Women in Big Data recently sat down with Deb Sgro to get to know her more and introduce this amazing person to the community.
WiBD: Deb, let’s talk. Tell us a little about yourself.
Deb: Well, maybe I should start at the beginning. I was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, amongst a large Italian-American family. There was always people of all ages around for Sunday dinners, family celebrations, and just every day events. After graduating from college, I joined a program called V.I.S.T.A (Volunteers in service to America), and was assigned to Denver, Colorado as a speech and language therapist for a special needs educational program.
WiBD: Tell us about your career journey.
Deb: After working a number of years in Denver, I returned to New York and took a job as a programmer trainee. With On-The-Job training, and returning to graduate school to study Computer Science, I was able to establish myself in the field of Financial Technology. I worked 40+ years on Wall Street for the American Stock Exchange, the New York Stock Exchange, and BNY Mellon. My career focused on developing solutions for major regulatory initiatives, and deploying network and application security protocols. I retired from that career in 2020, and obtained certification as a career coach. In 2021, I stared a private practice, “Beyond The Glass Ceiling, LLC”, coaching technical women.
WiBD: Can you tell us why you have been supportive of women and help to elevate them?
Deb: Both in graduate school and on the job I was frequently the only woman in the room. There were very few people to network with. So throughout my career, I participated in the women mentoring programs; as a mentee, mentor, and as manager running mentoring initiatives. It’s easy to imagine this strategy came from my family life that understood there is strength in numbers. I look to create and join communities of women technologists so collectively we can become the best we were capable of being.
WiBD: How did you learn about Women in Big Data and what has been your engagement with the organization?
Deb: COVID-19 hit the world the same time I retired, scuttling all of my retirement plans. Because I needed to develop another plan, I reached out to my former colleagues exploring possible opportunities. One of those colleagues was Erika Lunceford, who told me about her involvement in Women in Big Data. This sounded like an organization whose mission I could get behind, and so I joined. In 2021, we offered a Peer Mentoring program through the Bay Area chapter. When conversations arose about a workgroup to pull together the organization’s various mentoring effort, I volunteered to lead that effort. Subsequently, I accepted the Mentoring Director position—and happy I did.
WiBD: What motivates you?
Deb: Probably there are two things that equally motivate me. One is the sense of accomplishment, especially if there is a challenge involved. The other is being of service, especially to provide opportunity where before there was none before.
WiBD: What bothers you?
Deb: A poorly stacked dishwasher!
WiBD: Any fun facts about you?
Deb: I try to engage in a daily Qigong practice.
WiBD: Any quotes or inspirations that you live by?
Deb: Maybe you heard this quote before. It’s my current favorite. I use it as the basis for presentations I give to Women Employee Groups. It comes from Shirley Chisholm, who was the first African-American woman elected to the United States Congress representing New York from 1969 to 1983, and the first woman to run for U.S. President in 1972. So, I’d like to close with her words.
“If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair”.