By Namita Nair:
A binary classification of people’s motivation is somewhat of a misnomer. For simplicity sake, I’ll commit a deliberate aberration.
I’ve met two sets of people – while a ridiculously passionate and self-aware set of people pursue their interests consistently, the other set uses each interest as a springboard to jump to the next one, dividing, combining ideas and methods along the way.
I was the captain of the latter crowd until my first month on my first job as an Analyst at at a tech company. I did precisely what I was asked to do – nothing more or nothing less. A typical uninspired fresher! In my free time, I discretely watched funny dog videos on YouTube or checked out the latest exhibitions in the MeT (not that I had any plans, the means or the visa to visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York back then). This continued until my boss caught me watching something on the Internet (most likely the video where babies laughed non-stop). He set up a 101 immediately and had a conversation – or ‘the conversation’ 🙂
He explained the value of the data I had access to and the kind of civil and monetary impact I could create by making tools that would generate valuable insights. He asked me to look beyond the numbers and run with the questions those numbers posed. From then on, there was no turning back. Data became my passion.
I learned how data can be applied to improve businesses and my own life. I set up trackers for every aspect of me that I could reduce to a quantitative entity – grocery shopping, workouts, commuting time, sugar intake and even a correlation analysis for my basil. This time I didn’t want to springboard, I wanted to stay footed. Feeling inspired, I joined a Master’s programme in Information Systems. After two intense years in the academic world, I decided it was time for me to have a personal life. Marriage and an early pregnancy followed.
While I was pregnant, I did a number of courses, online and others – Python, Big Data, Tableau and Machine Learning.
I realized that one doesn’t necessarily need expensive degrees and certifications, but a passion and the skill to work with data.
Though I loved the ease with which I was able to get access to these incredible materials, the learning experience was rather lonely. I knew there must be many women out there who’re sitting in front of their systems, trying to crack a bug, looking for tutorials or wanting to share the joy of finally getting it right after hours and hours of labour.
I wanted to find these data-sisters, connect with them and be inspired by them.
A career in data science requires technical knowledge, but also creativity in terms of business development and a good understanding of the industry economics. On looking around, I found many online data science forums that generated voluminous materials on data, but the conversations lacked a sense of community and empathy.
I wanted to be a part of a space where women can share knowledge and ideas, talk about their work, collaborate on projects and give each other a much-needed group hug. That’s how my community – She Drives Data (SDD) came into being.
Data science is a fantastic and fulfilling field for women, whether for school goers looking for interesting projects to work on, women looking for a career switch or women returning to the workforce after a sabbatical. The SDD community is an attempt to bridge the gap between all these groups and create constructive conversations to benefit each of them.
What next? I created my community website and waited for my fellow data-sisters to come in thousands.
During this time, I found my fairy Godmother Sairee Chahal, Founder & CEO of SHEROES on Twitter and messaged her. Within minutes she replied saying, “Love what you are building, by we’ll build something cool together”. We talked a week later, where she gave me her valuable insights. The very next day, SDD and SHEROES began their exciting journey together.
Today, my SHEROES data-sisters form a strong network of over 7K members. We bounce off ideas, create and participate in data challenges, share our knowledge and resources by the minute of the day. I’m overwhelmed by the love and support I get from my community.
Conversations with my community members revealed that a lot of women are so data passionate that they aren’t merely looking at securing a job in this field but intend building their own products and even setting up their own companies. Supporting them in their aspirations is the way forward for me and SDD community.
I’m also excited to be part of a community panel at the upcoming SHEROES Summit in Trivandrum on Sept 8, where I hope to connect with more and more women in analytics in person!
Like Dr Maya Angelou said, ‘When you get, you give. When you learn, you teach’.
And we hope to do just that in spades.
About Namita Nair:
A data enthusiast and a doting mom, I love to create things that make life better, be it automation tools or brownies. I founded “She Drives Data”, a community for women passionate about data analytics, and those who want to learn! Moderating this community on the SHEROES platform brought me hugely fulfilling positive responses. This is a hub for data enthusiasts and data newbies who learn via free sessions, tutorials, mentorships, community chats and conversations. You can join the “She Drives Data” community here and find support for your data dreams!