This interview section aims to present exciting Women in Process Mining from a variety of different professions. From academia to industry, women have been at the forefront of innovation and progress, shaping the way we understand, analyze, and improve processes. Our goal is to celebrate the achievements and expertise of women who have made significant strides in the world of process mining!

Reetika Fleming 

WIPM: Reetika, can you tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m an Executive Research Leader at HFS Research, leading our coverage for enterprise business services and data and analytics. I’ve been an industry analyst for over 15 years, and have thoroughly enjoyed the privileged vantage point we have to learn and share knowledge and work on exciting research studies. I get to exchange views with multiple industry stakeholders, including enterprise leaders and practitioners, technology vendors and global system integrators, advisors, and investors, all working towards solving the next big challenges in business and tech. I get to learn as my day job, no better gig out there. I live in Boston with my husband and two cats, and I am looking forward to adding a baby boy to the equation next month!

WIPM: Can you tell us about your journey within data and analytics within enterprises? Specifically, around process intelligence technologies such as process mining?  

I’ve done a lot of research in enterprise data and analytics over the years. What always struck me was, that even if we applied the best machine learning algorithms to the most comprehensive datasets, and migrated to the latest data platforms… it might help you acquire slightly more customers, or prevent some fraud, but how is it actually changing how people work, what they do in their day jobs? When process intelligence technologies started to emerge, I was blown away by how we could develop specific analytical applications to study the nuts and bolts of what makes a business process good. I remember engaging with some of the pioneers in the space including Celonis in 2017-2018, predicting that this was going to change the enterprise software landscape as we know it! Since then, I’ve been developing HFS’
process intelligence practice as a critical emerging technology change agent within our enterprise data, analytics, and AI coverage.

WIPM: What are the current trends and innovations in the process intelligence space and process mining industry that excite you the most?

There are many innovation streams in this space, but if I had to choose, I’m most excited about the potential of cross-functional process visibility and insights. At HFS, we’ve been passionate about “OneOffice” for a long time, a concept that reflects just how badly large organizations need to get better aligned internally to impact end customer and employee experience. We need to get away from functional/departmental siloes to create shared data views, understand inter-dependent process complexities, and get better operational visibility. End customers don’t care if finance, sales, or customer service teams handle their requests or how they work internally – but they do care about on-time delivery and quality. Unless we better align our functional process data, we can’t meaningfully impact those metrics that matter and can’t fix and anticipate issues proactively. This is where process intelligence is heading, and I personally cannot wait to see how it tangibly changes the definition of business agility.

WIPM: With the last few years of uncertainty, how can process mining technology assist business leaders in maintaining agility, navigating change, and achieving their business objectives?

Process intelligence, in my view, is step 1 for any big organizational change program. Every enterprise leader I speak to is struggling to stay ahead of their markets and is navigating complex change in their macro environment. You can’t undertake any of it unless you have a fundamental understanding of the current state of things. Once
you build that out, and undertake technological transformation (whether that’s implementing automation programs, ERP modernization, etc.), business agility can come in the form of predictive process insights to ultimately help you react faster to your customers, suppliers, and partners.

WIPM: What advice would you give to young professionals who aspire to become leaders within the process mining industry?

Imposter syndrome is very, very real, especially for young women professionals working in the tech industry. Don’t let it hold you back from taking on new projects and initiatives that you know will help your career. For process intelligence, let’s be real; no one can fully know everything in a market where the playbooks are not yet written and the technology is constantly evolving. Use that as a source of comfort if you need it, and prepare to figure out the rest as you go!

Thank you, Reetika!

najah's picture

Najah El-Gharib

1. Tell us more about yourself: What is your profession and what do you like most about your job?

I am a researcher, consultant, and educator. I wear many different hats! I live in Ottawa, Canada.

I am starting my third year as a PhD candidate at the University of Ottawa (uOttawa). My research focuses on process mining and Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and how process mining can be applied on processes that are partially automated. I also hold a bachelor in computer sciences and a masters in process mining for cloud based applications, both from uOttawa.

