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Natalie Jakomis, Group head of data, GoCompare

Path to power

 

Natalie has an impressive track record in the world of data and technology. She has been head of data at Dwr Cymru Welsh Water, where she successfully embedded a cultural change in data and transformed how the business approached data science and data governance by creating strong foundations for the future. As group head of data at GoCompare, Natalie oversees GoCompare’s data engineering, data science and data intelligence teams and leads on the data strategy for the business, engineering the organising of data, as an activity, a business function and a capability. Natalie made the 2018 Women in Data/Female Lead “Twenty in data and technology” list and is a role model for diversity by being a STEM ambassador and working with different tech industry groups to get more women in data. Natalie possesses a unique skill set, which combines a wide range of business, technical and softer skills, including strong communication and the ability to connect with all stakeholders. She is an accomplished speaker and panellist at high-profile, data-focused conferences and is a member of various data and tech meet-ups, including AI Wales, Google Development Group and MSFT Stack. She is an accomplished data leader who understands and is an advocate of data, and her career has repeatedly proven data’s impact on business performance and innovation.

 

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

 

There isn’t one highlight that I can single out. However, a few key highlights include making the 2018 Women in Data/Female Lead “Twenty in data and technology” list, which celebrated inspirational female role models who are helping to transform the world in data and technology. Another highlight includes enabling Dwr Cymru Welsh Water to become a top data leader in the UK. Plus, landing the role of group head of data at GoCompare is a significant highlight - a visionary and cutting-edge business with a hugely respected brand and profile. I’m super excited to be able to drive business outcomes and successfully progress a shared vision through better use of data and technology.

 

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

 

The piece of advice I would offer is to force yourself outside of your comfort zone. Take risks and be confident in your skills. At times, it will be difficult and a long hard trek, but perseverance and resilience are key. Do not give-up or say no. If something appears to be impossible, it is probably the very thing that you should be doing.

 

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

 

Yes, 2018 was an interesting and choppy year. For each technological innovation, there’s been a host of complex news stories about data leaks, high profile hacks and breaches, plus new laws and legislations that help us redefine how we use technology.

 

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

 

Data, analytics and technology have played a large role in 2018, and it also seems to be a turning point. While there has been a greater number of threats from data, technology has been embraced more than ever before. 2019 looks a bigger and brighter year for the data and technology landscape, with easier access to data combined with smarter technology and the rise in utilising data for social good by securely sharing data and insights to achieve common goals and make the world a better place.

 

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

 

My organisation is committed to nurturing existing talent, as a well as growing the tech community in Wales. The GoCompare Group has recently launched the GoFurther academy, which offers a range of programmes including sponsorships, graduate schemes, internships, apprenticeships and work placements. And we have also invested in the Welsh data science graduate programme, which gives top talent the added incentive to build their careers in the Welsh data science sector.

 

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

 

Doing more with less through meta learning – improving the way machine learning systems actually work by running machine learning on machine learning systems, allowing a machine learning algorithm to learn how to learn. Plus, quantum computing that can run much more complex computations and, finally, digital twins – a layer of abstraction that allows us to better understand what’s happening at the edge without needing to go into the detail of the system.
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