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Preqin’s female pioneers in STEM
Role models matter. While the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) field is growing rapidly, the level of female representation in the sector remains low. Women account for less than a third of STEM professionals, so strong female role models are incredibly important to help address this imbalance. By encouraging girls to pursue STEM subjects at school, and later, a career in technology – it is our hope at Preqin that we will soon see industry-wide change.
I studied Mathematics in a class that was 90% male, and then started my career as a quantitative analyst. Speaking from experience, a STEM education gives women so many career choices and inspires the thought processes that are critical for a diverse range of roles. As Preqin’s COO, I never would have imagined this is where I would end up after 20+ years.
Today, I’m proud to introduce some of Preqin’s trailblazing women in STEM. Hear from our expert engineers Sindhu B. Naidu and Hemisha Desai as they share the important skills for a successful career in the field. We also spoke to our Head of QA, Ambica Mahapatro, about the exciting projects she's worked on, as well as data scientist Yuanyuan Shang for a look back on her STEM career.
What are the essential tools to succeed in a career in engineering?
In today's world, a large part of an engineer's job is identifying problems and finding solutions. This requires good technical knowledge and competencies, sound coding abilities, analytical skills, and a desire to keep up to date with new technical trends.
Certain soft skills, like communicating complex technical solutions in a way that your stakeholders understand, are increasingly important. I would encourage everyone to be creative and highly adaptable. Collaboration is also key to ensure teams are on the same page and tasks get done efficiently. Finally, leadership skills are very valuable, especially when you're managing and mentoring a team.
What advice would you give to young women looking to pursue this career?
To have an engineering mindset! Be curious and don’t be afraid to fail. Embrace your responsibilities and never stop learning. There are plenty of resources out there to constantly upgrade and fine tune the required skills. Use every platform as an opportunity to learn something new and keep an open mind. Focus on creating the right network that helps you to work smart.
How has the landscape of engineering changed since you started you career?
Since I started my career in 2006, the industry has changed dramatically as we’ve become more reliant on the benefits of the digital age. I finished my master’s in computer applications in India and have been working in Engineering and Technology ever since.
I’m proud to say that it’s been an incredible journey, especially with the advent of lots of new technologies, languages, and software. I need to learn a lot every day, but who doesn't like to learn and grow? With new inventions and start-ups always on the rise, becoming an Engineer has never been more exciting!
How do you think the field of STEM will look in the future?
It's clear that attitudes are changing within the industry as more and more women opt for a career in the engineering sector. I always encourage more women to choose their career in STEM, given the great number of opportunities in this rapidly growing field.
There are more and more jobs requiring STEM skills, but for some reason we are seeing shortages in these areas. In practice this means that the women who choose to study a STEM subject will likely find to themselves in high demand!
There are a few reasons why I think the STEM skillset will be increasingly important:
What is your role at Preqin?
As a Head of Quality Assurance (QA), I'm responsible for delivering and maintaining the quality of our products to provide a seamless experience to our customers. The team I manage is made up of 32 QAs located in EMEA and APAC.
It’s my responsibility to make sure that staff are hired, well-trained, and aligned to their relevant projects in different cross-functional departments. That way we can maintain high standards while supporting our geographically scattered and multi-cultural teams.
What's the most exciting project you've worked on?
It was probably the the creation of our ‘Preqin Pro’ platform. Preqin Pro has been a really important undertaking for the company as we rebranded our entire offering to bring customers closer to the platform itself. I joined Preqin as a Senior Automation QA to implement functional automation. It was tricky at first as I had to meet business expectations, manage a cross-regional team, and write code from scratch for our first ever automation framework. The challenge was worth it though as I managed to deliver a highly successful and issue-free project in a very limited timeframe!
I am extremely proud of the quality of the software we deliver on every single release, and that pride extends to our talented teams. They work so hard to ensure that we meet the highest standards of quality and user experience.
What factors made you want to pursue a career in STEM?
My background is unusual for someone in STEM. I have a bachelor’s degree in Communication from Beijing Jiaotong University in China, and a master’s degree in Behavioral Socioeconomics from Ewha Women University in South Korea. Before I joined Preqin last April, I was finishing my PhD in Science Communication from the Australian National University.
Coming from an academic background, I never thought about pursuing a career in STEM. That all changed when I found out about Preqin’s new feature called ’LP Suggestions’. It uses modelling to generate a ranked list of LPs to make it quicker and easier for our GP clients to identify the promising LPs for networking and fundraising. It was part of a collaboration between University of Essex and Preqin, called Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP). The project offered me a fantastic and unique opportunity to apply network analysis in business.
Do you have any advice for someone considering a similar career path?
It has definitely been challenging to work as a Data Scientist without a STEM background – especially as the only woman in my team – but I have received a lot of help from my colleagues. I don’t know where I would be without support from my university and Preqin colleagues, working closely with me on the KTP project, and helping me enhance my professional skills and productivity.
For those who considering pursuing a similar path as me, I would suggest that, instead of regarding the gender gap in data science as a limitation or an obstacle for women, we should embrace it as an opportunity. Women can offer alternative perspectives and insights, especially when it comes to complicated business cases. The field will benefit from diversity.