Interview with Agnieszka Piechocka, Customer Advisor, Forensic & Compliance Team at SAS Institute
Why did you decide to pursue a career in tech industry?
I was lucky growing up as I never had problems with school. During my whole education I was trying to decide what I would like to do in the future. Finally in high school I decided to focus more on science rather than humanities and chose a class with advanced level of Math, Physics, and Computer Science. And I loved it! But from the beginning I was sure, that I’m not meant to work with machines only – that’s why I decided to study Econometry and Computer Science, with focus on Data Analytics. Back then I didn’t know that this part of tech industry will grow so much – I knew that I find it exciting to draw conclusions based on data and I get a lot of satisfaction while writing code that could do something. All the rest was just a brilliant stroke of luck.
What is your current business position, your core skills and responsibilities?
I’m currently working as Customer Advisor at SAS Institute. SAS is one of the biggest analytical companies, which develops and markets analytics, which uses data to aid in decision-making. Currently I’m part of the Forensic & Compliance team, so on daily basis I help our customers to prevent and fight fraud that affects their organizations.
What competencies would you like to develop and why?
One of the areas that I would like to dive in is cloud computing service. As a lot of businesses are now moving to cloud, I would like to understand that trend better to be able to use it whenever it can be beneficious. I’m also a big fan of text analytics, I wrote my final thesis about sentiment analysis and I hope to go back to that topic and expand my knowledge. And finally – I’m still quite new to fraud-related topics, but I find them interesting and exciting. I’m trying to get a certification in that area and from December I’ll take part in the course around fraud investigation techniques. I’m really looking forward to it.
What do you think is the best part of being a woman in the data and analytics domain?
I think as there are still more men in data science, women can bring their point of view to the table and come up with the topics of analysis that no one thought before. Recently I’ve read a book “Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men” by Caroline Criado-Perez. She points out how many standards in our lives are set by data collected by men and about men. Women pay tremendous costs for this bias, in time, money, and often with their lives. In my opinion it’s high time to change it and encouraging more women to join data science for sure is a good place to start.
How female leaders are driving positive change in the tech industry? Do you have in mind any example of tech superwoman who inspires you?
Being a woman in tech is both challenging and rewarding. Each individual woman can make a difference by joining the tech industry with a goal to become a professional, whose gender doesn’t matter. Recently I was reading a story of Florence Nightingale, who was a nurse during the Crimean War (1853-56) and thanks to her collection of data about health of soldiers, she made clear conclusions about how to improve the treatment and decrease the number of deaths among the army. I really like that idea of data analytics making a real difference in our lives. And talking about more recent tech women – I don’t follow anyone in particular but I do admire women who I work with and every day I’m inspired by their passion and professionalism.
What are your thoughts on the next transformation in the AI and analytics field?
I really believe that AI is here to make our lives easier. I think in the next years there will be a grow in use of Internet of Things, VR/AR, robotics, chat bots – everything that can help people. I’m also sure that more and more companies and public institutions will see the opportunities that analytics can bring – ideally it will lead to better data quality and more open data sources. But while talking about all those great possibilities, I’m also aware that one of the biggest challenges of our times is data privacy. It’s impossible to go ahead without taking cybersecurity and ethics in data science in consideration, so I also see a lot of potential in those areas.
You were involved in the Beyond Tomorrow Conference organized by SAS in CEMEA region. Can you share some most important insights and key takeaways from this event?
It was my first opportunity to be a part of such a conference, so everything was new, and I learned a lot just by watching the preparation process. The biggest surprise for me was the amount of work needed to organize such an event. There were so many things to think about and prepare, so many people were involved. I had a chance to be one of the panelists in discussion about how I fell in love with SAS and data science. It was great to share my point of view and confront it with way more experienced professionals from different companies.