Devshree Golecha, Vice President of Data Engineering, Architecture & Analytics, TDECU

Ms. Devshree Golecha is a seasoned Technology Leader with 15 years of experience leading enterprise-wide Analytics, Automation, and Optimization projects. Currently, she serves as Vice President of Data at TDECU. She served as an Adjunct Professor of Quality Improvement and Statistics at the University of Houston. She has been the Keynote Speaker at several world conferences. She is the Global CDO Ambassador, CDO Magazine and Chair for the CDO RTF, State of Texas. She is an Ambassador at WiDS, Stanford University.

Ms. Golecha has been recognized as 40 under 40 by Houston Business Journal and CDO Magazine. She has also been named as one of the Leading Academic Data Leaders in 2022 and also one of the Global Data Power Women 2021and 2022 by the Chief Data Officer Magazine. She is also featured in P.O.W.E.R, the international magazine for women.

Recently, in an exclusive interview with Digital First Magazine, Ms. Golecha shared her insights on the changes that have occurred in the tech industry, her career trajectory, plan of action to increase women in leadership roles, and much more. The following excerpts are taken from the interview.

How has the tech industry changed for women since you started in tech?

Over the past decade, the technology and data analytics industries have made progress towards increasing gender diversity and inclusion. Women are more visible and represented in leadership roles, and there are more opportunities for women to enter and advance in these industries.

One of the biggest changes has been the increasing number of women in technology and data analytics roles. According to a report by the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT), the number of women in computing and mathematical occupations increased from 26% in 2010 to 27% in 2019.

There has also been an increase in the number of women-led startups and women in leadership positions in tech companies. Women are now more visible in the tech industry, and their contributions are being recognized and celebrated.

There have also been efforts to address gender bias and create a more inclusive workplace culture. Many companies have implemented diversity and inclusion initiatives, unconscious bias training, and mentoring programs for women. At TDECU, we have women dedicate ERG. We all went through unconscious bias training. There is an immense emphasis on DEI effort and initiatives.

However, there is still work to be done to achieve gender parity in these industries. Women still face barriers to entry and advancement, such as gender bias in recruitment and promotion, and a lack of female role models and mentors. Additionally, women of color and those from other underrepresented groups face even greater challenges.

Overall, while there has been progress, the technology and data analytics industries must continue to prioritize diversity and inclusion to create a more equitable and innovative industry.

Devshree, can you tell us about your professional background and areas of interest?

I started my career in sales in the banking industry in India. After moving to the US, I started preparing for my Six Sigma Green Belt certification and switched my career from sales to process engineering and business optimization. That’s when my interest in analytics and statistics got intense and later, I did my Six Sigma Black Belt and Master Black Belt. At that point, I decided that I will continue to pursue my career in the field of data and analytics as problem solving became very interesting to me. Currently, I am leading cloud migration, master data hub platform and enterprise data catalog development efforts so these are some of the transformational areas that are of interest to me at this point.

In your opinion, what should be done to increase the number of women in leadership roles?

  1. Address unconscious bias: Unconscious bias can lead to a lack of diversity in leadership positions. Companies can provide unconscious bias training to help people become more aware of their biases and work to overcome them.
  2. Provide mentorship and sponsorship: Women benefit from having mentors and sponsors who can provide guidance and support in their careers. Organizations can create mentorship and sponsorship programs to connect women with experienced leaders.
  3. Implement fair hiring practices: Companies can review their hiring practices to ensure that they are fair and objective. They can also consider using diverse interview panels to reduce the impact of unconscious bias in the hiring process.
  4. Offer flexible work arrangements: Women often face challenges in balancing work and family responsibilities. Companies can offer flexible work arrangements, such as remote work or flexible hours, to help women manage their work-life balance.
  5. Create a culture of inclusion: Companies should create a culture of inclusion where all employees feel valued and included. This can be achieved through diversity and inclusion training, regular communication and feedback, and inclusive policies and practices.

By taking these actions, companies can increase the number of women in leadership roles and create a more diverse and inclusive workplace. I would also encourage fellow women leaders across different industries to mentor, empower and support women to develop and grow in their careers.

Women aren’t the only underrepresented group in tech – what can be done to make tech more diverse across race, class, and gender?

  1. Implement inclusive recruitment practices: Companies can implement inclusive recruitment practices by using diverse job descriptions, reaching out to underrepresented groups, and removing bias from the hiring process.
  2. Provide training and development opportunities: Companies can provide training and development opportunities to help employees from diverse backgrounds acquire the skills and knowledge needed for success in the technology industry.
  3. Establish diversity and inclusion metrics: Companies can establish diversity and inclusion metrics to track progress and hold themselves accountable for creating a more diverse workplace.
  4. Increase representation in leadership: Companies can increase representation of underrepresented groups in leadership positions to provide role models and support for employees from diverse backgrounds.
  5. Create a culture of inclusion: Companies can create a culture of inclusion where everyone feels valued and respected. This can be achieved through regular communication and feedback, inclusive policies and practices, and diversity and inclusion training. At TDECU, we recently did DEI survey to capture such sentiments and feedback.
  6. Collaborate with diverse communities: Companies can collaborate with diverse communities to build relationships, identify opportunities for partnership and collaboration, and increase awareness of careers in the technology industry.

