Zipporah Stephen

Data Analyst, Cisco

How I came to STEM

I have always had a love for seeing new places as those had been some of the happiest memories from my childhood. I also had a mother who always told me to go for what I wanted and to dream big, and so when I was 15 and watched ‘Turbulence’ (where an air hostess saved a plane from crashing), I decided that I was going to become a pilot.

I did my research on what qualifications a pilot should have and India had the strictest criteria which was Physics and Mathematics. So I picked those subjects for my GCEs and also took on Further Mathematics. I started flying school during the weekends at age 16, whilst doing my GCEs during the week. I had my private pilot license by 18 and got A*A*A in my exams.

My mentor at Sri Lankan airlines suggested that I should go to university and expand my horizons given my results, and that I could always become a commercial pilot later on. This led me to the UK and to university which I had not considered before. I did Mathematics with Computer Science and followed by an Internship at Intel which led to being head-hunted from Engineering into IT. Fast forward 5 years and I am still working in STEM.

I do plan on returning to flying one day; my first STEM dream – and it’s something I continue to work on.

Why I love what I do

I work with sales managers to put together the data they need to make a sale. This includes quotes and other kinds of reports from finding what the customer needs to booking the sale. To do this I analyse the data, understanding it and explain it. This is my favourite part of the day.

What I’m proud of, & what I’m hoping to achieve through the WYPB

The first step to solving a problem is to recognise there is one. Being part of a Board of women who understand the varying challenges of being a female in a male dominated industry, and working to actively change that balance, whilst also encouraging young talent find its way into this rewarding environment, is invigorating and pioneering.

When I joined the WYPB in 2015, I looked at the numbers around the number of females in mixed vs same sex schools who went onto STEM careers. The results were eye opening and a testament to the fact that majority of the board at the time had gone to all girls’ schools. Being in an environment where all subjects were girls’ subjects factored significantly as subjects weren’t considered to be as gendered.

All my life I have proven the myth that ‘you cannot do it because you are a girl’ wrong. I want to encourage women to recognise their potential and to follow their passion, as a diverse STEM workforce is a productive one.

Posts, Projects & Events

Event: ‘Data for Good Exchange’ in London hosted by Bloomberg

« Back to WYPB Team Page