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Elizabeth Hollinger, Head of analytics and BI, Aggreko

Elizabeth Hollinger.jpg

Path to power

 

I studied maths and stats at university and always loved trying to understand patterns of information in large sets of data. I began my career in the insurance industry, joining Aegon and studying to become an actuary. From there, I joined Deloitte in the actuarial consulting team and started to focus on analytics in insurance. Through that time, I gained exposure to other teams and projects and enjoyed the challenge of working across a variety of industries with different sets of data, communicating the messages contained within them and making a real impact on decision-making. I then moved into the analytics team at Deloitte, leading our analytics work across the public sector, helping it to use data to solve business problems. I am now head of analytics and BI for Aggreko, where I lead a team of business analysts and data scientists who use data to drive value across the business. I work with the business to identify areas where data could add significant value, building collaborative project teams and finding innovative ways of leveraging our data towards successful solutions. In addition, I am responsible for Aggreko’s information governance framework to ensure that insights are trustworthy, credible and actionable. I have a passion for helping people understand the value of data, communicating complex ideas in a simple way to enable effective insight-driven decision-making.

 

What has been the highlight of your career in the industry to date?

 

I am fortunate to have many highlights in my career to date and the common theme across them are the great people I have had the pleasure of working with. From the coaches and mentors who helped kick-start and support my career in data to the great teams I have worked with throughout the years. I’m delighted now to lead my own analytics team, supporting them to grow and develop in their data careers. And a recent highlight was speaking at DataTalent Scotland and seeing so many new and enthusiastic data scientists ready to join the industry!

 

If you could give your younger self some advice about how to progress in this industry, what would it be?

 

Be curious! The world of analytics constantly changes - it’s what makes it such an exciting place to work. So, ask questions and have enthusiasm for learning, seeking out interesting people who can help you learn more.

 

Did 2018 turn out the way you expected? If not, in what ways was it different?

 

2018 saw a swathe of negative press around data and analytics, with the investigation of Cambridge Analytica and its use of personal data to influence political campaigns. This news came to light around the same time as GDPR came into effect, a regulation which aims to strengthen the ways in which personal data can be collected and used. Although the regulation was expected, the data breach will have been a surprise to many and just strengthens the case for strong regulation in the analytics space to keep up with the pace at which data and technologies are growing.

 

What do you expect 2019 to be like for the industry?

 

In 2019, I expect we will continue to see a growth in innovation and adoption of advanced analytics across industries. To build and enhance trust in advanced analytics, we will see a greater focus on ethics, developing analytical products with strong ethical governance to make sure the power of data is used in a fair, transparent and appropriate way.

 

Talent and skills are always a challenge to find - how are you tackling this in your organisation?

 

We deliver our analytics projects in collaborative teams of business owners and data scientists, working together in an agile way. Taking this approach means that we bring together the right business knowledge and technical skills to be able to understand the context of the data and exploit its value. Working in this way has led to up-skilling of some of our business owners in analytical techniques and, equivalently, given our data scientists a deep understanding of our business.

 

What aspect of data, analytics or their use are you most optimistic about and why?

 

I’m optimistic about the impact analytics will have on social good and improving public services. We have already seen examples of the use of AI to predict medical conditions and prescribe the right treatment, leading to better outcomes. As the use of analytics continues to grow, I’m looking forward to seeing what more we can do as data experts to make a positive contribution to society.

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