Interview with Vicky Castaneda, BEYA STEM Modern-Day Technology Leader

Health Catalyst Analytics Engineer Vicky Castaneda has been awarded the 2023 Modern-Day Technology Leader Award, a part of the BEYA STEM Outstanding Achievement Awards. Castaneda will be recognized for her achievement at the 2023 BEYA STEM Conference at Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in National Harbor, MD.
As part of the 2023 BEYA STEM Conference, more than 50 training sessions are available to students and professionals that offer insights on leadership, career development, and technical advancements in the digital economy. These sessions are led by experts from top organizations and facilitate interaction in knowledge environments that promote networking, training, and mentoring.
To celebrate her award, we sat down with Castaneda to learn more about her journey pursuing a STEM career, her goals, and her advice for women pursuing a career in STEM.

Would you tell us about your role at Health Catalyst?

I am an Analytics Engineer at Health Catalyst. I have been in this role for almost five years. I joined Health Catalyst seven years ago as part of the hosting team. I worked for two years in that role until an opportunity to join the Analytics Services Organization (ASO) team opened.
ASO is part of Health Catalyst’s Professional Services Department, and our team is responsible for identifying and executing opportunities at our client sites. The primary accountability of the ASO is to meet our clients where they are by focusing on and executing what our clients feel is valuable. The secondary responsibility of ASO is to expand our clients’ perspectives of potential opportunities.
We have roughly 200 team members on the ASO team. All work with different clients, and each has team is a different size.

What about this position are you most passionate about? 

I love that this role is always challenging me to learn something new. I work with various clients, and each one is different. Their needs and the improvements they are partnering with us to achieve are different. Even when I work with the same client for a long time, there is always something new to learn, which I find very exciting.
What I enjoy most about this role is getting to know other people. When we partner with new clients, we get to meet many healthcare professionals and learn about various aspects of the industry.

What inspired you to pursue a career in healthcare technology? 

I have been interested in technology and computer science since I was eight years old. I remember my first computer, I thought it was so cool, and it sparked my passion for pursuing STEM subjects in school.
I ended up pursuing a degree in management information systems at the Instituto Tecnológico de Chihuahua II college because of it. I remember in college; there were only a few women in a big group of men. Instead of being intimidated, I decided to look at that as an opportunity to demonstrate that I had a place there, and I ended up being the valedictorian of my class.
I always wanted to end up in healthcare. I’m very passionate about this field and have experienced first-hand how important it is to have good processes and tools to improve healthcare outcomes. I’m very passionate and proud to work with our clients to provide tools and services that can improve and ultimately help save lives.

What advice do you have for other women pursuing a career in STEM? 

The advice I have for other women pursuing a career in STEM is to remember that you bring important qualities to the table. We need you. You belong, you can be successful, and you can shine!

Would you share a role model or quote you find inspiring? What about this person or quote inspires you? 

My grandmothers are my most inspirational role models.
My paternal grandmother’s hard work ethic and her support of her family have always inspired me. She was always so driven and focused on education. She was born in a small town in Mexico, and at a young age, she moved her family to a larger town to get a better education where her siblings could study different trades. She was working as a seamstress and ran a small business to support her siblings as each pursued their education.
My maternal grandmother inspires me with the way she looks at life. She was in a bad car accident when she was 50 years old that caused her to have several hip surgeries and difficulty walking for the rest of her life. Despite the challenge, she was the happiest person, always positive and always lifting others up.
Those two have always inspired me and guided my focus in life. I’m passionate about education and helping others through teaching and training, and I also always try to have a positive approach to life, no matter the circumstances.

What are some of your passions outside of work? What do you like to do on your time off?

I love music. I love playing the cello and singing. This year is going to be my seventh year participating in a music production in my community that is done around Easter time.
For the previous six years, I have supported the production as a cellist, but this year I will be participating in the choir, and I’m very excited about this change. This year’s performance will also be different from previous years because the songs will all be sung in Spanish. I’m excited that this music has been translated and that we are reaching out to the Latin community here in Utah.
I also love to travel. The experiences of traveling can really open your mind and broaden your worldview. I love learning about the history of a new place and trying new foods.

What is one accomplishment you have achieved this past year that you are most proud of?

In January, I became a certified trainer for Crucial Conversation for Mastering Dialogue.
The process to get certified over the last year included taking the course, practicing being a trainer, and teaching the course to three different groups. I look forward to applying this certification to my role in the future. I plan to continue to use it, teaching here at Health Catalyst. I will be instructing several sessions throughout the year.

How does the mission of Health Catalyst or Health Catalyst values resonate with you and inspire your work? 

One of the values that resonates most with me is humility. Technology can be a competitive field, and the value we place on being humble really helps build a more inviting environment to collaborate with each other. Other companies I have worked at in this field make it feel as if you have to be competing with your teammates in order to be recognized and working together is rare.  
I like that here, at Health Catalyst, it feels more like a community where you are helping each other to grow together. Being humble in the process helps you to feel like it’s okay to make mistakes, encouraging you to learn from them and advance.

What are you most excited about at the BEYA STEM Conference? 

I’m always excited to get to know all the people in the STEM community. I have had some amazing opportunities to get to know other people when presenting or moderating with them in sessions.

Will you share with us some of your career goals or personal goals?

My main goal is to make sure my family is happy and to find happiness even when things aren’t perfect. I’m going to be a caregiver for the rest of my life as my husband and I have two autistic children, and my goal is to always focus on the joy in it. While it is a big responsibility, I feel like it brings special challenges and blessings.
Professionally, my goal is to continue learning like I have been doing and be a good team member. My goal is for my colleagues and teammates to feel good working with me and that they know that they can come up to me for help. Like my grandmothers, I hope to bring a little bit of light, knowledge, and joy to their lives.

Interview with Tamika Gray, BEYA STEM Modern-Day Technology Leader

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