Women in Data: Meet BetterAI CEO Angel Vossough

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The latest installment in our Q&A series with women leaders in data features Angel Vossough, CEO and co-founder of BetterAI. (Read our previous Q&A here.) 

Angel Vossough spent over a decade working as a network engineer before she founded her first startup, a data-driven company that helped female professionals excel in their careers. During COVID-19, Vossough returned to school for her second master’s degree – in data science – with a focus on search and recommendations using AI. She now serves as the CEO and co-founder of data technology company BetterAI, which recently launched VinoVoss, a virtual semantic search and recommendation platform for wine. We asked Vossough about what inspired her to pursue a career in data management, and why getting ahead can be so challenging for women in the field. You can follow her on LinkedIn.

What inspired you to choose a career in data and become a leader in the field?

I have always been fascinated by statistics and analyzing big data. I worked at Cisco for more than 10 years as a network engineer, dealing with lots of data to monitor network performance and detect anomalies and patterns. As the only woman on my team, I was in charge of recruiting technical women in my department. Through this, I learned so much about the choices women make in directing their careers and understood the depth of the challenges. 

I was very fortunate that Cisco was a leader in having enlightened policies on flexible work, and they let me work remotely while raising my twin daughters for the first year. Meanwhile, I saw my high-achieving female friends, intelligent and highly qualified, “dropping out” after starting families. Many of my female friends gave up on their careers due to a lack of support from their employers to effectively integrate their lives and careers. 

Every year, Forbes publishes “America’s Best Employers for Women.” I was always wondering what this really meant. Our lives as women are dynamic, and depending on where we are in our lives and what stage we are going through, we have different needs. Usually, in our 20s, we want to advance our careers and climb up the corporate ladder, while in our 30s, we might need job flexibility and longer maternity leave. As a result, we need different decision-making criteria for different life situations. 

This realization led me to build my own startup, called DiverseUp, to help women find a better way when choosing an employer. DiverseUp was created as a benefit corporation to serve professional women seeking to expand their careers and achieve a sustainable work-life balance. DiverseUp provided women with an inside look into which companies had female-friendly policies and cultures and matched them with job opportunities at those companies. The goal was to bring transparency to work practices, measure diversity policy effectiveness, and help companies attract and retain female talent.  

What has been your biggest challenge as a woman in data?

One of the most significant challenges was navigating the tech industry as one of the only women in technical teams, especially in leadership roles. This experience highlighted the importance of diversity and inclusion in tech, driving me to understand and address the high turnover rates of women in tech. My focus on attracting and retaining female talent in such a dynamic and sometimes challenging environment tested my resilience but ultimately strengthened my leadership and advocacy for women in tech.

Best advice you’d give to other women aspiring for a leadership role in data?

My advice is to pursue your curiosity. Dive deep into using the tools available today, and imagine how they can and should be better. Seek out mentors and networks that support your growth, and don’t shy away from taking on challenging projects that stretch your capabilities. The AI field thrives on diversity of thought and innovation, so your contributions can truly make a difference. 

Fun fact about yourself?

I love cooking and learning about new cuisines. I like trying new things. I enjoy experimenting with diverse cuisines and ingredients, which mirrors my approach to data science – mixing different elements to create something new and interesting. This hobby not only serves as a creative outlet but also allows me to connect with cultures and stories from around the world.

Did you know? We produced our first Women in Data Management and Governance half-day conference at Enterprise Data World 2024. Hear the live recording and join the community by signing up for our Women in Data Management and Governance newsletter.