very intelligent and highly active women leaders, playing around with numbers and technology with ease, breaking the stereotypes, and viewing this field with a different lens.
While there are some who have studied abroad and came back to their country, there are others who have become global leaders in analytics. Indian women such as Dr. Radhika Kulkarni, Rwitwika Bhattacharya, Mamatha Upadhyaya, and Ujjyaini Mitra are some of the few who have carved a niche for themselves in the analytics community both in India and abroad.
A graduate of Harvard Kennedy School's Master's in Public Policy Program and a Bachelor's from Wake Forest University, Rwitwika Bhattacharya founded Swaniti Initiative when she came to India and realized that while the corporate sector thrives on analytics; Indian government and particularly elected officials have not tapped into this space much. She envisioned Swaniti and built key partnerships and programs and a team focusing on data and technology working to provide key insights for the government using analytics. Prior to Swaniti, she had worked at the World Bank as an Associate on labor market issues, as well as in firms like UNFPA and FICCI.
Another woman spearheading the analytics space in her company is Dr. Radhika Kulkarni, who is currently the Vice President of Advanced Analytics R&D at SAS. A Master’s in Mathematics from the IIT, Delhi and a further Master’s and Ph.D in Operations Research from Cornell University, Dr. Kulkarni oversees software development in many analytical areas including Statistics, Operations Research, Econometrics, Forecasting and Data Mining.
Talking about the matter of women in analytics, we found that this men dominated industry is gradually changing. However, owing to a few women in the analytics space overall, recruiting women talent in analytics is challenging for organizations.
Nonetheless, there are many organizations and companies which support and nurture women talent. Organisations such as SAS have several women at all levels within the Analytics Divisions – from individual contributors who are recognized throughout the institute as “the expert in a particular area” to senior managers who are responsible for key flagship analytical products from SAS; and several of them play important roles in leading professional organizations in addition to their responsibility at SAS.
In fact, Rwitwika tells us that the core area of analytics at Swaniti was developed by one of her female colleagues (who is now a graduate student at Tuck) and that they continue to have women participate in the analytics work. Thus, if given the right environment, women can do wonders!
Moreover, big players such as Capgemini and Airtel have women-friendly environments to attract more female talent and nurture them into leaders.
Mamatha Upadhyaya, Global Head of Data Science & Analytics | Insights & Data spills the beans on women employees at Capgemini as she talks about the analytics department of the company, “Some of the key expert positions in Capgemini’s analytics department are led by women, but we want to do much better. Our fresher pool has a lot more women, and Capgemini has inspiring women role models and a very good program at mentoring women leaders.”
Before joining Capgemini in 2011, Mamatha started her career as a trading analyst in Chicago, where she worked on risk computations and quantitative modeling. In subsequent roles, she also took on statistical and predictive analytics. Currently, she facilitates Capgemini’s data science and analytics ambitions and practices across the globe, determining key global market strategies and solutions and enable deliveries. Meanwhile, she is also the brand ambassador for Capgemini India and is at the forefront of “Be the you you want to be” campaign.
Moreover, Mamatha believes the growth in formal education on data science and analytics programs, has helped people to prepare and visualize a career in analytics. Sharing her views, she says, “In India women don’t shy away from analytics related subjects in school- technology, mathematics and statistics. So with a little help in visualizing the career potential, the analytics industry can attract more women talent.”
Another women inspiring many is, Ujjyaini Mitra whose love for mathematics landed her a campus placement at McKinsey as an analyst before she moved to Airtel and is currently Heading Analytics at Bharti Airtel.
She has established analytics as a part of business decision making and works at the forefront with business leaders, building the Advanced Analytic capability within the firm. She plays the role of Subject Matter Expert in Analytics with a special focus to consumer’s Usage and Retention (UnR) across Airtel’s product family, Customer service Experience and Market Research.
She reveals that Airtel has One Consumer View team, that combines market research and advanced analytics. In her own words: “We have good few women in the market research team, while I lead the Analytics department, where I am the only lady; since it is not easy to find a woman Analyst with desired skill sets.”
According to her, there are 3 biggest challenges with being at the forefront in the analytics space - time, as advance model building is an iterative process; getting leaders to invest in advanced analytical tools and finding expert trainers to develop skills of the team.
Furthermore, finding the right talent, the need to keep learning, innovating and launching promptly is another common challenge in the analytics domain. As the proliferation of new tools and technologies can be overwhelming, it is important to keep at the forefront of all the development which requires a lot of ground work and learning.
Moreover on a technical level, Radhika commented that, “Some of the current challenges are in the world of automation, streaming data analytics, and other areas with increasing demands of scalability, performance and resilience.”
When asked what advice these strong women would have for others of their gender, they all had the same underlying message, i.e. “Be confident of your strengths”. We couldn’t agree more, since becoming an expert, will render your gender or ethnic origin irrelevant. So, we would like to conclude with simple yet significant words by Ms. Maya Angelou, an American author, poet and civil rights activist, “Nothing will work unless you do!” Happy Women’s Day!
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As the Content Strategist for Analytics India magazine, Apoorva takes care of editing & writing articles, covering analytics news, taking interviews and managing the social media marketing.