OWL TechFest returns virtually, shows why Oracle is a great place to work
Oracle hosted a successful virtual Oracle Women's Leadership TechFest 2021, thanks to the sponsorship of Oracle Women's Leadership (OWL) and support from product development executives, human resources, and the Redwood Shores, California and New England OWLTech communities. More than 400 internal and external participants enjoyed an evening of informative technology demos, inspiring keynotes, panel discussions featuring Oracle women leaders, and interactive mentoring sessions designed to help participants achieve their career goals.
The evening opened with six demo sessions for attendees to experience as they joined the conference.
Oracle Analytics - Building Interactive Machine Learning Models: Wendy Dyar, Bret Grinslade, and Rutuja Joshi demonstrated how to create a machine learning model for scoring wine quality using Oracle Analytics. Rutuja discussed picking different algorithms and reviewing the confusion matrix data set. Wendy showed how to apply this scoring to new data in a beautiful presentation project, including interactive maps and natural language generation.
Oracle Cloud Infrastructure: Sudha Raghavan gave a sneak peek of what it takes to build Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI), one of the world's largest infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) platforms. She also demonstrated the OCI logging service.
Oracle Digital Assistant for Expenses (ERP): Shruti Banda and her colleague Heather Sieberg discussed digital assistants in the workplace and specifically the Oracle Digital Assistant for Expenses, which was built and delivered as part of a larger initiative focused on self-service for finance users within the Oracle ERP product organization. Research shows that 70% of white-collar workers will interact with digital assistants on a daily basis. Oracle designed and built the digital assistant to allow users access to multiple applications, including Oracle’s, through a single, conversational interface. With advances in natural language processing and image recognition, Oracle will continue to build additional skills for the digital assistant that will improve productivity and efficiency among finance users.
Oracle Education Foundation—Application Development Showcase: Ashley Sullivan (Senior Program Manager, Oracle Education Foundation) guided interactive sessions that showcased apps and game designs from high school students who have participated in Oracle Education Foundation classes. Students showed two different applications that exhibited their design thinking skills: one group used game design to develop the Covid4Kids video game for teaching kids about COVID-19, and the other group used neural nets to develop their waste sorting app.
Oracle Food and Beverage Solutions: Oana Busuioceanu and Jennifer Dorta-Duque showed how Oracle Food and Beverage solutions address the need for contactless food and beverage purchases that have become the norm during the pandemic. These features help customers adjust to post-pandemic requirements. The biggest point of sale (POS) platform in the world, their technology is used by hotels, restaurants, college campuses, ball parks, and stores. To help adapt to COVID-19, it is now being extended to off-premises purchases, such as through Uber Eats, and micro locations, such as curbside pick-up.
As a member of the OWL TechFest planning committee, I had the amazing opportunity to partner with Oracle leaders in organizing three mentor tracks for internal and external participants to engage with powerful women around their professional experiences. I also attended CIO Jae Evans's keynote, where she reminded us that, ‘Change is constant, embrace it and execute on it.’ I'm grateful for the chance to be surrounded by and learn from authentic, resilient leaders.
Customer Success Strategic Program Manager and one of the 38 event volunteers
Keynote and Tech Career Panel
OWL TechFest attendees convened in the main session to learn about Oracle technology as well as career insights from an inspiring panel of women in tech. Leor Chechik, event coordinator and host, introduced Oracle speakers for the main keynote session and tech career panel.
Keynote: Oracle CIO Jae Evans shared what it’s like to be leading technology at Oracle.
Oracle CIO Jae Evans gave an inspiring keynote, emphasizing how Oracle’s technology infrastructure and IT improvements help our customers and our employees. In her keynote on Oracle technology, Jae shared that she is responsible for accelerating Oracle's cloud transformation and improving employee productivity and user experience. For example, we’re on a massive, accelerated journey to bring our workload onto Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI), which will improve our efficiency and the time it will take to enable future improvements. Her group works toward greater automation, optimization, and right-sizing for users’ needs. For global regions and data centers, they focus on improving efficiency to enable scaling.
Jae recalled that when she was ready to embrace new opportunities while at her previous job, she created a list of qualities she wanted in her next position. When she looked at a position at Oracle, it ticked every box. She is excited about OCI and its success, and she appreciated how Oracle and the OCI organization share her values of customer and performance focus, taking pride in one’s work, and embracing change. At the beginning of her career, she reflected that she was often the only woman in the room, so she is also very proud of how committed Oracle is to diversity and inclusion. She appreciates the company’s employee resource groups (ERGs) and all the leadership resources available at Oracle. Her advice was to partake in networking events, be an advocate for your peer group, be a mentor or mentee, get constructive feedback and act on it, and "pay it forward" to help others.
