Guest Blog - Women in Data & Analytics: Hema Prasad, Westpac

Ripesh Damania 07.03.2019

To celebrate International Women's Day on March 8th, this week we will be bringing you a series of guest blogs from leading senior females in Data & Analytics. They will be discussing their success, career-defining moments and what advice they would give to another female looking to pursue a similar career. This is what Hema Prasad, Product Manager - Analytics had to say.

hema_prasad.jpgProfile: Hema qualified with a Master’s degree in Computer Applications specialising in Data and Digital Architecture. During the first 15 years of her career, she delivered multi-million dollar portfolios of IT programs in the US and India, servicing Fortune 100 clients in financial services, health, Government, automobiles, supply-chain, aviation and pharma. With her specialty skills in agile delivery, Analytics, data architecture, governance and data security, she draws on vast experience leading large cross-functional teams across multiple shores. Moving to Australia six years ago, she continues her career journey formulating data strategies and leading Analytics programs aimed at the futuristic transformation of the data & digital landscapes of organisations. She is currently employed with Westpac as a Product Manager in Analytics.
 
In her spare time, Hema engages in voluntary work particularly tutoring STEM students. She actively contributes to the cricketing pursuits of her two teen boys. Her younger son plays for the Australian under-16 cricket team.

What are the key habits that you feel make you successful?
 
Passion and commitment - I love to get my hands dirty whenever necessary to lead by example and to inspire people to give their best. It is ever-amazing to witness how these twin traits can convert anyone into a rock star and help teams crack some of the toughest nuts.
 
People focus - Everyone brings unique skills to the table. Without a doubt, people are the most precious asset in every organisation. Taking special interests in talent retention and people development plans has helped me in motivating teams to bring out their best and to achieve their goals. If people are taken care of, I believe everything else falls in place.
 
Innovation - Solving business problems through creativity and innovation keeps my job satisfaction levels high. Focusing on the bigger picture, purpose and outcome gives me the impetus to think out of the box. I make sure my teams are empowered to be innovative.
 
Open to learn and adapt - With the playing field constantly changing, I am driven to keep my perspectives renewed in order to stay relevant. There is heaps to learn from every situation we face and each person we meet. The more informed and learned we are, the more agile and adaptive we become. I encourage a variety of knowledge sharing activities amongst team members, so that the knowledge doesn’t stagnate but flows around, creating enriched learning opportunities for as many people as possible.
 
What's the most valuable piece of advice you have received in your career and how did it help you?

To learn something new everyday. Been amazed at how powerful this piece of advice turned out to be. I put this into practice not so long ago, but have already started seeing my work life integration getting better, as I am constantly looking to prioritise things more efficiently in order to make time for learning. Not only does it give me something to look forward to everyday but also helps break monotony and keeps my mind rejuvenated.
 
What's the most challenging situation you have faced in your career and how did you overcome it?

Relocating with family to Australia in 2013, I felt it challenging to adapt to the Australian way of life during the first few months. I realised that changing my mindset first and habits next is key to successful adaptation. I began taking time out for myself, for things that make me feel fulfilled and for ways to connect with the community. I started pursuing a hobby, engaging in more voluntary work and tutoring high school students. My life outside work was slowly taking shape in a more meaningful way. It’s been my greatest learning experience so far. I am grateful to this culture for the healthy work life integration it offers and for the focus it places on giving back to the community.

 
How do you approach making a difficult decision? 

Rather than looking at “easy or difficult” which could be a view influenced by perceptions, I prefer to shift my focus to “right or wrong”. This approach has helped me diffuse some of the most difficult situations with confidence and a sense of righteousness. Since decision contexts always involve time, space and people, I make sure to discuss with the relevant stakeholders to bring in their perspectives so that the decision is well made.
 
What do you believe will be the most in demand skills over the next 10 years within Analytics and why?

There’s Data, Data, Data everywhere but an acute shortage of people who can create value out of the data and help businesses solve problems quickly and more efficiently. I envisage a huge demand for such people who can bridge business and technology i.e. Technologists with business acumen.

Join in on the conversation on Twitter for this years' International Women's Day using the hashtag #BalanceforBetter

Ripesh Damania's picture
Director | Accounting & Finance - Commerce & Industry, IT & Analytics
rdamania@morganmckinley.com.au