Jyotsna Sateesh is the Lead Data Scientist in Macquarie’s Risk Surveillance team. She joined Macquarie’s Technology Returner Program in Sydney after a 10-year break from the workforce and has since reinvented her career.
During the final year of her Masters in Computer Application, Jyotsna Sateesh was recruited by a global IT consulting company as a Software Engineer in her home country of India. Over the next seven years her career took her to the UK and United States, where she worked for big name companies on integration projects and new IT systems.
“It was awesome to be an architect of solving problems, to learn to relate to different people and explain tech concepts,” Jyotsna explains.
Jyotsna quickly realised most IT problems required simple solutions. But one problem she struggled with was juggling her career with her responsibilities of caring for her young children, especially as her husband often travelled with his own job. She was also worried about her aging parents back in India.
“I didn’t know how to balance work and caring responsibilities at home, so after much deliberation decided to return to India.” Jyotsna explains.
Taking a career break, she focused on raising her kids and supporting her parents.
“I feel like I did the right thing for my family,” Jyotsna says. “My kids learned about family, culture, connection and support.”
Her family relocated again, this time to Australia with her husband’s job, which gave Jyotsna a unique opportunity to consider her options.
Through the years, as Artificial Intelligence (AI) evolved from science fiction to reality, Jyotsna remained engaged and connected with the IT industry by reading.
“I experienced a lot of self-doubt about going back to work,” Jyotsna admits. “I wondered, who would give me a job? How would I compete with younger, and what I considered, more talented people?”
Jyotsna decided her best path would be to upskill and, after researching, she settled on an intensive three-month program, that combined tech skills such as Data Science with career and advice on preparing for a job.
When she finished, Jyotsna's interest was piqued by an article that mentioned Macquarie’s Technology Returner Program in Australia which offers support, coaching and training to those returning to the workforce after a career break.
In 2019, after a successful interview, Jyotsna joined Macquarie full time as a Data Scientist in the technology team aligned to risk surveillance.
“The Returner Program is the main reason I joined Macquarie and it’s been an amazing, supported journey that has remoulded my career,” she says.
Jyotsna says that while she naturally felt apprehension and anxiety around restarting her career, the Returner Program made it easy.
“My greatest fear was around how people would perceive me,” Jyotsna laughs. “But that was all within my mind.”
The program allowed Jyotsna to grow her skills on the job with the support of career coaching sessions. She also credits the encouragement she received from colleagues and managers.
“Macquarie’s flexible working helps and the flat structure was different,” Jyotsna says. “Everyone interacts, regardless of level.”
“My team was helpful and my manager would always check in to make sure I had everything I needed to grow in my role,” Jyotsna explains. “They had no hesitation in enabling me to attend a prestigious data science conference within the first two months of starting.”
Jyotsna’s new career in data science allows her to explore her passion for solving problems.
“Data tells the true story,” Jyotsna says. “It reveals patterns, we can see where problems may be, and what we need to do.”
“It’s a mix of maths and computer science with a bit of common sense thrown in, - and it’s fun,” Jyotsna says.
“But the best part of data science is that you can tell a story through the insights.”
While she notes some common threads between her previous work as a consultant, and the work she does as a data scientist, in returning to the workforce, Jyotsna reinvented her career by pivoting from a management role, to being a specialist.
In 2021, Jyotsna was promoted to Lead Data Scientist, as part of a team of three in Sydney. Other data science colleagues are spread across the UK, India and Australia.
“When there is a new project or engagement, I understand the business problem first, explore the data and then deep dive into the technical side; the best way to solve it. Data science uses coding, algorithms, statistics and different ways to tell the story, so we brainstorm, research improvements, and find the best solution to the problem for our stakeholders.”
Jyotsna has been published on Macquarie’s Engineering blog, and she counts as a highlight presenting on machine learning to Macquarie’s Chief Operating Officer.
“You can’t stop learning here,” Jyotsna says.
The day-to-day work Jyotsna does as a data scientist contributes towards assessing the team’s risk appetite.
“Data science is about context,” she explains. “We clear the haystack so we can help find the needle.”
“It can be a time consuming activity,” Jyotsna says. “We’ve put in a lot of effort to gain that respect and trust from our stakeholders, and we’ve now been invited by other teams in risk management to work on data.”
Having worked on a risk surveillance implementation, Jyotsna’s team of data scientists are entering new areas of risk management including financial crime, operational risk, and compliance risk.
“There are so many opportunities at Macquarie - it's up to you to pick what will bring the most value to the organisation, and your career.”
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