I began my career at Deloitte, after graduating from the University of York. I then landed a dream job, helping to deliver the London 2012 Olympics. Over a four-year period, I was part of the team who recruited and managed the 200,000 workforce needed to make the Games happen.
After the Games, I set up the Mayor of London’s Team London initiative. This involved the mobilisation of one million volunteers and more than 2,000 schools – backed by 1,800 charities and over 100 businesses. It all culminated with London being named European Volunteering Capital.
I moved on to become chief operating officer of The Careers & Enterprise Company, helping it to grow from a £6 million to £30 million a year operation. This further sparked my interest in tech and data. I spearheaded the development of a digital user-driven product to support school career assessments, planning and delivery. The “Compass tool” was adopted by more than 3,000 schools in only nine months. From here, I became CEO of Profusion.
Throughout my working life, volunteering has been key to helping me progress, enabling me to support causes about which I’m passionate and develop a broader range of skills to get to the next stage of my career.
Team London probably wins it for me. I really didn’t know how I would meet the scale of ambition when we launched, or how I would persuade charities, funders, businesses, schools and individuals to join us. To reach every school in London, mobilise 1 million volunteers and have charities and businesses approaching us (not me chasing them) within three years, felt like real success. Beating ten cities to be European Volunteering Capital was the icing on the cake and I love that years on, many of the programmes and events the team and I set up are still in action.
I don’t really take inspiration from famous people, but rather great people I’ve worked with. Each one has taught me countless lessons about how to manage people, navigate politics, run businesses and much more. Two women who both inspired me and taught me a lot are Jean Tomlin and Veronica Wadley.
Does it ever? Becoming CEO of Profusion wasn’t something I had planned in January 2019 but when it happened, I was thrilled. Being able to lead a progressive data science company when data science is top of every company’s agenda is a brilliant opportunity. In 12 short months, we’ve won new clients, built new partnerships, made some great hires, initiated some pioneering new projects and are well on our way to starting a data academy to train the next generation. It has been a tough, busy but exhilarating year and I’m very excited to see what 2020 will bring.
Artificial intelligence will continue to dominate. There has been much media attention, and subsequently business interest in exactly how it can be effectively used. As consumers increasingly feel the impact of AI areas such as marketing and customer service, we’re going to see more debate about its ethical use. The industry must be proactive in ensuring that transparency, security and data privacy is kept top of mind.
As people look to do more with AI, they will realise they ignore data architecture and BI at their peril, and so we should see increased investment in data infrastructure.
Automation has the biggest potential to change how we live and work. Creating the foundation of these automated processes will be the data science industry’s job. Given the substantial cost efficiencies, every organisation will be interested. It can become a large and lucrative new sector but is, of course, a double-edged sword. Professions will cease to exist, however, from there, new career paths will emerge, much like what was experienced during the industrial revolution. How this transition is managed by governments and businesses will be a defining issue of the 21st century. This is why we offer programmes retraining our clients’ workforces.
Two stand out – data infrastructure and organisation-wide expertise.
Data architecture can be perceived as complex and expensive without obvious ROI and thus deprioritised, leaving digital transformations wanting in delivering desired outcomes. Things are improving. Technology has reduced prices and eased implementation and more leaders are recognising effective data science or digital transformation needs an excellent data architecture and BI foundation.
Organisations must get better at giving their whole team the tools and training to use data effectively. You cannot just execute a digital transformation or data science project. Data must be a common currency that every person understands and uses to take the next best action.