My first job was working in the library department of a local health organisation. The library was tasked with providing the population with information on health services, such as surgery opening hours, contact telephone numbers etc. The information was all stored manually on cue cards. That gave me an idea - we should start to store the data electronically on a database and make it available, self-serve, to the local population. This was at a time when databases such as MS Access were becoming available.
The idea was a success and groundbreaking at the time. That started my career path into the use of data to provide knowledge and insight. I worked for 15 years in the NHS and then left to join a start-up organisation called Health Dialog, which provided advanced analytics to the health service and subsequently health insurers when it was purchased by BUPA.
I worked for BUPA for six years and that gave me the opportunity to work in overseas territories. Then, three years ago, I joined Lloyd’s of London to drive data innovation and data science forward for the corporation and the Lloyd’s insurance market.
In my team at Lloyd’s we have the mantra “data is for everyone”. Being able to spread the positive message to all staff at Lloyd’s and the market about the exciting business insight you can uncover if you analyse and describe data in an engaging way has been great to lead and experience. So much so that we now have a waiting list of staff wanting to join our non-technical data science course.
Sadly, my father passed away recently and he was and indeed still is my inspiration. He provided lots of wise advice that has kept me grounded. He always reminded me that you “are only as good as your team lad”.
2019 was a year of great change for my role at Lloyd’s, during which time it introduced the Future at Lloyd’s (FAL) programme and created the Blueprint One document, which describes a vision for Lloyd’s that has at its core a data-driven digital future. I was very proud to be involved in a team of experts that designed and wrote the content for FAL.
2020 is going to be another year of exciting opportunities. With technological advances in software capability, ever faster processing power, the increasing availability of high quality open data-sets and the easy access to smart software at low cost in cloud based services it really does make for an exciting set of opportunities for the data and analytics industry to demonstrate value to business, government and academia. I hope that the industry will continue to be an enticing place for emerging talent to want to come and join and forge a career.
I am an optimist. Although there is much media negativity about the use of data - our data - I want to work to ensure and demonstrate that with appropriate controls, consent and governance in place the use of data with smart software can improve our lives for the better. Whether the data is used to improve the health of the nation or to enable access to cheaper, more affordable services for the population, such as insurance cover to protect you from a major environmental catastrophe, data has to be a force for good.
I am in the fortunate position that Lloyd’s has recognised the importance of placing data at the core of its future. The biggest challenge from a technical perspective is that we must continue to apply high quality data standards across the Lloyd’s market. The technology that supports a data ecosystem that evolves from FAL must support innovative new businesses that want to place their business with Lloyd’s and then enables those businesses to excel through the use of data and analytics we can provide to them.