Tech Career Panel: Oracle women in tech provided valuable career tips and advice.
Shaida Hiekali moderated an inspiring panel of Oracle technical women who shared their career insights. Panelists talked about how they transitioned into Oracle, discussed how the company and their work has changed as a result of the pandemic, and shared their top change-agility tips.
Kalyn Chang started as an intern with Oracle, rejoining for her first job out of college. She found it easier to adapt by networking with other interns. When starting a job, she learned not to compare herself with others and found that change agility is learnable. She appreciates that Oracle has been flexible during the pandemic. She recommended building and maintaining a strong network, and to not be afraid to ask questions.
Kay Malcolm learned to deal with change by reprogramming her mind and growing her skills. At first, when starting out in her career as a sales engineer, she felt like she had imposter syndrome. But she worked hard, devoured all the content she could get her hands on around her products, got certified, and changed the narrative using her unique talents and ideas to spur innovation. During the pandemic, she developed LiveLabs (Oracle LiveLabs) to change the way sales and marketing went to market digitally with customers. Her career advice was be kind to yourself and invest in self-care. Instead of a "me" mentality, have a service mentality.
Rama Pyarasani transitioned to Oracle after working in a startup. Her strategy was to network, leverage the knowledge of others so she didn’t have to reinvent the wheel, and use the Oracle cloud to her advantage by adopting it in her work. During the pandemic, she decided to devote the time that she previously used on her commute time to engage more with OWL and to start the OWLTech New England group. She advised thinking big, starting small, and learning fast. "Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much. So let’s keep learning together and support each other."
Priya Sarkar started at Oracle right out of college after moving to a new city. At first it was challenging, but in time she realized that everyone comes to the company with their own valuable contributions. She emphasized the value of communication, patience, and striving for work-life balance. She recommended taking the time to step back, see the positive, and take pleasure in the small things.
Interactive Mentoring Sessions
Following the keynote, attendees visited interactive mentoring sessions tailored to their career levels. Oracle leaders and developers across a diverse array of fields, backgrounds, and lines of business shared their insights with participants. Each session included short, focused conversations in breakout rooms. This gave participants the opportunity to learn, receive coaching, broaden their networks, and further their career development. Representatives from Advantage YOU and Oracle Recruiting also answered attendees’ questions about careers at Oracle.
Students and College Hires learned tips for acing tech interviews and setting priorities for their first jobs out of college. Several attendees were looking forward to joining Oracle and asked about recommendations to prepare for their job. Mentors shared that you’ll have lots of resources for getting started, and will pair up with a buddy to help you adjust to your new role.
Domenica Mata Rodriguez
Early/Mid Career participants learned more about strategies for approaching critical decision or pivot points in one’s tech career. For example, in one of the breakout room discussions, Renu Chintalapati answered a question on which she preferred, working at a startup or a large company. Renu said that at Oracle, she feels like she is working at a well-funded startup that allowed her to grow and build a network. She also shared that it’s never too late to start something new. Think about what you enjoy doing and try out different things. As you grow, you will change. Learn every day, follow your passion, and make your job your own. Be your own advocate.
Senior Career participants discussed ideas for giving back to the next generation of women in tech through becoming a role model, sponsor, or mentor. Breakout room leaders shared their group discussions.
Yvette Cameron: Research shows that women and men in mentoring situations act differently: men tend to engage frequently on any number of areas, while women tend to hold back and not want to “bother” their mentors with discussions on things other than the most critical decisions. Ensure that you encourage your female mentees to engage frequently and on all areas of consideration, building that trusted exchange of support and ideation on the many different aspects involved in moving their careers forward.
Vineeta Saxena: When wondering what to do next, whether to stay the same or change, it’s important to do what keeps you engaged and interested. Sometimes this can be a tough conversation, and you’ll need to set goals to achieve what you want.
Carolina Florez Stutz, Manisha Gupta: Our group discussed mentorship and sponsorship. Mentorship is a two-way street: it’s okay to have questions, you don’t have to have all the answers. A sponsor is someone who lifts you through actions, and it’s an everyday thing that we can do for each other, especially for women in tech. Extroverts can help introverts in their circle by speaking up and amplifying their ideas.
Carolina Florez Stutz
I attended a portion of the TechFest2021 and enjoyed the authenticity of it!
