Curious about what it’s like to work at SAS? You’re in the right place. Our people are always asking “What if?” and pushing the boundaries of innovation, and their curiosity is at the core of our company.
Today, Vrushali Sawant, a Data Scientist in our Data Ethics Practice, is sharing about her career journey at SAS, passion for #Data4Good and how SAS’ Data Ethics Practice is moving the needle for good.
Vrushali’s SAS Story
“I moved to the United States in 2015 to pursue my Master’s degree in Data Science and Business Analytics at UNC Charlotte,” Vrushali explains. “I learned about SAS through my coursework, and it piqued my curiosity. SAS is the inventor of Data Science, it’s THE company for analytics. What better place to start my career in Data Science?” Vrushali joined SAS as a Graduate Intern while she completed her degree, then began a new role as a Solution Consultant post-graduation, working with state and local governments on various analytical projects.
“In my role as a consultant, I often dealt with sensitive and private customer information, trying to help customers make decisions based on their data,” she explains. “Every row I saw represented a human – I realized that the work we’re doing, it’s touching people’s lives.” That’s when Vrushali discovered a new interest: Data Ethics.
SAS’ Data Ethics Practice
Data is the basis for solid decision making, but when bias enters the picture, it creates consequences. “When software is taught to learn from biased data, it propagates them further,” explains Vrushali. “As Data Scientists, we shouldn’t be doing any harm.”
That’s the impetus behind SAS’ Data Ethics Practice (DEP), a team of experienced data scientists, developers and others that provide counsel and guidance to empower SAS employees and customers to put humans at the center of AI and analytics.
“A role on the Data Ethics team was posted while I was on maternity leave,” Vrushali explains. “I wanted to pursue it, so I interviewed while I was on leave and joined the Data Ethics Practice upon my return. Internal mobility at SAS is awesome – and I've had a great firsthand experience.”
For Vrushali, every aspect of her work with the DEP is exciting. “As a Data Scientist, my focus is on making sure that our products have a certain amount of fairness and bias assessment and mitigation capabilities,” she shares. “That way, when we hand our products over to the end user, they are alerted when the data they’re using to make decisions has the potential to create harm.”
Data Ethics is a relatively new domain in the industry: “People are seeing the harm AI can do if it isn’t used responsibly,” Vrushali explains. “Our group is committed to identifying and mitigating adverse impacts.”
Loving the #saslife
For Vrushali, the most rewarding part of her job is the difference she’s making every day: “I know that no matter what project I’m working on, I’m making a difference in someone’s life,” she shares. “It’s not just someone out there, I can see so clearly how the work we’re doing is positively influencing people’s lives.”
In addition to her day job, Vrushali is also a member of two of SAS’ Employee Inclusion Groups, SAS International Connection (SASIC) and Young Professionals Network (YPN). “EIGs are a great way to meet with different folks from around the business and hear about their experiences,” she shares. “SAS is a very diverse and inclusive workplace. Everyone’s opinion is valued, and as a woman, I feel empowered here.”
Outside the office
Outside the office, you’ll find Vrushali baking and dancing with a local dance group. As a new mom, she also enjoys walks with her nine-month-old: “Hybrid work has made it easier to balance work and spending time with my daughter,” Vrushali shares. “I love having that option.”
Thank you, Vrushali, for sharing your story! Interested in a career that makes a difference? Check out open roles at sas.com/careers.
I enjoyed working with Vrushali in USPS before she moved to her current role. We decided we would have been the chatty neighbors on the hall in Bldg Q if it were not for the pandemic.. I am so pleased to see her story here. Best wishes to Vrushali.
Vrushali is a very skilled and sincere person to work with
Great article. Vrushali is definitely a joy to work with as someone else has stated.