Not every successful woman in technology starts on a technical path, writes Stephanie Griffiths, Field Chief Data Officer, Dataiku. I never focused on a career in technology when I was young. Instead, I wanted to work in public policies and diplomacy.

As the development of the internet was making tech more mainstream and impacting more and more public policies, I became more interested in this topic. It led me to meet the founder of a website studio, later acquired by a big French advertising group,  and I started by creating internet sites for LVMH brands. Step by step, I took on more and more roles focused on digital transformation before becoming more specialised in AI.

In parallel, noticing the growing need for tech talents and the lack of girls in this sector, I volunteered at AppsforGood & the London Design Museum Ventura Program

Learning by doing is vital for me; that’s what tech is about, rather than learning things by heart. The following three key learnings have helped me to have an exciting, fulfilling career in tech.

Firstly, take a human-centric approach to technology

I encourage girls to identify problems they want to solve and ask themselves how tech can help to be part of the solution. Technology must be completely aligned with reality, starting with analysing real problems. This doesn’t have to mean sitting through several years of academia before you can get down to application.

Many tech education programs are now project-based (ecole 42 for instance), and it is very encouraging to see so many incubators within universities (check ) or schools working closely with corporations (Isdi in Madrid &  Albert School in Paris) 

Second, focus on the value you want to create

What do you want to achieve in life?  Are you interested in generating more economic value, creating jobs, and scaling products or services? Or do you thrive by creating more people-led value through upskilling programs, improving safety in the workplace, and developing well-being initiatives? Or would you want to focus on regenerative value from reducing impact (decreasing the C02 footprint) to repairing damages caused by past and present business activities? 

Value is multi-dimensional! We are moving away from pure short-term value. So, thinking about how tech can be used more creatively to achieve the value that matters to you the most will be key to a fulfilling career.

Finally, ask yourself BIG questions about tech

Joy Buolamwini was a computer science student at the MIT Media Lab when she created installations based on computer vision systems that track faces. There she observed that the system had difficulty tracking her face … until she used a white mask! 

Her story helps us remember that we need to anticipate, track, and debate risks associated with tech. The reproduction of bias, the definition of fairness, and the need for transparent algorithms and ethics will push you to raise uncomfortable questions and look for collaboration with various experts. Tech and philosophy are two facets of the same coin, and to progress, we need to keep evaluating the consequences of our acts. It will make you very valuable to any team if you can anticipate issues before they become problems. 

To succeed, embrace your uniqueness!

It’s important for the world that girls continue to pursue technology careers and equally, it’s important for everyone, across the board because we need the best possible diversity of perspective we can achieve.  

Data science is a highly collaborative field where we need all different kinds of knowledge – business, code, stats….. Don’t believe that you don’t belong simply because you do not yet have tech experience. Everyone needs to have a voice regarding AI – there is not just one lens. Technology will only work universally if we all play a part in technology. Mira Murati (CTO at Open AI) who leads the teams behind ChatGPT and DALL-E keeps on reminding everyone that to “make sure the model is in service of humanity…it is important that we bring in different voices, like, philosophers, social scientist, artists and people from the humanities.”

About the author: Stephanie Griffiths, Chief Field Data Officer, Dataiku

Prior to her role at Dataiku, Stephanie was CMO for Ffyn, a fintech in Asset Management, created a prototyping studio and held various Sales & Strategic positions within WPP agencies, in Telecommunications and Finance.

Her entrepreneurial experiences led her to be a business mentor for APX in Berlin, a JV between Axel Springer and Porsche focused on early-stage investment in innovative startups. She was a Board Member at the French Tech Berlin, for Visit Britain and an international trade advisor for the French Government in Berlin. Her passion for education and tech led her to be a visiting lecturer at ESADE, ISEG and coach kids at AppsforGood.