Senior Vice President, Oracle Hardware Development
Shruti Banda is a project leader at Oracle with the ERP Financials group. She is a technophile with a computer science and management background. She currently works on building digital assistants for enterprise applications such as the Oracle expense assistant and also designing the search experience for ERP. Shruti holds an MS from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and an MBA from the Indian Institute of Management Calcutta. She loves to read, learn Russian, and travel the world in her free time.
Oana Busuioceanu is a solution engineering manager in Oracle Food and Beverage (F&B), heading up a team of solution engineers in EMEA. She joined MICROS and then Oracle when it acquired the company. Oana has almost 20 years of experience in the F&B market and technology.
Oana has progressed through different roles and lines of business from field engineer to being a product specialist and software developer to manager on the solution engineering team. Although a true geek at heart, she enjoys meeting customers, understanding their needs, and then finding the right solution to help them drive their business forward.
Yvette Cameron is senior vice president for Oracle Cloud Human Capital Management product strategy. She’s also cofounder and Board advisory member of Velocity Career Labs, the technology organization behind the Velocity Network Foundation (VNF), an industry consortium delivering the blockchain-powered “Internet of Careers” for self-sovereign digital identity.
Prior to her current work, Yvette served as founder and principal analyst at NextGen Insights, LLC; senior vice president of global strategy at SAP SuccessFactors; general manager and vice president at Saba Learning and Performance; vice president of product at Oracle; HCM industry analyst at Gartner; and vice president and principal analyst at Constellation Research. Yvette speaks internationally on innovations in HCM processes and technology and the future of work. She holds a BA in mathematics and applied statistics from California State University.
Kalyn Chang is a product manager in the ERP Financials Cloud expenses team, which builds features to streamline and automate digital expense management. Kalyn is currently working on building intelligent expense management capabilities using machine learning. She joined Oracle as a software engineer and transitioned to a product manager role last year. She also interned at Oracle prior to joining full time. Kalyn holds a BS in computer science from Caltech.
After 15 years in software development roles at Oracle, Leor Chechik now builds technical initiatives with a focus on diversity in her current role as director of technical programs at Oracle.
Leor has worked on diverse teams and projects at Oracle, including full-stack development of server technologies and cloud applications, and front-end UI development. As the leader for the Oracle Women’s Leadership Tech Community, she organizes a wide range of events with a focus on women in technology, including career panels, and lean-in circles. Leor earned her MS in computer science at Stanford University and her BS in computer science at the University of Glasgow in the UK.
Renu Chintalapati leads Oracle’s analytic applications team, which develops a comprehensive suite of content across ERP, HR, supply chain, and customer experience. The mission is simple: help our customers run their businesses more efficiently with actionable insights into data. Prior to Oracle, Renu led the applications engineering team for Numerify, which was acquired by digital.ai. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family, going on hikes, and gardening.
Katty Coulson is vice president of product IT at Oracle NetSuite. Before joining Oracle, Katty was regional CIO for the Americas at Cisco Systems, responsible for driving a regional strategy enabling business and IT alignment to increase growth opportunities and productivity.
Katty has a special interest in promoting STEM education and women in leadership and technology. She has been named to a number of awards lists, including the HITEC 100 in 2020 and the HITEC Top 50 Influential Hispanic Leaders in Latin America/Ibero-America in 2017 and 2018.
Katty lives in San Jose, California with her husband and three children. She’s a marathoner, swimmer, and tennis player, and practices Taekwondo. She enjoys giving-back activities, traveling, and spending time with her family.
Jennifer Dorta-Duque is the senior director of customer success for Oracle Food and Beverage (F&B). She leads a team of customer success professionals who are responsible for establishing and building customer relationships. Her team helps to ensure customers are satisfied with Oracle products and services, provides high-level technical support, and works to resolve any customer dissatisfaction.
Jennifer has been in the technology industry for more than 20 years. She started out as a product manager in R&D, bringing industry knowledge to developers in order to help them understand real-life operations and use cases. She was part of a team that developed, marketed, and implemented the most-deployed POS system in the world for F&B operations.
Jennifer attained the position of director of R&D. After many years of product strategy she wanted to explore some personal goals, buying a lodging business with her husband in Vermont. She decided to take a position in the sales organization as an executive account manager that would allow her to work from home, expand her skill set, and still stay connected to the industry she loved.
Jae Evans is chief information officer at Oracle. She’s responsible for accelerating Oracle's cloud transformation and improving employee productivity and user experience, anytime and anywhere. Jae also has responsibility for enhancing Oracle Cloud Infrastructure’s developer productivity and infrastructure services for deployments, builds, and ongoing operations and management of Oracle’s global cloud regions.
