People of Hitachi: Dr. Pragyansmita Nayak

People of Hitachi  |  February 24, 2024

At Hitachi Vantara Federal, is it our people that make us great. We recently sat down with Dr. Pragyansmita Nayak, Hitachi Vantara Federal’s Chief Data Scientist, for her story, insights and perspectives on her role, the company culture, and what drives her passion for innovation in the federal sector.

What’s your background and role within Hitachi Vantara Federal?

As Hitachi Vantara Federal’s Chief Data Scientist, I support the pre-sales and professional services teams with design and implementation of solution architectures for data engineering and data science/AI/ML. Together, we support various federal organizations across defense, intelligence, and civilian agencies.

I obtained a Bachelor of Engineering (with honors) in Computer Science from BITS Pilani, India and a Ph.D. in Computational Sciences and Informatics from George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. I am proud to leverage my education and 25+ years of work experience, including over 20 years with the Federal Government, to Hitachi Vantara Federal in our mission-centric implementation of DataOps platforms and data engineering solutions.

What does Hitachi Vantara Federal look like on the inside?

Hitachi Vantara Federal integrates the agility and innovation of a startup environment with the steadfastness and stability inherent in the operations of a large company.

Day-to-day experience is that there is always a new idea, a new concept to learn, a new domain to understand, a new use case to map to a solution architecture – never a dull moment! Moving forward, a new page to turn and new experiences to gather while serving the most important customer of the country – the Federal Government.

Can you share a memorable project or accomplishment that you’ve had since joining the organization?

Most notably in recent years, I was proud to co-architect and lead a program for an important Federal agency relating to their records management requirements and eDiscovery capabilities. This program involved very complex object-based storage solutioning and a variety of large unstructured data requiring connector development, ingestion process and metadata design and management. Proving the solution with the very first dataset of the implementation within the desired time constraints and beating an important deadline in its delivery was a significant milestone – for Hitachi Vantara Federal and for the agency. Witnessing the agency’s newfound data-driven intelligence and capabilities is core to that mission-centric innovation we strive to spark here at Hitachi.

How do you recharge or find inspiration outside of work?

Professionally, I’ve deepened my engagement with AFCEA, Potomac Officers Club, and the Northern Virginia Technology Council (NVTC) in the past couple of years. With NVTC in particular I have sincerely enjoyed volunteering among their Impact AI Summit Steering Committee, representing Hitachi among a slew of technology vendors and service providers local to Northern Virginia. These organizations have enhanced the feeling of being part of a larger Federal community – working together to accomplish shared goals of improving operational efficiency, improving citizen experience for government services and increasing the intellectual capital of the country.

Outside of work, family and friends contribute to a renewed sense of energy and mental well-being, particularly during challenging times (such as when faced with questions like: Why does this code not work? Why is this task taking so long? Why is this concept so difficult to understand? Why is it Sunday evening already?).

Being a foodie myself and married to one, I love experimenting new dishes and restaurants – any cuisine, we are game! And being a long-time DC metro resident, every once in a while, we take time to explore our renowned local museums and monuments… thank you, Smithsonian! Some of my other hobbies include photography, puzzles, knitting and embroidery, and reading.

What advice would you give to someone aspiring to work in federal technology?
  1. You have to continuously learn and grow. Hustle on!
  2. Be yourself.
  3. Question processes. Follow processes. They are often there for a reason and to make the team work easier together.
  4. Speak up and ask for assistance after trying it on your own first – make the effort, if you can solve it by yourself, that feeling is the best!
Why Hitachi Vantara Federal?

Hitachi’s values have remained consistent for the past 100 years  – harmony, sincerity, and pioneering spirit as the key mantra of the organization spread all across the world. Add to that noble foundation the agility and innovation of a data company and you encounter a one-of-a-kind organization that is uniquely positioned to help the different agencies as they start on their data journey.

Finally, there is truly a sense of “you get what you put in” – the outcome reflects the effort invested. There is no limit what you can accomplish being a part of this team.

What’s something about you that your colleagues might be surprised to learn?

Many are surprised to learn that I served as a volunteer election officer for four years (yes, 5am-8pm duties are not for the faint-hearted!)

I also learned to speak Japanese in my very first job and topped the class – bringing me to a total of three fluent languages and a splattering of others which I am continually practicing and learning!

Dr. Pragyansmita Nayak