Beena Ammanath, VP, Data Science at GE, has been recognized as one of the Top 50 analytic innovators in the country and has been honored for her dedication to supporting diversity in tech. In addition, she was recently listed among women who are analytics experts in a Forbes article that profiles 8 women. Beena says that working in a male-dominated industry is tough, but she’s learned to speak up and feel confident that she deserves a seat at the table. Her #1 career tip? “Don't let the situations around you slow you down from succeeding.”
Fairygodboss of the Week: Beena Ammanath
Vice President, Data Science, GE
San Francisco, CA
FGB: Tell us about your career. How did you get to where you are now?
BA: I started my career in technology after completing my Masters in Computer Science. Throughout my career, I have always been in technology-focused roles and have been lucky to work in an area, within computer science, that is my strength – data.
I have worn multiple hats as I have progressed in my career and have worked at startups, midsize companies and large corporations; spanning across multiple vectors from telecom, financial services, retail banking, ecommerce, industrial, IoT and marketing. I have worked at known organizations like British Telecom, e*trade, Thomson Reuters, and Bank of America, but also at Silicon Valley dotcom startups, in engineering and management positions.
In my current role at GE, it’s all about looking at data in different ways to drive positive outcomes for GE and our customers. I lead a global team of data scientists, big data engineers, and product managers, and we focus on productizing data science. I am in a role where I can truly make a difference by making machines smarter, which impacts all our daily lives.
It’s not a career path that I could have ever planned for when I started out, but at every stage and in every role, I have learned and evolved, and that has helped me prepare for my next role.
FGB: What is an accomplishment that you are proud of?
BA: I won two awards in 2016, which I am proud of.
I won the Analytics 50 award as recognition for being one of the Top 50 analytic innovators in the country. I also won the 2016 Women Super Achiever Award from World Women Leadership Congress, for my dedication to supporting diversity in tech, being a role model to several young women in tech and driving innovative digital transformation in the technology world. I am humbled by this recognition.
FGB: What is a challenge that you've faced and overcome?
BA: I rarely look at any situation as a challenge but more as a learning opportunity. And there have been so many of those.
An ongoing one has been working in a male-dominated tech industry. The more I grow in my career, the harder that challenge gets, unfortunately. Being the only woman at the table is intimidating, and I had to look deep within myself to find my voice, the courage to believe in myself, ignoring all the external signals raising doubts about my capabilities while getting my job done successfully.
However, with experience, my confidence grew, and today I don’t let external situations impact my morale or instill self-doubt. I speak up, fully aware that I deserve a seat at the table. I know that I bring tremendous value -- a unique perspective that would have been missing for the organization. The negative thoughts still pop up every once in a while, but I now know how to overcome them.
FGB: Who is YOUR Fairygodboss? and Why?
BA: I have several Fairygodbosses. I call them my personal Board of Directors. These are a group of women that I have met over the years whom I can turn to for advice at any time. They believe in me much more than I do. And have helped me succeed in ways that I could never have done by myself.
FGB: What do you do when you’re not working?
BA: I am an avid baseball fan. On any given weekend, you will find me at a baseball field cheering my little leaguers. I also enjoy writing on topics related to women in technology, business, IoT and artificial intelligence.
FGB: If you could have dinner with one famous person - dead or alive - who would it be?
BA: Mahatma Gandhi
FGB: What is your karaoke song?
BA: Roar by Katy Perry
FGB: What is your favorite movie?
BA: Forrest Gump. I never get tired of watching how Forrest overcomes every adversity in his life.
FGB: What book would you bring with you on a desert island?
BA: The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch. This book is a powerful reminder on how to live a happy, full life no matter what life throws at you.
FGB: What is your shopping vice? What would you buy if you won the lottery?
BA: Kitchen gadgets. I love cooking and I am always enticed by cool cooking gadgets. Lotto money would go into a world tour focused on having a meal at the best restaurant in every country across the globe.
FGB: What is the #1 career tip you'd like to share with other women who want to have successful careers like you?
BA: Believe in yourself. Don't let the situations around you slow you down from succeeding.
Fairygodboss is all about women helping other women. So each week, we celebrate a woman who makes a difference in other women’s careers. Is there a woman who has made a difference in your career? Celebrate and thank her by nominating her here.