Unravelling the Journey of a Data Scientist
Dr. Sheela Siddappa, Chief Advisor- Data Science, Bosch Engineering and Business Solutions
Dr. Sheela Siddappa is the Chief Advisor of the Data Science Program at Bosch Engineering and Business Solutions. She guides the organization in Technical Solutions, Business Trends, Consultation, Recruitment, etc. With 15+ years of experience in machine learning, Dr. Sheela has offered solutions to business problems in domains as diverse as Manufacturing, Health Care, Energy, Smart city, Industry 4.0, and many more.
Read through the excerpts of the interview to know more about her illustrious career as a data science professional and technology leader.
Creating a Career Path in Technology
Dr. Sheela is a specialist in Machine Learning and Optimization techniques. Being part of the research and development initiatives of the corporate world, she got opportunities to work on practical business problems. With time, she became better at providing better solutions. But, she stresses that there is a long way to go and its constant and conscious efforts to improve is that matters.
The skill to connect business problems with the appropriate Data Science (DS) solution that is feasible, practical and easy to incorporate is the key to success. Dr. Sheela can recognize the need for providing guidance and solution to the problems. Her focus is to always look for innovative and effective solutions in the Data Science fields. She says she has a burning curiosity and a higher urge to provide the best solution. She also finds time to mentor the juniors and share her knowledge and experience with the world.
Professional Challenges as a Woman
According to Dr. Sheela, women have to face several professional challenges such as,
- Communication: To be able to communicate convincingly to make the point to the business and win their confidence.
- Understand Business: To be in technology and provide ideas or solutions means, one should also know the importance of the solution needed for the society/companies products and business. It is important to be able to speak the business language via technology. There is a need to be knowledgeable on multiple aspects as business needs a holistic approach, not a one-dimensional approach in technology
- Comfort Zone: Women should no longer stick to their scope of work and be laid back (like an obedient, studious first bench student). It is essential to learn beyond their scope of work. Understand the connection, the holistic view, the problems faced, trade-off, etc. Women should connect with other employees beyond the department and understand the work to provide appropriate solutions.
As a woman, Dr. Sheela Siddappa followed a set of simple rules to keep up the pace of the technological world;
- Being an Influencer: As a student, her approach to study was by explaining to others (pretending to teach the chairs or tables in the roomJ). She knew that she could make others understand only when she knows things better. She made her presentations common sense based so that to influence the audience/ business.
- Unique: She found herself selecting a hard path always. Nothing intentional, but she would like to blame it on her interest/likes. Typically, when students go to study in the USA, their view is to take up courses (1) that can provide them good grades or (2) courses that are of high value to help them to get a well-paid job. But, her personality never allowed her to think so much about the future nor to take courses for better grades.
- She did what she liked, but when she was studying or at work, she never differentiated between day/night, benefits/ no-benefits, A grade/B Grade, recognition/no recognition, the scope of work/not. She says, ‘I only know I have to work’.
- She found reasons to do challenging projects instead of finding reasons for not taking or working on them. E.g.: A sound-based data science solution was expected from one of the customers. It was a new concept those days and had no idea about the topic. The sales team wanted to know whether they can take up the project. Dr. Sheela read a lot of materials, literature review, etc., and acquired knowledge in the concerned area. She and her team completed the project successfully by putting in a dedicated effort. Today, they have patents and publications on the topic.
Gender Gap in Tech Space
While discussing the gender gap for women in tech, Dr. Sheela Siddappa has listed a few points on why women are less in leadership positions. Based on her viewpoint, the reasons are:
- Very minimal networking
- Travel – unable to travel on short notice
- Availability – not available “anytime” for discussions/work
- Multiple focus areas such as Children, Spouse, Parents/in-laws, Home, Family Health, Lifestyle change, and Work
Tips for Aspiring Women Tech Leaders
- Do not say- “I cannot”, “This is not me”, “Not now- Maybe later”.
- Try to take up the opportunities when the opportunity flows in because when you are ready the opportunity might not be.
Dr. Sheela Siddappa is a great supporter of women-centred initiatives that help them to explore their capabilities. She has awarded women for their great/innovative work, supported the “work from anywhere” concept, encouraged networking, recruited women for various job roles, assigned projects outside the department for better learning/networking, and given opportunities to travel outside India for work- when the time was favourable for them.
Awards and Recognitions
Dr. Sheela is the Associate Editor for Inderscience – International Journal of Big Data Management Journal. She has been ranked as the ‘Top 10 Data Scientists in India 2020’ by Analytics India Magazine.
She is the recipient of the Tool Method Invention Award, Best Poster Award, International Best Speaker Award and many more for her innovative and novel work. She has filed three patents and has more than 25 International journal and conferences publications to her credit.
She is the Advisory Board member in several Data Science programs. Dr. Sheela is a member of various societies such as the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), Alpha Pi Mu, Institute of Industrial Engineers, NASSCOM, INFORMS, and so on.
REVA Academy for Corporate Excellence, REVA University has selected Dr. Sheela Siddappa for ‘Top 10 Women Tech Leaders India Awards 2021’ in association with Terralogic Inc. and co-sponsored by CloudxLab. The jury selected Sheela’s name for the award because of her unstinting support to women and for her contributions towards data science.