International Women’s [Data] Day

To celebrate International Women’s Day, we recently hosted a panel discussion with female data leaders on what’s driving the success of their enterprise data programs and how they are accelerating the path to Data Intelligence across their organization. 

It was an honor to host this panel and to be surrounded by such successful and powerful leaders in the data space. I come from a long line of female activists who fought for suffrage back in 1911 when International Women’s Day was originally established. I am inspired everyday by my great grandmothers who fought for social, economic, political and cultural advancements for women. Today, I am equally inspired by the stories, advice and words of wisdom shared by the women on this panel. 

This panel featured five data leaders from large enterprises such as Cardinal Health, MFS Investment Management, Voya Financial and, TELUS Communications, and more. These women discussed their career paths, their current data program, building a strong data team, and ultimately accelerating the success of their programs to make an impact on their organizations. Below I’m sharing my thoughts on the most impactful takeaways from this amazing conversation. 

My top three takeaways from International Women’s [Data] Day 

The panelists shared lots of great information from their years of experience in the data space. They shared best practices on building a data program, hiring the best talent, and measuring success. The women also shared personal anecdotes about their career trajectory, being a female leader in the data space, and what inspires them in their jobs. This was truly a lively and interesting conversation. Here are my core takeaways: 

  1. Delivering trusted data and aligning with the business is crucial to the success of your data program

  2. Believe in yourself and remember to always demonstrate confidence 

  3. Find a mentor to help guide you on your journey

Delivering trusted data and aligning with the business is crucial to the success of your data program

At Collibra, we see delivering trusted data as paramount to building a successful data-driven enterprise. Karen and Carine both highlighted the importance of high quality data, as well as finding the right executive support and aligning with the strategic initiatives of the business. 

“We do hit challenges sometimes because data governance is baby steps. You need to make sure you are aligned to a strategic business initiative. It is really important to get the business to understand the importance of data quality because data is information. The business needs to use high quality data to make informed business decisions.” -Karen Sheridan, Sr. Data Governance Analyst, Voya Financial 

 “We can no longer manage data using spreadsheets. We need to find the right level of automation. We need to ensure that the data governance program is funded the right way and that we have the right executive support. Success is measured through people, processes, technology and change management.” – Carine Botturi, Director, Data Strategy & Enablement, Chief Technology Office, TELUS Communications

Believe in yourself and remember to always demonstrate confidence

It can be difficult to be a woman in the data space. In technology, it is common to be the only woman in the room during a meeting. I was inspired by the stories of Judy and Jennifer who gave the advice to always believe in yourself and know that you can do anything.

“As a single mother going through my career, I have experienced lots of challenges, but it is also something I really take pride in. It helps me stay confident because I know I really can do it. Adversity, if you can get past it, just makes you stronger. A couple words of wisdom that I learned the hard way is that if you are hired, you are qualified. So don’t ever doubt yourself and take that opportunity and move forward.”

“As women we tend to struggle with realizing that we are enough, that we are doing enough and that we are successful in our approach. I started my career in the technology space and really have grown to have a passion for data and recognize the importance of data for our business. Sometimes the challenge is convincing people of the importance of data, but it’s my job to speak up and help the organization shift that mindset to think about their data truly as an asset.”- Jennifer McGhee, Director of Data Strategy & Governance, MFS Investment Management 

Find a mentor to help guide you on your journey

Navigating your career can be difficult, especially as a woman. I loved hearing the advice from Ranjana and Jennifer to always know your strengths and find support to navigate the organization. 

“I would say two things: be bold and know your strengths. Know your super powers so you can leverage them across the organization. It is also important to find a mentor that recognizes your skills and helps you navigate an organization especially in that middle management phase.” -Ranjana Young, VP, Enterprise Data Management, Cardinal Health 

“Having someone that can help you navigate your career and navigate the organization that you are in is important. If you are going to influence change across your organization you need someone who can help you navigate the politics and structure of your organization. From there it is important to network within your organization because data touches everyone’s function across the entire enterprise.” -Jennifer McGhee, Director of Data Strategy & Governance, MFS Investment Management


I would like to thank all the panelists for sharing their stories and wisdom with us. I learned a lot by hearing about each of your journey’s. This was truly a great way to celebrate International Women’s Day and to honor all the women who make history everyday by choosing to challenge!

Want to hear more from the data leaders?

Listen to the replay now

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