Ana Maldonado on 360° feedback, leadership, and data science workflow

  • Geplaatst op maandag 17 januari 2022
  • Leestijd 4 minuten
Meet Ana, Avanade Advanced Analytics Manager

Meet Ana Maldonado, Data Science Practice Lead and Group manager Advanced Analytics at Avanade. Over the last 15+ years, she has been working in international environments along with multidisciplinary teams, translating clients' needs and business questions into solutions with an innovative twist. Born and raised in Venezuela, she packed her bags to do her PhD in Paris and has been in Europe ever since. Working as a research scientist and data scientist is what developed her passion for research, innovation, and data science even more.

Always remain curious
Ana lives with her partner and two daughters in Amsterdam. When she is not working, reading Sci-Fi books keeps her busy: “Also taking care of my family consumes the rest of my time. My two daughters are just as stubborn as I am, but I can see they have an enormous drive to explore new things. We like to go to museums. Nemo is one of our favorites, but we are big fans of Micropia and the Tropenmuseum as well. I like to stay curious and keep discovering. For example, when I started baking healthy recipes, I kept on trying until I perfected my beetroot chocolate cake. It is now famous, at home as well as in the office. I like living in Amsterdam. It is a city of human size. You can easily walk or bike around town and the people are really nice too.”

Culturally diverse team
Last year the data science team Ana was working with became part of Avanade: “I did the jump first, six months before the team. We were very adamant to stay together, but I wanted to know the company and make arrangements before welcoming the team. The strategy is very similar to my previous employer: we help businesses to harness their data and use it to understand, model, and predict business performance, and make better business decisions. A surprising fact was the diversity program of Avanade. It is on another level. I work with a truly diverse team with many nationalities and backgrounds which is very beneficial to the deliverables quality and the overall team performance.”

Working in Data Science
“For data science development we follow a structured workflow. First, we have the discovery phase, where we sit down and brainstorm to understand the business problem. In this stage, it is important to define success and the data needs. Then we focus on data understanding & exploration and start the analytical modeling step. My favorite part. By modeling the data, we can discover trends, clusters, patterns, and more. It is as if the data is talking to you, and you need to understand what is happening. After a few iterations we A/B test to assess impact. We build checkpoints to reflect on what we are doing and what comes next. Some projects stop here and with other clients, we go even further and industrialize the solution or create Power BI dashboards for model output consumption.”

360° feedback assessment
At Avanade, you get the help and resources to grow personally and professionally. Something Ana is incredibly grateful for: “Recently I completed an online leadership coaching program, involving a 360° feedback assessment. In my professional life, I have been very lucky to always have great managers and I aspire to be a good manager myself. I, therefore, asked my colleagues to provide me with feedback. This was very useful. It confirmed some of my strengths but also provided me with concrete improvement points.”

“I believe that to improve, it is important to communicate and listen and this starts with my team.”

Motivating people
For a team to stay motivated it is important to foster positive moments of contact: “In our current Work From Home set up, we already have too many meetings, so any moment of contact needs to have a purpose. We have structural meetings, for example to inform on relevant pieces of training and involve the team in strategic decisions. Those moments are also good to ask how we are all doing, if there are any problems, and remind everyone that I am available to help. It takes intention and time to build a foundation of trust, honesty, and authenticity and my team is worth every minute of it."

Interviewing tips
A somewhat unconventional approach to job interviewing: turn the table and ask the interviewer questions. From a manager's perspective, Ana thinks this will help the job candidate acquire a new perspective of the job: “I like it when a candidate asks me questions. I want to know what it is that awakens their curiosity. Challenge me and the company by asking interesting questions. I define consultancy often as being a problem solver. We visit clients to offer our help, to make things better. And we ask a lot of questions. Tell me what your ideal job is and let’s make it work.”

Click here for more information on careers at Avanade.

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