Lauren Sager Weinstein on the London Games as a winning highlight
What shaped your decision to pursue a career in data?
From a young age, I’ve always been interested in both public service and in technology. My childhood hometown is a suburb of Washington DC, so growing up I saw family and friends working in government, dedicating their careers to making life better for people. I’ve also always been excited by technology. My dad worked on several of the Apollo missions and many bedtime stories were about the science and engineering required to land on the moon. So my current career, working in data and technology for London’s transport network, is a perfect fit for me.
What brought you to London and to Transport for London?
I was finishing my postgraduate degree at the Harvard Kennedy School, and I was intrigued by a chance to work in London, for the then newly created Transport for London. I joined as a senior business planner helping to put together TfL’s first-ever business plan. I have worked in a range of roles since then, including acting head of finance for London's Transport Museum, chief of staff to the managing director of finance and planning, the head of Oyster development, and head of analytics. I’ve had the chance to work on an amazing variety of projects, such as the launch of the contactless payment system across London’s transport network.
Do you feel that you are a Washingtonian or a Londoner?
I am a Londoner and am passionate about the chance to help London grow and make life in London better for all of us who use our transport network. And there is always a new challenge here at TfL!
How has your role changed over time?
At the time I joined TfL in 2002, the data industry was in its infancy. As someone with a background in analysis and an ability to communicate with technical and non-technical audiences, I naturally gravitated towards data. At first, my work on how we could use data to understand and improve our transport network was part of a broader portfolio that I had as chief of staff for our finance and planning division. But as time went on, and we did more and more with data, my data work became a full-time job.
What has been a highlight of your time at TfL?
At the start of 2012, I became the head of analytics at TfL, when we were preparing for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games in London. Heading up our analysis of travel patterns during the excitement of the Games was fantastic, we were able to look at how Londoners and attendees travelled during the Games, which guided our advice to customers so we could provide the best experience for all users. Despite what many naysayers expected, we provided stellar transport services during the Games that were widely complimented and were integral to the smooth running of the events. It was amazing to think we’d played our part in that.
If you didn’t work in data, what industry would you work in?
I’m fortunate to work at the cross-section of dynamic and exciting industries – data and technology, transport, and public policy. I’m so lucky that I don’t have to limit myself to just one industry!