Path to power
I began by working for the insurance arm of one of the big four banks as a strategy underwriter, after graduating from university with a Mathematics and Management degree. I then progressed through two underwriting roles at Domestic and General before being presented with the opportunity to break into the data industry via an MI manager role. Following success in this position, I was promoted to the head of MI, a role which introduced me to financial planning and analysis, where I was subsequently tasked with putting together and heading up a new pricing team.
After a company restructure, I was faced with a choice between continuing in MI or focusing more on the analytical side of the industry as the head of data science and customer analytics. Data science felt more of a natural progression towards where my passion lays, as it gave me the chance to focus on both customer and marketing analytics, as well as pricing.
What has been the highlight of your career in the industry to date?
I would have to say it was my collaboration with external consultants in researching, planning and, finally, establishing a dedicated pricing team - something which was unprecedented at D&G at that point - before going on successfully to head up that team and seeing it move the business forward as I envisaged. Being granted the resource for something I truly believed in and seeing that justified in the form of the benefit it gave to the company gave me a great feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment.
What do you expect 2018 to be like for the data and analytics industry?
In my opinion, it would be further progression towards the establishment of AI and machine learning in day-to-day industry business functions.
So - why did you choose data?
Choosing data presented me with a convenient vehicle to combine and carry forward both my passion for numbers and my hunger for a challenge. When used by an analytical mind, data is a tool which can be used to solve a variety of complex problems and provide solutions to challenges faced by businesses across many industries.
What is the best thing about working in the data industry?
A new challenge every day, using numbers to make a difference and also the privilege of working with some truly inspiring minds.
If you were granted one wish to change something about the data industry, what would it be?
I would like to see more people adopting a blank canvas mentality, allowing data the freedom to show findings which are based on empirical evidence. This is opposed to starting with - and being guided by - unsubstantiated or outdated preconceptions.
What advice would you give to somebody thinking of a career in this sector?
Be aware that the industry you are about to move into is extremely dynamic and fast-paced. Because of this, you must stay on your proverbial toes and be prepared to have to adapt to change at a moment's notice.