Prior to joining Oracle in 2020, Jae was senior vice president of global infrastructure engineering and operations at Walmart Labs. Her responsibilities included running the full lifecycle of the private cloud, hybrid cloud, network, and connectivity for internal- and external-facing production workloads. Jae has more than 20 years of experience building and leading global teams and managing mission-critical production services across various industries including telecommunications, online gaming, retail, ecommerce, and enterprise cloud.
Jae is passionate about bringing diversity and inclusion (D&I) into the workplace. She is the executive sponsor of D&I for Oracle Cloud Infrastructure, and was previously the executive sponsor for the African American Business Resource Group, an active participant in various Pan-Asian–American D&I events, and executive champion for Women in Tech, where she spearheaded the She Rocks Tech mentorship programs.
Elham Ghassemzadeh is the vice president of product management for the SuiteCloud Platform at Oracle NetSuite. She has deep knowledge of SaaS and PaaS products, and currently leads a global team responsible for NetSuite platform vision and strategy. Elham has more than 20 years of software leadership experience.
Prior to joining Oracle NetSuite, Elham held various positions in software development, professional services management, and with a research group at Stanford University. She holds a master’s degree in management and computer science from the University of Aberdeen, Scotland.
Bret Grinslade is an Oracle Analytics product manager focused on how to empower people with data to make better decisions and to unlock possibilities. Bret has a background in data analytics platforms across Oracle, Oracle Cloud Infrastructure, Microsoft, and Amazon technology stacks.
Shaida Hiekali heads the OWL program in the US, Latin America, and Canada, overseeing the more than 45 Oracle Women’s Leadership communities in the Americas. Shaida supports 150 community leaders, and works with business leaders and internal and external partners on key strategic projects and development experiences. She hosted the first-ever America’s Emerging Leader summit in Austin, Texas in 2019 and is passionate about bringing women together to engage, develop, and empower them through a focus on professional development and personal growth. Beyond her role in OWL, Shaida has experience in sales, business development, management, the nonprofit space, human resources, and talent and development. She is an avid technology and startup follower and a lover of different cultures, languages, and cuisines. Shaida currently resides in California.
Megha Kaul is a senior technical program manager with the Oracle Compliance and Assurance team, with more than 10 years of experience working in the IT industry. In her current role she leads programs for adding new products and services to OCI’s compliance scope with the focus on assessing the requirements gaps and remediation plans. In her spare time, Megha likes to read, travel, and spend time with her five-year-old daughter.
Kay Malcolm leads a team of database product managers who develop key initiatives, infrastructure, and programs. They enable our customers, sales consultants, and implementers to work smarter, not harder, and get direct access to Oracle Database technology in combination with our other platform solutions. Last year, Kay defined and created a hands-on workshop platform, Oracle LiveLabs, after identifying a need in the Oracle ecosystem. To build the platform, she used existing technologies such as Oracle Application Express, Oracle Database, and Oracle Cloud.
Kay has been with Oracle for nearly 14 years, starting her career as a sales consultant specializing in Oracle Real Application Clusters and Exadata. Kay is also an active diversity ambassador for Oracle and a mentor for a number of people. Her passion is increasing the impact and visibility of women in technology and STEM careers. Kay has a BS in electrical engineering from the University of Maryland. She is married with two teenage boys. Her hobbies are dance—she’s a certified hip-hop instructor—and crafting.
Sweta Panda is a research scientist in the Machine Learning Research Group. Her research interests span fairness-aware machine learning, algorithms for social good, stochastic planning, and computational game theory. Currently, Sweta is focused on algorithmic fairness and applications in the hiring domain. She is also investigating problems on bias in NLP prediction models. Sweta joined Oracle Labs in 2018.
Sweta has a PhD in computer science from Vanderbilt University, where she was advised by Yevgeniy Vorobeychik. She graduated with a B.Tech. in electrical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur.
Rama Pyarasani is a principal engineer in Oracle hardware development. She earned a BS in electrical engineering and an MS in physics from BITS in Pilani, India.
Rama has 15 years of experience in software architecture, implementation, analytics, and quality assurance of enterprise solutions. She is an evangelist of new technologies and promotes adoption of data analytics and machine learning tools.
Rama cofounded the Oracle Women’s Leadership Technology community in New England and leads the fast-growing community. She organizes tech talks, hands-on workshops, hackathons, and tech panel discussions that have catered to 1,500 attendees to date.
