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Lessons for Building a Career in Data

By DTCC Connection Staff | 4 minute read | June 23, 2023

Snowflake, the Data Cloud company, recently hosted “Women in Data: Financial Services Edition,” which brought together leading women innovators across financial services with a passion for data science and data engineering, for a panel discussion on a wide range of career focused topics including tips on finding your passion, and the importance of mentorship.

DTCC Connection caught up with Darlene Newman, DTCC Executive Director of Internal Technology Research & Innovation, to hear more about her career in data and technology, as well as insights from the event.

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DC: What are you most excited about in the data space today? How has that evolved since you started your career in data?

DN: I have been in data for my entire career and have seen incredible advances in how data is used, accessed and analyzed. There is a saying that data is more valuable than oil, and I believe this to be true. The amount of data out there is growing exponentially, and its full value has yet to be realized. I am the most excited about large language models that are able to process data from multiple sources and provide answers quicker than ever. To be able to not only run analytics on data and get decision intelligence, but also make predictions, is pretty impressive. Artificial intelligence and decision intelligence can not only tell us what happened in the past but can also predict what might happen in the future.

DC: Reflecting on your career, what is one of the most important lessons in leadership you have learned?

DN: Two things come to mind: the building of relationships and understanding motivation. Being an innovator means I have to build strong relationships with all levels of the organization. For example, when it comes to pitching a new idea, be it a product or tool, it’s important to understand how it will benefit everyone in the room – that is their motivation. In order to accomplish something, especially as an innovator, you need help from others, which requires a strong network. By understanding the needs and motivation of others, your network and relationships will only grow stronger.

DC: As you think about the next generation, how are you involved with recruiting new, diverse talent?

DN: My team is very active in building the next generation of talent, especially as it relates to women in STEM. My team helps lead an academic program where we partner with several universities on different initiatives, such as an engineering capstone program at Duke, cybersecurity and resiliency curricula at New York University (NYU) and women in technology events at Northwestern. We are focused on recruiting top, diverse talent, helping to equip the next generation with the skills they need to be successful.

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DC: Do you have any advice on how to find a mentor, and how to be an effective mentor?

DN: When looking for a mentor, look for someone who is the epitome of what you want to be, either in leadership style or a specific role or job function. It is also important to look for a mentoring relationship that builds into an advocate. I work closely with my mentees. It's very important that I'm not just providing helpful tips and guidance, but that I'm actually hands-on. For example, if a mentee has to present to senior leadership, I will work with them at every step of the way - even by editing slides. Sometimes going to that level is what helps give them the extra confidence. By helping at every step, you (as the mentor) will understand how they work and think. This knowledge helps you become a champion for them.

DC: We always hear the importance of being extraordinary, what does extraordinary mean to you?

DN: I believe in giving my team the freedom to be creative, and the ability to try. They also have the safety of knowing if something is not successful, that is okay. In my opinion, for someone to be truly extraordinary, they have to have the resolve to do what they love and be who they are. As a leader, you need to be able to let them have freedom, while guiding and providing constructive feedback. Helping someone is important, but so is giving them a platform to experiment, and if something is unsuccessful, it’s a good learning experience.

DC: What is one thing you should do more of? One thing you should do less of?

DN: I should do less worrying about being perfect. I have learned over time that you should strive to be the best possible version of yourself and to do your best work, rather than trying to be perfect. We should also celebrate ourselves more. Over the past year, my team has been really good about celebrating all wins, even the little ones. We have a Teams channel that we use extensively. We are constantly posting and celebrating the things that we do – they could be small, or they could be big. I like giving my team that extra recognition for all of the great work that they do.

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Taking Innovation to New Heights
Darlene Newman

DTCC Executive Director, Head of Internal Technology Research and Innovation