Shibani with Alexandra | 8/05/2019

We caught up with Shibani, our amazing volunteer who opened a new chapter in Los Angeles after moving there from across the Pacific Ocean. Here, she gives the inside scoop on the chapter’s origin and the wonderful team behind it.


I’m pretty sure you’ll agree with me when I say: The gender imbalance in the tech world is REAL.

The She Loves Data movement continues to make strides worldwide. We’re excited to start the US chapter in Los Angeles, California. Unlike our tech savvy counterparts a few hundred miles away in the Silicon Valley, there are still quite a lot of women here who are new to the world of data and tech. But they are very interested in learning more!

How did you first get involved with She Loves Data?

On my first day in the corporate world working as a BI consultant, I quickly learnt I was the only girl on the dev team.  Fast forward four years later, that hasn’t changed a lot.

I was introduced to She Loves Data in 2017. My professor invited me to be a mentor for a workshop in Melbourne. The following quarter when he couldn’t make it, I was asked to present the data viz session to a group of 70 women. I was incredibly nervous as I hadn’t spoken to such a large audience before. But the atmosphere at the workshop was amazing. The women were eager to help each other out, connect and ensure they’re staying relevant in a rapidly changing world.

What was the inspiration behind starting a chapter in Los Angeles? Any shout-out to the folks at UCLA?

I decided to move to LA to further my technical skills (currently working on my AWS certification). I signed up for a certificate program at UCLA Extension and won a scholarship. The recipients had a scholarship dinner where I “networked” with the right people. That’s when the doors opened. I was introduced to some of the most amazing tech and business professionals at UCLA and all over Los Angeles who loved She Loves Data’s vision (who doesn’t?). We wanted to organise an Intro to Data Analytics workshop and UCLA Extension offered to host it – and that’s how things got rolling.

One of the awesome people I was introduced to is Raffi Simonian. He not only shared our vision but also volunteered to be an instructor and has played a key part in this workshop. Raffi is the kind of person you want on your team. With an exceptional background of over 25 years in business and technology, Raffi is the bridge that connects core technologies to the human side of IT. One would think having such a stellar background would make him an intimidating person, but I was pleasantly surprised.  He turned out to be the most approachable person who goes out of his way to mentor upcoming talent.

Tell us a bit about you and the team.

We have a fun team of instructors and volunteers who are passionate about tech and strong advocates of the “human” side of tech. Apart from Raffi and myself, we have Daraiha Greene and Dr. Vandana Mangal coming in as speakers for the day.

Daraiha is the Global Head of Strategic Partnerships at Google; she also leads the Digital Coaches Program as well as multicultural engagement for the Computer Science in Media Initiative. Outside of Google, she is an actress, dancer, keynote speaker, and the founder of Rays of Sunlight, a nonprofit organization focused on improving the quality of life for teens through mindfulness and creative expression

Dr. Vandana (Ana) Mangal specializes in the education of technology and data across all sectors, for those with or without tech backgrounds. She is currently working in data and AI, and studying disruption in the mobility sector.  She has served on the board of the UCLA IS Associates, UCLA Extension TMP and the Women’s Initiative Network (WIN).  Before UCLA, Dr. Mangal worked in big tech (Intel Corp) and consulting (AE Business Solutions).  She has taught at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

Since January, we’ve been to a fair number of fairs/conferences/workshops to introduce LA to She Loves Data. The reception has been incredible. It’s great to see this movement of empowering women spread across the globe! UCLA and Extension have been very encouraging and they do all they can to support women. A huge shout out to all the people who have helped along the way in the short 5 months since we started. And we’re just starting… Stay tuned for future workshop details as we’re working on workshop 2 already!

I’m interested! Where can I sign up for the workshop(s)?

Check out the event page here for our 18 May Intro to Data Analytics workshop and sign up for our newsletter at the bottom of the page to get future workshop updates!

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