The Business Analytics Center and the Business Analytics Club kicked off Women’s History month with a dynamic panel discussion featuring top female Atlanta business analytics leaders. More than 80 MBA, MSA, undergraduate students, and Atlanta-area analytics professionals packed the scenic 9th floor CODA Atrium to hear the insights and advice offered by the panel.
"It was one of the best panels I've attended since coming to Scheller," said Stacy Feeling, MBA '23. “Getting the benefit of the experiences of women at that professional level was useful and inspiring. I really appreciated their completely candid remarks."
Jennifer Toeppner, EMsMOT ‘99, attended the event with her daughter, Hailey, a current ISYE student. “I attend a ton of professional events. This panel was outstanding, much more forthcoming and open than you usually see. I enjoyed hearing female leaders impart solid practical advice backed up by stories about their personal career history and experiences.”
Hailey agreed with her mom. “I definitely plan to use some of their advice during internship interviews. I also really enjoyed hearing where they started career-wise—and where they are now.”
The panel discussion was moderated by Georgia Tech MBA ‘20 alum Jasmine Au Howard, senior manager of Web Marketing, Acquisition Campaigns at Intuit Mailchimp. Additional panel members included:
- Rubina Ohanian, Managing Director – Chief Data & Analytics Officer - Applied Intelligence, Accenture
- Natalie Smith Olubuyide, Senior Analytics Manager - People Operations, Google
- Andreea Popescu, Senior Director of Data Science, Operations, Shipt; Founder & Board Member, ATLytiCS Inc.
- Leslie Thomas, Solutions Manager, Thought Logic Consulting
- Prital Ullal, Executive Director, Morgan Stanley Wealth Management Technology – Analytics, Intelligence, and Data, Morgan Stanley
“What a powerful night with so much inspiration and insight—with true authenticity from all of the panelists,” said BAC Corporate Engagement Manager Sherri von Behren. “I love that we were able to bring students, faculty, community partners, and, of course, our rockstar women leaders of the panel together for an incredible evening. During the networking portion, everyone I spoke to raved about the quality of the panel and the wisdom shared. An event like this is the WHY for what the BAC does as a Center and confirms my passion for the amazing GT community.”
The wide-reaching and frank panel discussion touched on topics such as: falling in love with data; how to find a mentor; fostering a culture of innovation; and using AI tools in both effective and ethical ways.
Insights from the panel included:
- You may not know your passion right away and that is okay. Keep doing what you are doing and you will discover the type of work you love. Don’t be afraid to specialize. Discover what makes you different in the marketplace and then put a stake in the ground and stand out.
- There are many different kinds of mentors. Seek out senior leaders you admire, but don’t underestimate the coffee chat. Coffee chats with co-workers are an excellent way to understand where you fit in and how you bring value to an organization.
- Understand the problem before you try to solve it. Don’t get so excited about what you can do with the data that you miss finding the strategic information you need. You can have the perfect model, but it’s no good if it just sits on your computer.
- You don’t always have to be the smartest person in the room. Sometimes it is good to let go of the technical knowledge and learn from others.
- As a leader make yourself: available, accountable, and accepting of mistakes.
- In tough moments—and you will have them—dig deep. Be very truthful, then put mechanisms in place so it doesn’t happen again. Be ready and learn from your mistakes.
- If you want to cultivate innovation, you have to let your employees fail. As a manager, it’s hard, with deadlines and other expectations, but if you really want innovation, you have to encourage risk taking and exploration. It’s also important to have your team’s back—in bad times especially.
- Curiosity is key. Ask the tough questions to understand what matters to your stakeholders. A vital element to success is being able to tell the story of your data and explain why it matters to the bottom line.
- When using Open AI and other tools, don’t lose YOUR voice. If we all use ChatGPT, we will all sound the same. Also important, be skeptical. Analytics leaders especially need a healthy sense of skepticism. AI is just one tool we have.
- One thing we need to remember with regard to data governance, output governance, documentation, etc., we are using models to ESTIMATE. Be aware: as good as all of our algorithms and technology are, they will sometimes be wrong.
- As new and different tools come into play, the ethics of using these tools will be more and more important as we explore both underlying and unintended biases.
- The “elephant in the room”—dealing with men in the workplace who may “talk the talk, but don’t walk the walk.” For example, if you are in a meeting and someone (man or woman) talks over you or continually ignores your contributions, you should be patient, kind, and tolerant, then firmly insist the behavior not happen again after the meeting ends.
The event concluded with a lively Q&A session and time for networking, with the panelists staying long after the program ended to speak with every student who wanted a one-on-one conversation.
About the Business Analytics Club
The panel was organized and sponsored by the student-run Business Analytics Club in cooperation with the Business Analytics Center. The mission of the Business Analytics Club is to develop a stronger understanding of analytics practice, going beyond what is taught in the classroom.
Business Analytics Club Co-Presidents Emma Watkins MSA ’23 and Savannah Thomas MBA ‘23 resurrected the dormant club in Fall 2022 and have transformed it into a dynamic and active organization, bringing together students interested in analytics and data science from across Georgia Tech.
“After taking Dr. Hu’s Business Analytics for Managers, I looked for student analytic opportunities on campus and saw there was definitely more that we could be doing,” said Thomas. “I had actually been looking for the right opportunity to invest my time and re-starting the Business Analytics Club seemed like a great way to make a useful impact.”
At the event, BAC Program and Operations Manager Laura Smith thanked and recognized the two co-presidents: "It is altogether fitting that a panel celebrating strong women be organized by two young female leaders. These two women thought both strategically and creatively, working long hours to help put on this great event."
Looking back, Co-President Watkins couldn't have been more pleased with how the event turned out.
"I am still, several days later, reflecting on the different things our panelists said. It was such an incredible event and one of my favorite parts was seeing how engaged the crowd of women was," said Watkins. "It’s one thing to plan an event and think that it’s a neat idea within the club, and another entirely to see that other people are actually getting something out of it too! Really, an honor to be a part of something so exciting and (hopefully) inspiring to women who are looking to get into the analytics field."
Additional club officers include:
Phoebe Chiem - VP of Student Support (Evening MBA); Sarah Jane Tong - VP of Alumni Engagement (Full-Time MBA); Sydney Ballish - VP of Club Affairs; and Sean Kelstrom, VP of Corporate Relations (MSA).
View the event
To view the event in its entirety, visit this link: Women in Technology and Analytics--The Path to Leadership.
Also, please check out the Photo Gallery, with wonderful pictures from student photographer Tyler Parker.