I believe by taking these actions, companies can create a more diverse and inclusive technology industry that reflects the diversity of society and provides opportunities for all people to succeed.

What first sparked your interest in working in the fintech industry?

When I began my career, I didn’t specifically plan to be in a certain industry, it happened by chance that I found a sales job in a bank in India and that kick-started my career. It gave me a huge opportunity to learn about banking industry. I believe fintech is a great area due to –

  1. Rapid growth: The Fintech industry is rapidly growing, driven by the increasing demand for digital financial services and the adoption of new technologies such as blockchain, artificial intelligence, and machine learning. This growth creates opportunities for career advancement and the chance to work in a dynamic and rapidly evolving environment.
  2. Innovation: Fintech companies are known for their innovation and disruption of traditional financial services. They are constantly developing new products and services that leverage technology to make financial services more accessible, convenient, and affordable. Working in Fintech offers the opportunity to be at the forefront of this innovation and contribute to the development of new financial products and services.
  3. Potential for impact: Fintech has the potential to make a real impact on people’s lives by creating new financial products and services that are more accessible, convenient, and affordable. This can help to address issues such as financial exclusion and inequality and improve financial literacy and education.
  4. High salaries: Fintech firms often offer competitive salaries and benefits packages to attract top talent. This is especially true for roles that require specialized skills such as data science, software engineering, and cybersecurity.
  5. Work-life balance: Many Fintech companies offer flexible work arrangements such as remote work, flexible hours, and unlimited vacation time. This can help to create a better work-life balance and improve employee satisfaction.

As the Vice President of Data Engineering, Architecture & Analytics at TDECU, what’s the most exciting thing about your job?

The fact that I can see data travel through its entire journey. The end-to-end data value chain, right from generating and gathering data to raw data going through the transformation process and ready to be used for reporting and analytics and finally translating into actionable insights that are utilized by the business to make data driven decisions. That’s the power of data, that entire data journey excites me.

What is it that motivates and inspires you in your everyday life?

The fact that life has an expiry date, and it is not endless, so I treat every single day as the last day and try to make the best out of it. I love to express gratitude for everything in my life including myself. I like to put my health first so love waking up at 5am, get my workouts, meditation done and eat homemade healthy meals. I love to read, and I believe there is so much we learn just through books that it would take more than a lifetime to gain such wisdom that we can gain through books. My favorite book is The Bhagavat Gita. I am a big believer of self love so as much as I appreciate, recognize, and empower others, I do the same for myself. I never end a day without telling myself – “You are a Queen”

Are there any women in tech that have particularly inspired you?

In all honesty, all women around me inspire me. We all have our unique skillsets and experience and I believe as a woman balancing work and personal life is a huge deal. Kudos to all the women and their journeys.

Fun fact about you?

I am trained Indian classical dancer in Kathak. I am also Taekwondo Blue stripe belt and, on my journey, to be a black belt. I love hiking and I want to hike all the national parks in the US. I have a lot of passion for organic and natural skincare, so I have a small organic botanical skin care business.

What are you particularly proud of in your career?

That I am doing a job where I can empower people to make fact-based decisions that can help them grow their business and measure their success.

But other than that, I am most proud of the fact that I am using my knowledge and skillsets to teach and sharing it at the conferences and CDO forums to bring more awareness around the power of data.

What advice would you give to women who want to enter the tech industry?

  1. Build your skills: Develop your technical skills by taking courses, attending boot camps, or earning a degree in computer science or a related field. There are also many free online resources available to help you learn coding and other technical skills.
  2. Find mentors: Seek out successful women in the technology industry who can provide guidance, advice, and support. Mentors can help you navigate the industry, provide career advice, and help you build your professional network.
  3. Network: Attend industry events, join professional organizations, and connect with other women in the technology industry. Building a strong network can help you find job opportunities, gain exposure to new ideas and trends, and build relationships that can support your career growth.
  4. Be confident: Believe in yourself and your abilities. Don’t be afraid to speak up, share your ideas, and take on new challenges. Confidence is key to success in any career or industry.
  5. Advocate for yourself: Negotiate your salary, ask for promotions, and seek out opportunities to advance your career. Don’t be afraid to advocate for yourself and your career goals.
  6. Embrace diversity: Embrace diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Seek out companies that value diversity and offer opportunities for women to succeed in the technology industry.

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