At Home with VHA: Meet Lyka Obial, Data Engineer, IT Digital Services & Analytics
Every role at VHA contributes to something amazing. At Home with VHA tells the stories of those who make up VHA Home HealthCare.
Meet Lyka Obial, Data Engineer. Lyka’s role is key to supporting the priority outlined in VHA’s Strategic Plan to use data intelligence to inform decisions.
Describe to us what a day in the life of Lyka Obial is like at VHA.
As a data engineer, one of my main responsibilities is to have the data standardized and easily accessible for our team members. I look after our data transfer process which collects information from different sources (i.e., GoldCare, AlayaCare, Quadrant Workforce, etc.) and stores it into our data repository. That data is then structured and converted into usable information for analytical and operational purposes. Aside from collecting and preparing data, I also create reports and dashboards in PowerBI, an important software we use to provide insights that help supervisors and leaders make informed decisions. As part of our efforts to develop a Reporting Centre of Excellence, I also provide training to different teams on how to create PowerBI reports.
What do you like most about your role?
Being able to share my knowledge, work with other people, and wear multiple hats are some of the things I love most about my role. It can be challenging sometimes, especially when it comes to managing workloads and meeting timelines, but I get to learn and experience a lot of new things. A few months ago I had the opportunity to manage a project for the first time. Working with my amazing and hard-working colleagues, John, Elena, and Bill, we migrated two of our old servers which held our data repositories onto a new server. Just like with other projects, there were some challenges, but I can proudly say the migration was a success thanks to our great teamwork. Kudos to everyone!
Tell us about your career path, what brought you to the world of IT?
Back home in the Philippines, I graduated in Computer System Design and Programming. When I moved to Canada, I came through a caregiver position which was one of the simpler and more affordable ways to come here at the time. After 7 years living here and working as a caregiver, I decided to go back to school and upgrade my career. This was not an easy step for me, as I was a main breadwinner in my family and I wasn’t sure I’d be successful. But I said to myself, “if others can do it, why can’t I?” and I kept on going from there.
I enrolled in a Computer Programmer Analyst program as it was related to my prior education. I also chose it because problem solving through coding, or writing algorithms, has always been my passion and I thought that maybe someday I could develop my own application. In this program I learned the basics of business intelligence and data engineering, and through it I realized that I wanted to become a data engineer. And so I pushed myself to learn more and through my hard work I even made it onto the Dean’s list at school.
While in school, I volunteered at University Health Network to gain experience. After 3 months volunteering, I was hired as a part-time Quality Assurance Analyst which became a full-time position after I graduated. A year later, I moved to a Systems Analyst role at SickKids Hospital and fast forward 3 years, I was promoted to Senior Data Analyst. Finally in March 2021, the opportunity I had been waiting for arrived and I joined VHA as a Data Engineer.
There is not a lot of focus in the media about the role of IT in the healthcare sector. Most often attention is given to popular app development or tech giants. You have worked in the healthcare sector throughout your entire career, what inspired you to choose this sector?
Being able to help clients and families indirectly by providing service providers, supervisors, and leaders with the information they need, is what inspired me to work in the healthcare sector. For instance, providing our leaders with information about the number of missed care visits and being able to explain why they may have happened can help with decisions on what actions to take. Maybe the information I provide points out that the majority of missed care is due to a staff shortage, and with this knowledge, leaders consider hiring more staff to prevent or minimize the number of missed care visits in the future.
Data is information and information leads to making the right decisions and taking actions that improve client care. I believe that everyone in healthcare, whether working directly or indirectly with clients, can make a difference in providing quality care to clients and families. That’s what makes this job so rewarding.
Though there are more women in the tech industry, a significant gender gap continues to persist. What advice would you give to other women interested in pursuing a career in tech?
There are more men working in tech than women which can make some women feel like tech jobs are for men, even though women also have what it takes to do the job. In my first few days at school, I felt like I didn’t belong there since most of my classmates were men. I think only 20% or less of the students in that program were women, and every semester while I was there the number shrank, but I still made it through. My advice to women interested in pursuing a career in tech is to believe in yourself and keep going. Do not let anyone or anything tell you what you can or can’t do.
What are some of your passions and hobbies outside of work?
When I’m not working, I like to paint. I’m not really good at it but I find it relaxing. I also like baking, cooking, biking, gardening, and watching movies.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
I’d like to thank you for giving me this opportunity to share my story. I hope it inspires people to never give up on their dreams. I would also like to give a special thanks to my manager Mark who never fails to motivate us by recognizing everyone’s hard work and always provides us with opportunities to grow. I’m so grateful to be a part of the VHA family.