“These experiences established a more robust confidence for me. Confidence that what I see and experience, others also see and experience – and that I am just the one to say it out loud. Confidence that I can learn technical and complex things, and that although I might not do great at showing that in an exam, I do very well showing that in practice (and in an interview). Confidence that being authentic is hard, but it is worth it, it is an investment that yields high dividends!”
Gala Camacho is the Head of Analytics at Neighbourlytics, a start-up in the civic and property tech space. In her current role she leads the data and analytics strategy and implementation – from ideation through to production. She is in charge of the research and development of their core analytics IP as well as the delivery of bespoke analytics within special projects. Gala has a teaching background, and as such, she relies on many of the strategies she developed as a teacher to build analytics collaboratively and with purpose.
Gala’s technical career has focused mostly on working with non-technical people to develop analytics for measurement, in many different contexts, to help inform decisions. She is experienced across a broad range of technologies, and has managed technical, non-technical, and hybrid teams. She has a masters in mathematics with a focus on operations research and discrete mathematics. Her masters research focused on evaluating ways to better schedule volunteers during an emergency in order to account for the different stages of an emergency activation, as well as the constraints set by the skills the different volunteers have and the skills necessary at every stage.
Outside of work Gala likes to spend time involved with organisations that try to elevate the voices of those who are marginalised – mostly but not limited to technology. Aside from being a Director on the board of Women in STEMM Australia where she finds incredible inspiration and belief in the future for women in STEMM in Australia, Gala is on the board of VicSRC, an organisation which empowers students voices, across Victoria, to be valued in all aspects of education.
What has been the biggest barrier you have faced in your career and how did you overcome it?
For my undergraduate degree, I studied a BSc in Applied Mathematics, which at my university sat within the School of Engineering, and when I graduated I went on to be a secondary school math and science teacher. When I decided to take on a more technical career, I went back to do a MSc in Mathematics, and although I knew that’s what I wanted to do, I felt really lost. Most people around me had gone from their undergraduate straight into their masters, and as such, they had friends to study with, they remembered what they learnt in all the prerequisites, they were used to sitting down and studying for exams. Professors questioned my ability because I couldn’t remember definitions or concepts, it had been >5 years since I had seen this stuff! There was not a lot of empathy thrown around, there was a lot of judgement and a lot of assumptions about who would succeed. I knew I had lots of skills and experiences that those around me did not have, which were valuable and fruitful, but I was always an odd fit for mathematics (at least for how the field currently is!). Sadly, when most think of a mathematician, a passionate mexican woman is not their first guess.
I am extroverted and I am an out-loud thinker, I also make a lot of noise (literally and figuratively). 🙂 I found the learning environment very hostile in and outside the classroom, and a lot of people were unnecessarily mean. Here I was, confident enough to bring up issues I saw in the department, ask questions in class when I didn’t understand, keen to organise social gatherings, overly chatty to those in my office and often expressing vulnerability particularly when I was struggling. How dare I?!
I am blunt, honest and passionate. I brought with me a whole heap of intersectional feminism many around me had never been exposed to. But, I believe it was all of my authenticity that pushed me to overcome the challenge!
I found a small group of people who appreciated my ability to connect and to create meaningful relationships, who helped me re-learn everything I forgot, and who basically taught me the content professors presented. I found professors that could think out-loud with me. Others (including some professors) who were unhappy with issues in the department talked to me about it, and sought conversation around why things were not changing.
These experiences established a more robust confidence for me. Confidence that what I see and experience, others also see and experience – and that I am just the one to say it out loud. Confidence that I can learn technical and complex things, and that although I might not do great at showing that in an exam, I do very well showing that in practice (and in an interview). Confidence that being authentic is hard, but it is worth it, it is an investment that yields high dividends!
LinkedIn: Gala Camacho