Oana Tararache is the Data Team Tech Lead at Namely. She received her Master in Computer Science from Columbia University and is a mother to three young boys (including twins).
Hi Oana, thanks for joining us! Can you tell us a bit about your background and how it lead you to get into a career in data?
I come from a family of software engineers. Growing up hearing engineer-talk at the dinner table and seeing boxes of computer punch cards around the house, it wasn’t surprising that both my brother and I followed the same career path. I have been a software engineer for 16 years now.
My first job involved working with data (before it was cool), but as I moved along in my career I spent some time in application development. I joined Namely in October 2016, and I was assigned to the Data team for a project, thinking it would be temporary. In the end, this role felt like coming home, and now over a year later I am still deep in the data world and loving it.
What has been the biggest surprise in your career?
I can’t count the number of times I have been the only woman in a room full of engineers, but it still takes me by surprise sometimes. I am lucky enough that our current team is very diverse, and half of the engineers are women. But in my experience that typically hasn’t been the case.
Do you think that data can help increase diversity in tech?
Data has no prejudice. Companies can analyze the data to uncover inequalities or areas that lack in diversity, and work to correct them. Namely strives for that internally, and some of the most important work I do is to build software that helps HR professionals dig into their own workforce data.
“Imposter syndrome is a real thing, and it’s especially prevalent in women in technology... But whatever you do, fight it.”
What do you find are some of the biggest challenges in leading today?
One of the things I often struggle with is accepting that I will make mistakes sometimes. Even with all my best intentions, I will make bad decisions or give bad advice. Our company mission is accepting that we’re all human, and my team always gives me the opportunity recognize my mistakes and learn from them.
What advice would you give to someone who is starting out in their career?
Stay true to yourself and your values. Remember that you don’t need to act a certain part in order or fit into a preconceived mold to be successful. Spend time discovering and identifying your strengths and build on them.
What advice would you give to other women who are interested in pursuing a similar career path to yours?
In a field where you are the minority, it can be really challenging to recognize your value and take credit for your work. Imposter syndrome is a real thing, and it’s especially prevalent in women in technology. But whatever you do, fight it. Whether that means finding a mentor that can guide you when you’re feeling overwhelmed, or simply surrounding yourself with people that appreciate you, make sure you don’t let the fear of inadequacy win. Then, pay it forward and help someone else.
Do you think data can help support this foundation?
A successful career is based on accountability, and data is your best friend when it comes to planning or measuring the success of a project. Ask thoughtful questions, and the data will help you make well informed decisions. Data-driven thinking increases credibility and trust within a team.