I studied Finance at Loughborough University. After finishing my degree, I joined PwC Transaction Services’ graduate scheme in London in 2010. It was a great opportunity to work with private equity houses and management teams at a variety of UK businesses. In 2014, I joined Close Brothers as a strategic analyst, an internal consultancy role at a FTSE250 specialist financial lender. In 2016, I started to focus on data initiatives. It was an exciting and fast-developing area in the financial industry and we wanted to test whether it could generate commercial benefits for the bank. We ran several successful proof of concept initiatives with external data science teams in 2016 and 2017. At the end of 2017, we established a brilliant internal data science team, which I have led since.
Building a new data science team in an established business has been a very rewarding experience. From running proof of concept projects with external data scientists, putting an in-house team business case together to delivering our first project successfully has been an exciting journey. I had a lot of support from the Close Brothers leadership team along the way. And, as a result, we have a brilliant data science team that is delivering commercial value across the bank.
People with good business and technical skills are always in high demand. I’d advise myself to make sure I worked on both aspects. You need to have good technical skills and be ready to learn new ones. But commercial awareness and understanding the business you are part of is key.
I expect the data industry to further polarise in 2019. With industry leaders continuing to develop advanced tools and techniques. And the gap widening between the leaders and the rest. However, this should also lead to greater trickle-down effect of the advanced techniques. Combined with data and software companies that focus on user-friendliness this should lead to more powerful tools available to ever greater number of analysts across industries.
It is easy to have unrealistic expectations when recruiting in the field of data. Our approach was to recruit the highest potential candidates we could. And then work with the team to develop the skills required for the role. When you have very smart people in the team, they’ll pick new things up extremely quickly. Once you have a team, make it a great place to stay. Make sure there are plenty of opportunities to learn both soft and technical skills. Celebrate the achievements, have fun and don’t take hard work for granted.
We have powerful machines, great tools and a brilliant data science team. But we could always use more and better quality data. I look forward to working with new and innovative companies that will help us enrich our data with new data sources.