It’s not just Father’s Day that can bring family members together. Over recent years, Bring In Your Parents Day has proved to be a massive global success. But what if you had to work in the same company as one of your parents every day?
This is the reality for Laura Westbury, who recently joined Experian, inspired by the 20-year career in the world of data which her father, Barry, has had with the company.
Tell us a little bit about your role, Barry?
Barry Westbury (BW): I am operations director for Experian IT Services (EITS), where I manage the UK and North American data centres. This includes looking after over 6,000 servers and mainframes. I find my place of work fascinating, so I’m always keen to offer tours of the data centre, mainly to new employees and clients and, increasingly, to external auditors now that we are regulated by the FCA.
What was it about your Father’s role that inspired you to want to join one of the biggest data companies?
Laura Westbury (LW): We moved from York to Nottingham in 1999 for my dad to work at Experian, so it’s been an important part of our family for most of my life. One of my earliest memories of my Dad’s career growing up is going to a data centre with him on Christmas Day when I was quite young.
Being there on the most important day over the festive period did make me understand how dedicated he is to doing a good job. We went in to say Merry Christmas to everyone who had to work. Dad being like he is made sure it was turned into a fun trip, although he did end up making us late home for Christmas dinner…
Have you been on one of your Father’s data centre tours, Laura?
LW: Yes. Growing-up, there’s always been opportunities to see what my dad gets up to in his day job. I’ve probably been on about five tours over the years, usually when EITS hosts the annual Family Fun Day.
Is it a constant challenge looking after a data centre, Barry?
BW: Looking after so much data in Fairham House is a huge responsibility, but we invest a lot into keeping it secure. From a physical perspective, the perimeter fences are motion-sensitive, the footpaths are pressure sensitive, and the barriers to the car park are built to stop a lorry at 65mph. There are also 84 cameras monitoring the facility.
All our data centres in the UK and North America are correctly accredited to ensure we minimise the potential threat of security incidents. Our networks are constantly being monitored by the Global Security Operations Centre (GSOC) to look for any unusual activity across our client-facing networks.
The control room runs 24 hours a day, 365 days a year as computers never sleep! Our data centres support systems in 37 countries worldwide, including Italy, India, Denmark and Norway. So, in answer to your question, yes, it is a challenge.
Did you ever expect Laura to work at Experian?
BW: Not at all. She has a degree in education, so thought she could potentially venture down that career path. Coincidently, she did have a brief stint at another data centre in Derby. When I saw the job role in Experian’s Community Team come up, I thought it would be the perfect fit for her. She is so passionate about community and charity work and is involved in several projects in her own time.
Tell us some more about the role you’ve taken and why you chose to work for a data company, Laura?
LW: My role is community involvement executive. In a nutshell, I support our corporate responsibility programme, be it volunteering, funding or charity - I am involved in it and I love it! The passion that Experian has for making a difference in the community was a very attractive prospect and I jumped at the chance to work for them.
What influence did your father have on your decision to work in the data/tech industry?
LW: Seeing my dad working for a big organisation like Experian gave me a real desire to follow in his footsteps. Having the ability to travel, regularly meet new people and, more importantly, develop my career was very appealing to me. It’s just a happy coincidence for him that we now work in the same workplace.
What should data/tech companies do to ensure fathers they employ have a good life-work balance?
BW: Spending time with Laura and the rest of my family is the most important thing to me, so I take advantage of that as much as I can. There is a possibility that I, or other people could be called upon at any time, so ensuring that our workforce has the ability to work remotely if needed is integral. It’s important that companies encourage their employees to have a good work-life balance as a happy workforce is generally more productive. Experian’s introduction of flexible working has certainly helped.
What advice would you give to young women considering a career at a data company?
LW: It’s easy for a woman to be put off at the prospect of working for a data company, but it’s something not to be intimidated by. It’s also easy to assume that it will always be male-dominated, but it isn’t. Young women should take heart knowing that there are plenty of inspirational women working in data companies, as I have found.
BW: There are so many career opportunities working for a global company like Experian. We regularly have new roles created throughout the business to meet the changing market, new technology trends and regulatory requirements. We’re currently putting a lot of effort into encouraging more women to apply for roles in the business that have traditionally been dominated by men, for example STEM roles. We’re proud to have hosted many female work experience students within EITS, so it’s a great opportunity for us to inspire the next generation to consider working for a data company.
Did your dad give you any advice on your first day?
LW: Just to enjoy it. I had a massive fear of the unknown, but he reassured me I was coming into a great team. On my first day, he conveniently had meetings in the same building as me and just so happened to walk past my desk. It’s sweet, though, as I know he is looking out of me and it did give me that extra bit of reassurance that he is there if I did need him.
What is the most important thing your dad has ever taught you?
LW: Treat others as you would like to be treated and, regardless of how well you’ve done, as long as you know you’ve put everything into it, that’s the most important thing.
What do you think you can learn from Laura?
BW: Ironically, how to work technology. It’s changed so much since I started, it’s sometimes hard to keep up with the latest technology trends.
Describe what it’s like having Laura working at Experian?
BW: It’s great having someone to talk to when I get home that half understands what I do. She’s so positive about her new role and wants to make a difference, so I’m excited to see what she can do. I truly believe she’s going to be a valuable asset to her new team. There’s also going to be some great opportunities to work with her on a regular basis as well as we proactively encourage colleagues to get involved with community activities, especially volunteering.
Are there any positives having your daughter in the same organisation?
BW: Well, it was nice having another Westbury in the e-mail address book, but that will change in September when she gets married. I can advise her on how to get around and answer specific questions around how things work.
Describe what it’s like working in the same organisation as your dad?
LW: It’s great. We work in different buildings, so I don’t see him too often (thankfully). But he’s well respected around the business, which makes me so proud when people associate us with one another.
What advice would you give someone working at the same organisation as one of their parents?
LW: Enjoy it. I think you only start to appreciate how hard your parents have worked to give you a good life when you go to work in their world. So, appreciate them - and use their contacts!
What do you hope to achieve in your time here?
LW: I’d love to keep learning as much as possible. I am still young and have a long way to go, but I’m ready for the challenge and hope that my career at Experian will be as successful as my dad’s!
What one bit of advice you would give Laura that you wished you had been given at the beginning of your career?
BW: Build your network as this will help create opportunities in the future.