Ever since school, I wanted to “get into” technology. I studied a degree and Master’s in Information Systems and Technology, and started my career in the private sector, crossing into the public sector when I joined Camden Council. During my 12-year tenure in Camden, I have gained a wealth of experience, including web development, managing programmes and projects, running operational teams, leading a business relationship service before landing senior leadership positions as head of business intelligence and head of data, analytics and connectivity. Although data has been pivotal to various roles throughout my career, the work I have led to develop a vision for Camden that is data-enabled has particularly allowed me to understand the “art of the possible” and the wider opportunities around data as a sector. I have always been passionate about the role digital and data can play in our lives and working within the public sector provides me with opportunities to help shape and deliver better services and outcomes for residents and communities.
A couple of highlight moments - going up to accept Digital Leaders’ Digital City of the Year award in 2017 on behalf of Camden, more recently winning Data Leader award at Data Talks and generally having had the opportunity to lead such an inspiring and upcoming area of data as part of the evolution of data within public sector services. (I say evolution, rather than revolution as it’s been a journey over time!)
I am very values-driven and believe as part of our professional as well as personal lives that certain values are essential. For example, being more emotionally intelligent is something that a younger self could have massively benefitted from.
2018 was great for the industry and for working in and around an industry that is evolving exponentially. We saw the rise of data being compared to oil, a fourth industrial revolution and countless other comparatives to establishing a truly amazing sector. It is early days for data as a sector, though, with the emergence of some gaps being at an immature state, eg, looking at development of skills and standards (something which we are keenly pursuing at Camden) and data literacy campaigns across industries.
2019 should be very exciting for the data industry. 2018 revealed how data is establishing as a sector and, in 2019, this should continue to take shape as more of us have a data-enabled vision and start to introduce within organisations ways that data can shape better outcomes and services. I would also like to see more collaboration and diversity, eg, more public sector organisations collaborating on initiatives or learning from other sectors. A personal aspiration is also to see a campaign promoting diversity in data. (Our communities and residents we work for are diverse and so should be the workforce.)
We have had a vision to “grow our own” talent for some time and this has worked very successfully. Alongside this, we are working on a number of fronts to introduce a talent pipeline: a) working with universities such as UCL who bring in students who possess fresh perspective as well as latest techniques and knowledge; b) developing a graduate leadership programme; and c) providing opportunities for apprentices focused on data. In addition, we also work with a number of experienced partners who provide us a flexible capacity and pace.
I believe data has great potential for helping to transform public services, enabling residents and communities to receive better services. As we enter into an increasingly data-centric world, I hope this will start to become a reality (within an ethical canvas).