Inspirational answers from Peggy Tsai, one of our STEM Careers for Women Ambassadors (Data Solutions career). Peggy lets us in on her life, inspirations and working as the Vice President for Data Solutions.
Introduction to a Data Solutions Career
I work at BigID where I serve as the trusted data advisor to our customers. In addition, I help build out the BigID product to serve the needs of the enterprise data management office.
Lastly, I represent BigID as a thought leader in the data industry. My background and experience in the financial services industry for the last 18 years have helped me understand the issues that many organizations are facing when building out a sustainable data governance program. I am excited to bridge my data background with the technology capabilities at BigID.
What is something about you people might not know?
During college, I was a two-time coed intramurals bowling champion! I also had a lucky bowling ball that I always borrowed which was blue, sparkly and engraved with the name ‘Helen.’
What are your hobbies?
Unfortunately, between full-time work and attending to my 8-year-old son’s hobbies, I don’t have many hobbies of my own! I used to have my food blog because I love going out to restaurants and trying out new different foods. I documented all my food adventures with pictures taken on my digital camera! Cooking and hosting dinner parties for my friends and family is however also something I enjoy a lot.
Our STEM Careers for Women Ambassadors
What did you want to be when you were growing up?
I didn’t have any specific aspirations when I was growing up. One of my first jobs was in database management. It then turned out that my father spent his career in the same field. I remembered that he worked in an Auditing department for a large bank. However, I never knew exactly what he did until we started talking about jobs after college. I used to think it was a coincidence that we ended up working in a similar field but now I see it as how much common we both have to gravitate towards data.
Who was your biggest influence growing up?… who were your role models?
I would say my parents were my biggest influencers when I was growing up. They certainly taught me the ethics of working hard and setting high goals. They also instilled in me the importance of having good writing and communication skills which have served me well in the data governance field.
In my career, the role models I had were senior-level women that I have worked for or that I have met at conferences that have given me inspiring advice. I still remember one piece of advice that I received from a peer of mine. At the time, she was moving out of the country and I would no longer be able to see her again.
She advised me to keep going and stay in the data field so that I can continue to be a role model for junior women on the team.
What were your favourite subjects at school?
I did not have a specific favourite subject in school but I always preferred English, social studies and history classes. I enjoyed the humanities-focused classes where I could read and write.
What were your least favourite subjects at school?
My least favourite subjects at school were Math and Science. I always had to work harder to get the same grades.
How did you come to choose your current career path or were you led to it?
I certainly never envisioned my current career path was possible back in college. I was pretty limited in understanding the variety of career paths that were available to me. As a kid, I thought my career choices were being an accountant, a lawyer, a doctor, or go into the business field. I chose the last option while hoping for the best.
My personal mottos have always been to be open to all opportunities and to be always learning. This has led me to a career path in data management which led to working in a variety of data governance programs in the financial services industry. I was always tried to stay ahead of the curve by seeing what the biggest impacts have been on data-driven industries such as new regulations or impacts of AI.
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What are the biggest changes in the world of work (for women) that you are excited about?
There is more of a shift in improving the diversity in many traditionally male-dominated industries. Technology is one of these areas. And there is an increasing number of women that work in technology as program managers, data analysts and programmers.
Also, as the workforce shifts virtually and globally, there are communication and organizational skills that women naturally excel at. I’m hopeful that a strong pipeline of women talent will lead to an increase in the number of women executives in the near future.
Would you say having a degree is the only path to a successful career? Would you say there are opportunities for women entrepreneurs in your career?
I would say that having a degree is not the only path to a successful career. However, having a degree is often viewed as the entry ticket to applying for a role in a financial institution. It is a requirement for entering the traditional job market but it certainly is not a requirement for a successful career.
With that said, there are many paths to success for people in data and technology. It does help to complete a degree. People are often judged by their level of education and where they completed their studies
As for women entrepreneurs in my career, I would say there are opportunities for women to be successful. There is a unique perspective of ideas and solutions that women can offer to the marketplace that can certainly fill a niche.
What advice would you give your younger self and school leavers today?
The advice I would give my younger self and school leavers today is to learn to be comfortable in your own skin. Do not be afraid to follow your own path. Listen to your inner voice. I think in today’s age of social media, there are lots of influencers that can affect someone’s self-confidence and unfortunately, you may judge your self-worth by other people’s opinions. By blocking out the noise and focusing on your passions, it will make you happier in pursuing your dreams.
Our STEM Careers for Women Ambassadors
Peggy Tsai and her Data Solutions Career
BigID is an advanced AI data discovery platform. They help enterprises identify and protect their customer and entity information on structured and unstructured sources. BigID is built entirely on APIs which are used to create apps for use cases related to ensuring data privacy compliance, reducing data security breaches and improving data governance.
Peggy has over 18 years of practitioner experience in data management, stewardship and governance in the financial services industry.
Prior to joining BigID, she was Vice President of Data & Analytics at Morgan Stanley where she helped run the data governance program across the Wealth Management division.
She held various positions at Morgan Stanley. She supported the data science teams on analytical data governance and led a project team to document data lineage and business definitions across enterprise systems in order to comply with Basel regulations.
Peggy was also Data Innovation Lead in the Enterprise Data Management group at AIG. She was responsible for implementing enterprise data management practices to support Anti-Money Laundering, Solvency II and GDPR in the Latin American region and Commercial line of business. Peggy also worked at S&P Global Ratings where she held various positions in enterprise data group and technology in order to drive the value of data between the business and IT.
Peggy has a Masters in Information Systems from New York University and a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Cornell University. In her spare time, she tweets and writes about her favourite topics including data governance, women in data and the future of fintech.