Ibotta's VP of Analytics and Data Products Talks with Code Talent
This week, I had the chance to sit down and talk with Denver tech leader, Bijal Shah. After getting lost in the many elevators of the massive building Ibotta's office is located in, I finally found my way to the open and inviting offices of Ibotta. With a pink wall to welcome you, an open floor plan, and a large dining area for eating or working, it's no wonder the company's office space is always talked about.
Once I got the chance to sit down with Bijal, I got increasingly excited about data and analytics—something my professors can tell you isn't exactly my strong point. Hopefully, her interview will get you extra excited, too. Continue reading to get the VP of Analytics and Data Products perspective on Denver, being a woman in tech, the shift towards big data, and more.
What are you currently doing in Denver?
I'm the VP of Analytics and Data Products at Ibotta. I lead a team of 20 individuals that work on analytics related to business strategy, decision science, and data science. My team uses the power of data and analytics to help Ibotta make better decisions, either in a productized format or in one-off analysis.
What's the best part about running your team?
Working with hungry, smart, talented individuals—and watching them grow. We have some really cool stories of people who started in different functional roles, and now sit on the data science team! It's really gratifying for me to watch people develop, take on more responsibility, and become managers and leaders at Ibotta.
What is your involvement in the Denver Tech Community?
I am part of the CTA's Women's Leader Coalition, which is a monthly meeting of other women tech leaders in Colorado. We get together and talk about topics related to increasing women in tech.
What made you want to be a part of the Women's Leader Coalition?
Ibotta is a super innovative company, so this allows me to bring our best practices to others. We have so many passionate people who are finding technologies and methodologies to help screen for things like gender bias and it's really important to share those methodologies—especially with larger companies who might have a more traditional, or set-way of doing things. They might not even know these tools exist.
Another benefit is hearing from others at the coalition. Many of the women are quite tenured in their careers, so hearing about their struggles, how they navigated the tech space, and what their career path entailed is helpful to learn from.
Ibotta also runs a Women in Tech Task Force, with the goal of increasing the percentage of women in technical positions within the company. Anyone who works in a technical role at Ibotta sits on this task force, currently we have 12 technical women and 2 Human Resources employees. We meet once a month to discuss ways we can increase the number of women in technical roles and create an inclusive environment at Ibotta.
We're always looking for creative ways to get women into more technical roles. The pipeline is slim, so we are looking for things we can do in the workforce now to help make those who are interested more technical. We have seen some recent success inside of the company in terms of increasing the number of women in technical roles; one great example involves a woman who was formerly an account manager at Ibotta who moved over to the analytics team. She was very self-motivated and driven, so it was easy for the company to support. She said, straight up, "I want to do this. Tell me what I need to learn," and then she went and learned it.
elds, what are some of the biggest obstacles you've faced?
I've been really lucky throughout my career to have worked with people who haven't necessarily viewed me as different. There are a few times when I personally feel a difference because there's a conversation that I can't necessarily relate to or participate in. But, again, I've been really lucky. I've had a lot of male mentors and managers, who've been some of my best advocates.
What advice do you have for other women in technical roles?
It's important to have an advocate—not just a mentor. You need someone to prop you up and believe in you and your capabilities. A mentor is someone who helps you with your skill set and gives you guidance, but an advocate says, "she's capable. We need to give her more responsibility."
That said, it's a two way street. It's hard for someone be your advocate if you don't go the extra mile, or if you always complain, or if you're not doing a good job. It's not solely the advocate's responsibility, you have to put yourself in a position that makes it easy for your advocate to advocate for you.
Continue reading on the Code Talent blog, here.