I am incredibly proud to be one of the founders of the Canadian Process Mining Community we’ve already been having a lot of success. I started this community for researchers across Canada a month ago, we were featured in the IEEE Task force on Process mining. We had our first in person gathering at York University in July 2023 and it was a huge success! We have a growing team at uOttawa in process mining research working on real projects with industry collaborators. This is a huge success for us to grow this Canadian community, collaborate with other communities globally and start using such innovative technology to solve real problems.

I am also a Senior Consultant with PricewaterhouseCoopers as part of the Cloud and Data team working daily with clients to solve real world problems that are making an impact across industries. Using all the new technologies and innovations to solve client problems is super motivating for me which makes me enjoy my work everyday.

Five years ago I started teaching high school girls computer science as part of the uOttawa Outreach Engineering program. This is part of the global technovation competition which is to build a mobile app to solve a community problem. Every year my students have great ideas to use technology, programming, and AI to solve community problems. Their ideas are just amazing and when you see the motivation in these girls you want to give more and help them build self-confidence, courage, enjoy what they are doing and make an impact.

I do enjoy all my roles and most importantly is being able to have a compliment between being research and practice and they both have a great impact on my career growth both in academia and industry.

2. Why did you choose to do process mining? What inspired you the most? How did you end up with process mining?

As I was finishing my bachelor’s degree in computer sciences from uOttawa, I was looking to start my masters in the field of data sciences. I happened to find a supervisor that does work in the area of BPM and requirement engineering. After my first meeting with him, he suggested I read a few papers on process mining and I knew that this was a topic I wanted to learn more about! That is how it all started! Perfect fit as process mining sits at the intersection of process sciences and data sciences. I started digging more research work, learning, publishing, reading about the field. During my masters degree, my thesis introduces a new method to study, discover, and analyze cloud-based application processes using process mining techniques.I also collaborated with a local company in Ottawa to apply my case study on their real dataset. Few years later, we had several students in my lab working on more advanced solutions as part of this project too.

3. What was your biggest challenge when working in the field of process mining?

My main challenge coming from academia to consulting was learning to reframe my process mining technical knowledge through a business lens and look into generating business value from process mining. This is something that I did not explore from the research side, so to overcome this, I invested time into talking to practitioners, listening to webinars, reading articles, attending conferences, and staying up to date on what is happening in the market. It became important to me to learn that as well, since I want to develop research that is practical and it can be applied and useful in real life too. As researchers, we learn from industry and we discover real problems that we can work on. I am a big believer that industry and academia complement each other. I love how I can enrich my research based on what I see in the real world applications and also challenge myself to use my technical knowledge in solving a business problem and show value. Additionally, recently we saw a lot of increase in process mining applied research on real applications.  For example as well, more research work into how process mining can generate business value for companies, how and why they should do it.

4. What are the most exciting trends shaping the future of process mining?

With all the recent acquisitions, we can see there is a lot more attention for process mining and the large ERP systems are integrating with process mining tools. There is a perception that process mining is about “looking at the past”, and not about “driving change and automation”. However, I see process mining now  and going forward, is actually a lot about planning, prioritizing, and monitoring process automation and change. For example, combining process mining with RPA, simulation, and predictive monitoring. As organizations realize that process mining is not only about descriptive analytics but also about driving change, then the adoption of the technology will increase. Process mining is about driving continuous process improvement across organizations. The field has evolved a lot with more research attention on real applications as well and how can organizations see business value and adopt such a technology.

5. Which recommendations and tips would you give other women?

Build your network! Network, network, network. Network with the right people and stay active in the community. Having a great network and community support is essential for growth, getting feedback, learning, collaborating, enriching your knowledge, and building confidence. Working and collaborating with others outside your research field and area of expertise is very important to enrich your knowledge.

Be the change that you like to see !

If there is something that you want to see in your team, but it isn’t already in place then you need to set up and be that change instead of waiting for it to happen by itself. You can always start somewhere and ask for the team’s support. This taught me that instead of waiting for an opportunity, you need to create that opportunity and you are the main driver for your career path.

Keep learning! This comes in many forms, whether you are talking to people, networking, attending conferences, webinars, giving presentations, participating in panel discussions. We learn a lot from each other and all our experiences.

Thank you, Najah!

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