Women shaping the future of data

Mihai Cristea 27/05/2021 | 15:09

Recently, The European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) released the Gender Statistic Database (GSD). Based on analysing the 50 largest listed companies in each country (from the EU) and the proportion of women in Top Management positions in 2020, the ranking revealed that Romania is leading the top, with a 32% share of women in Top Management.

 

Some argued that the communist background might have something to do with this. Still, before jumping to conclusions, we are starting a series of articles aiming to discover female business leaders and technology thought leaders who are still shaping society.

Our first story will bring forward a report from the well-known technology field – software engineering, which until recently was considered to be preponderantly male-dominated – and one of its most fastest-growing subdomains: Data.

The company that employs the two extraordinary women we included in this article is Endava, one of the most important software development companies present on the Romanian market with seven development centres located in Bucharest, Brasov, Cluj-Napoca, Iasi, Timisoara, Tirgu-Mures and Pitești.

Let us start by introducing Adriana Calomfirescu, Group Head of Data Delivery within Endava. She joined the company in 2009, and as early as 2011, she was a key enabler in nurturing the data capabilities in a more consistent way inside this British company.

Adriana envisioned the development strategy for the Data discipline and started to focus first on the Bucharest location, back in February 2015. Soon, her efforts paid off and the Data department she formed inside the company started to accumulate new technical skills on the engineering side, to grow in seniority and to add new roles for Data Analysis, Data Architecture, Data Science and recently Machine Learning engineer roles that enabled the company to employ now more than 200 data specialists in various roles globally, in Europe and Latin America across 17 locations, with a significant presence in Romania.

She focused not only on adding new technical skills to her team but also on growing the capabilities by developing specific data training programs and a yearly Endava Data academy with four modules: Basis, Reporting, Cloud and Machine Learning. The learning modules are delivered by internal and external trainers. Data Science competitions are also organized to run across Endava.

Adriana made a wise assessment of the data value, aiming to make data a strategic asset for the clients and show how many valuable insights could be extracted. Such benefits are enabled by having a reliable and single source of truth populated with the right data where data quality plays an essential role. Adriana understood this early in the process, and she successfully managed to develop our capabilities to serve these kinds of projects better.

When asked about the future of the field, Adriana speaks about Artificial Intelligence and Data Science that, in her opinion, are the hottest topics today. Companies are already starting to realize that dedicated skills are needed to help them make use of their Big Data by unlocking its power and gaining actionable insights. Data and analytics platforms are technology enablers that help businesses to deal with massive data currently available. When the foundation is well defined, it opens the door to Data Science and Machine Learning projects. Banking services and the payments area are among the first adopters of data and analytics platforms, besides media and healthcare following the technology disruption curve.

To make the best of these changes and grow this field with added value in the software industry on the Romanian market, Adriana highlights the vital role of collaboration between companies, professionals, schools, and communities to develop constantly new capabilities. Although the Data field employs highly experienced consultants with solid backgrounds in the technology and data-related sciences (mathematics, statistics, etc.), there is room for talent to start growing a career in the field and rise as young and talented influencers. And that is the case of our second extraordinary woman in this story.

Andrada Olteanu is a young Data Scientist working also in Endava.

Recently, she became the first female Kaggle Grandmaster in Romania and one of the less than ten holding this title in the world, on the most important platform in focused on “competitive data science” – Kaggle.com.

If you did not hear about it, don’t worry too much as, “competitive data science” is a relatively new field, which gained momentum once with the evolution of Data Science as a domain activity. This (Data Science) is an area of expertise that uses scientific methods, processes, algorithms, and systems to extract knowledge and insights from structured and unstructured data and apply knowledge and insights across a broad range of application domains.

Even if Data Science itself as a field has roots in the history of computer science, in the early 80’s, the modern way of classifying the discipline dates only in 2001[1], and the first scientific magazine focused on it was published in 2002[2]. Andrada was then in kindergarten, and it would take her other 16 years to become interested in the field. It was only after graduating Economic Cybernetics, Statistics, and Informatics Faculty from ASE (Economical Science Academy) in Bucharest, when she pursued a Master of Science Degree at Queens’ University Belfast U.K. (starting in 2019) she nurtured the passion for this area.

While at the beginning of the Master studies, she entered first in contact with Kaggle.com, the largest platform for Competitive Data Science, which helps users track their evolution as data scientist while being part of a community that helps others improve their skills.

Also, Andrada considers that Competitive Data Science growth is essential in time. Many users of the platform to grant her the Kaggle Grandmaster title, are demonstrating in competitions how certain problems are solved both by discussing them and proposing working scripts, where someone can follow step-by step their code to reach the solution both strategically and technically.

She also speaks enthusiastically about the future of the Data Science field, which “is continuously expanding each year”, even though it is already an important part of the Tech industry. Once with the transition of the human activity in the digital area, our gadgets (mobile phones, laptops, watches), orders, payments, smart homes, smart cars, everything becomes intrinsically linked with gathering, modelling, and understanding sets of data. She concludes that all these will help us be safer and more efficient, and that’s why Data Science and Cybersecurity are the future!

We are sure that with extraordinary women like these, market development and companies’ orientation towards supporting both business and technical leadership, Romania will continue to have and promote a healthy work environment based on gender equality and equal opportunities based on capability.

[1] Gupta, Shanti (11 December 2015). “William S Cleveland”. Retrieved 2 April 2020.

[2] Talley, Jill (1 June 2016). “ASA Expands Scope, Outreach to Foster Growth, Collaboration in Data Science”. Amstat News. American Statistical Association.

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