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Panel of Distinguished Female Leaders Reflect on Careers in Technology and Analytics

Panelists included, left to right: Jennifer Priestley, Cheryl Pressley, Jackie Breiter, Graciela Chadwick, and Prital Ullal.

Panelists included, left to right: Jennifer Priestley, Cheryl Pressley, Jackie Breiter, Graciela Chadwick, and Prital Ullal.

More than 70 people gathered at the Scheller College of Business on April 4th for the Women in Technology and Analytics Panel. The all-star panel was hosted by the Georgia Tech Business Analytics Club and the Business Analytics Center at Scheller College of Business. The event attracted groups from an array of Atlanta Universities, as well as representatives from Chick-fil-A, Southern Company and NCR. All gathered to hear a distinguished set of female panelists share their personal experiences and advice for future woman analytics and technology leaders. The panel included:
  • Jennifer Priestley: Prof of Statistics & Data Science, Assoc. Dean, Graduate College, Kennesaw State Univ.
  • Jackie Breiter: Digital Optimization Leader, NCR
  • Graciela Chadwick: Director, Chick-fil-A HELP
  • Cheryl Pressley: Data Analytics & Reporting Manager, Southern Company
  • Prital Ullal: IT Director, Enterprise Data and Analytics, NCR
The panelists reflected on the varied journeys that led them to their current roles, as the term “big data” wasn’t part of the academic landscape when they were in college. In fact, none of the panelists were exclusively focused in analytics or statistics at the start of their careers and they represented undergraduate degrees ranging from finance and industrial engineering to family and consumer science. Despite their diverse backgrounds and industries, a few themes emerged about why they’ve all risen to leadership within their tech-savvy organizations. Each panelist noted the importance of creativity and curiosity, a desire for lifelong learning and a deep understanding of the math and science behind their work.

The ultimate goal of the panel was to arm attendees with insight into how to further their own careers, especially for women who work in predominantly male environments. Girls Who Code reported that while 74% of middle school girls express interest in STEM, that interest drops to 20-30% of women at the college level. To combat this trend and improve gender representation in STEM fields, the panelists offered this advice:
  • Reinforce to young girls that math is fun, and that they are just as capable as their male classmates.
  • Find role models, mentors and sponsors in your life and career. If you see someone similar in a leadership position, it makes you much more confident that you too can reach the next level.
  • Go for it! Women are often prone to questioning their own abilities or wanting to have something 100% figured out before pursuing their next role or project.
  • Choose your boss, if possible. Beyond looking for the right role or organization, look for the right boss who will coach you and advocate for you.
  • Be comfortable saying, “I don’t know, but I can figure it out.”
  • Stay up to date on your programming and tech skills, but don’t neglect your soft skills. They will set you apart.
  • Seek honest feedback from your mentors and accept that feedback as a gift.
  • Get out of the imposter syndrome mindset. You do belong—you’ve already gotten yourself there!
  • Be confident, voice your opinions and be present.
  • Be great where you are.

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