Doing data analysis across sectors

Toni Sekinah, Knowledge-based content manager, DataIQ

Diana Akanho has had a varied career, having worked at a charity, an NHS trust, a market research company, a software provider, a fundraising specialist, an outdoor advertising specialist as well as a media and marketing company.

"Statistical skills can be applied to any type of data."

Akanho has been able to work in so many sectors thanks to her training in statistics and data analysis. “The analysing of data exists in every industry,” she said. “Statistical skills can be applied to any type of data which keeps things interesting and allows growth and understanding in any type of sector I may have an interest in.”

'Regression' draws out anomalies."

Diana Akanho, customer insights manager, Upper Street EventsShe acquired those skills during her master’s in Applied Statistics. The most useful concept she learnt on the course was to have an understanding of a problem and the most appropriate statistical model to solve it. Akanho thinks that 'regression' is a particularly useful techniques that can be applied to different types of data sets. She elaborated: “It draws out anomalies whilst also showing what relative influence one or more predictor variables has on the response variable. This results in a prediction equation, which can be applied to the wider data set and allows the wider understanding of what is driving the response variable and in turn the outcomes that are expected.”

"You could apply these techniques to real life problems."

It was before that, during the second year of her undergraduate degree in maths and statistics, however, that the spark of statistics was really ignited in Akanho as she “was impressed by the way you could apply these techniques to real life problems.”

One particularly challenging project that Akanho has worked on involved helping a client understand their digital share of voice, whether that be search, social or adspend. It consisted of creating a framework to aid the understanding of the type of customer, and potential funnel that existed. 

“The tools that helped me to solve this problem were: R, social listening tools and SEO. This process involved writing Boolean queries, cleaning and formatting data, clustering topics of conversation, creating a benchmark against their competitors and then finally combining the results against their digital spend to give an overall ranking, Akanho explained. “This was a new problem to solve and a lot of thought had to go into what tools to use to get the data needed, how to process it and what insights did I want to deliver to provide something useful.”

"Automating a process to make your life easier is extremely helpful."

She currently works at Upper Street Events as insights manager, where on a daily basis she works with transactional, claimed and behavioural data. Akanho also maintains the database to ensure that it is accurate, and provides analysis, insights and recommendations based on that data for different team events.

Akanho was set on the path to her varied and exciting career by her father, an IT professional who started to teach her to code when she was five years old. Unsurprisingly, she thinks coding, alongside mathematics and statistics skills are handy to have. She said: “If you are able to automate a process to make your life easier – be that something simple like using macros to copy and paste or format data or something complex like running a predictive model – it is extremely helpful.”

Diana Akanho is featured in Twenty in Data 2018, a collaboration between Women in Data UK and The Female Lead.

Knowledge-based content manager, DataIQ
Toni is the senior features editor responsible for the origination of DataIQ's interviews, articles and blogs.