Sudha has been at Oracle for the last four years leading the observability services organization for Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI). Her teams manage the OCI Logging, OCI Monitoring, and OCI Developer Analytics services. She loves the challenges of running two of the largest-scale services across OCI. Sudha is a founding committee member of the Seattle chapter of OWL and is involved in many mentoring activities. Before Oracle she worked in a variety of roles at Microsoft for 14 years. Sudha is married and has two young boys. She loves to play board games and enjoys a variety of outdoor activities.
Domenica Mata Rodriguez is a senior software engineer with the Cloud Service Integration team, which improves and converts popular open source software into cloud native solutions. Domenica graduated from the University of Washington in Seattle in 2017 with a degree in informatics. Outside of work she likes to play soccer, bike, and swim.
Priya Sarkar is a software developer working on virtual networking for Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI), specializing in OCI's gateways and network functions. Priya joined Oracle directly after graduating from Duke University in 2018. She helped cofound the Oracle Women’s Leadership Tech New England community. In her free time (and when there’s not a pandemic), Priya likes to run along the Charles River, explore every restaurant she can find, and attend music festivals and concerts all over the world with her friends. She is based in Boston, Massachusetts.
Vineeta Saxena is vice president of engineering on the Oracle Analytics Cloud team and heads the design, development, and operations of the Analytics control plane, a native service in Oracle Cloud Infrastructure. Vineeta leads a global and diverse team spread across seven countries. With more than 25 years of experience in technology, she has been part of various business intelligence and cloud services product teams.
Vineeta moved to the California Bay Area to work for Brio Technologies two decades ago, moving from individual contributor positions to the management track with a keen commitment to engineering excellence, execution, customer focus, and collaboration. She is a proud working mom of two grown-up boys and a first-generation immigrant from Jamshedpur, India. She completed her BE in computer science from BIT Mesra.
Anu Singhvi is an award-winning business development and strategy leader. She currently leads go-to-market strategy globally for Oracle’s analytics business. After Oracle recruited her in 2017, Anu achieved triple-digit cloud business growth three years in a row using a data-driven strategy. She started her career as an R&D scientist at Texas Instruments, inventing several patent-earning products, and went on to lead a $500M business unit.
Prior to Oracle, Anu was the executive vice president for business development for a healthcare firm, using her unique background in pathology and engineering. After placing among the top chefs in India on a cooking show on national television, she launched a startup selling organic foods from around the globe, and still serves as its CMO. Anu was recently one of just 21 women sponsored by Oracle global leadership to participate in Linkage’s Women in Leadership Institute, where she won the grand prize with the maximum points in leadership activities over the four-day conference.
Anu is an electrical engineer with a dual major master’s degree in electrical and computer engineering from the University of Arizona, Tucson.
Ashley Sullivan is a senior program manager for the Oracle Education Foundation, a nonprofit organization funded by Oracle and staffed by Oracle employees. Our mission is to help young people develop the technical acumen, creative confidence, empathy, and grit to become outstanding designers of solutions to people’s needs and the world’s problems.
We offer classes at the intersection of STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) and design thinking. In these instructor-led classes, Oracle Volunteers coach small groups of students through design challenges that push them to leverage empathy to understand an issue from a different point of view. Students then create prototypes for the user that address the issue and iterate on designs.
Catherine You brings more than 20 years of experience working with global customers on digital transformations that span ERP, CX, and SCM. Catherine joined Oracle ERP in 2020 to lead product strategy. Her current focus is helping finance and technology executives envision the future of finance, leveraging cloud process automation, machine learning, digital assistants, and emerging innovations. Before Oracle ERP, Catherine led the CX product management team to transform sales and service experiences for digital sellers and customer support managers. She came to Oracle via its acquisition of Siebel, where she led the customer data management solution.
Catherine started her career at Accenture as a technical architect specialized in ERP, BI, MDM, and CRM enterprise integrations for various industries. She also founded her own biotech company researching and developing immunotherapy as an alternative cancer treatment. She is passionate about STEM education to build our future technology leaders. Catherine holds a BS in biomedical engineering from the University of California at San Diego. She also completed the General Management Program from Harvard Business School.
Flore Yuan is an engineering manager working on Oracle Cloud Infrastructure. She currently is responsible for several public cloud services in the messaging space. Flore has more than 10 years of experience in the cloud industry and has gone through many different roles from tester and developer to director, and from Fortune 500 companies to early-stage startups. Born in China, raised in France, and now living in the US, Flore is passionate about advocating for diversity of all kinds in our industry. Flore holds master's degrees from CentraleSupélec in France and from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.