Mission Critical is excited to introduce you to the 2024 Top 25 Women in Technology. Meet Ghada Richani.

Title: Managing Director, Data and Technology Strategy, and Program Management Office

Company: Bank of America

Age: 50

Education: Master’s degree in software engineering

Organizational affiliations: Gartner Southern California; Grace Hopper; LEAD for Women

Achievements/awards: 2023 Data Leader of the Year

What made you realize you wanted to pursue a career in technology?

My enthusiasm for leveraging technology as a catalyst for business growth began in my early academic years when I chose Computer Science as my major. An internship presented me with the chance to develop a database management system for a government institution that previously relied on manual document processing. Upon the successful completion of my project, witnessing the improved efficiency and accuracy served as a defining moment, reinforcing my commitment to pursuing a career in technology.

What inspires you to do what you do?

What inspires me is the limitless potential that comes from utilizing technology to solve business problems, while collaborating with diverse talent and positively impacting people's lives.

What role does sustainability play in your life?

I feel fortunate to be part of an organization that places a high priority on environmental consciousness and actively works to reduce its carbon footprint. This aligns with my personal belief that we have a responsibility to safeguard Mother Earth from further harm caused by human activities.

What is the most fascinating thing you have learned while working in this industry?

The dedication to ongoing learning is particularly captivating to me. The industry not only promotes but necessitates a mindset of lifelong learning, ensuring that professionals remain at the cutting edge of advancements. When I completed college, FoxPro and C were the industry standards. Considering the rapid technological progress today, without the investment in continuous upskilling for both my team and myself, it could have had detrimental effects on our career advancement.

What’s something unique about you personally?

I invest time in mentoring young women in the field of technology. Having personally encountered biases while forging my career path, I understand the challenges they face. Guiding them through the tech landscape not only resonates with my professional expertise but also represents a distinctive means of contributing to my community.

What’s something unique about you professionally?

One unique aspect of my professional background is my cross-industry expertise. Having worked in the government, services, construction, financial, education, and waste management industries, I bring a diverse perspective that allows me to approach challenges with a broad understanding.

What’s your most admirable quality?

Empathy is my most admirable quality. I strive to understand others' perspectives, which fosters strong connections and effective collaboration in both personal and professional relationships.

Why is diversity, equality, and inclusion important to you?

Our workplaces and communities ought to echo the diversity inherent in the world. Recognizing distinctions in gender, race, ethnicity, and more is not just a matter of ethics; it aligns with the actual composition of our global society, creating an inclusive environment and adding unparalleled richness to the workplace. This belief led me to implement the Courageous Conversations program at my organization. This program is dedicated to pinpointing unconscious bias and facilitating open discussions to help individuals address and overcome it.

What aspect of the industry do you think has the most potential for growth, and, on the other hand, which aspect do you think needs the most improvement?

I see substantial growth potential in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML). Ongoing advancements in these fields present transformative opportunities across industries, ranging from automation to data analysis. While AI and ML offer promising prospects, it's crucial to address associated risks. Consequently, I believe the industry would benefit from enhancements in cybersecurity and the governance and control of ethical technology use.

When you imagine the future of the technology industry, what does it look like?

I envision a future where Artificial Intelligence is seamlessly integrated into every facet of our lives. AI-powered technologies will enhance efficiency, personalization, and decision-making across diverse industries.

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