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Nirali Patel, chief data and analytics officer, AXA PPP Healthcare

Nirali Patel

Path to power

Health and data have been my passion for over 15 years. When I was a teenager, during my school holidays, I used to work in a local GP practice. It was just administration work, but I had an interest in health even then. At university, I studied computer science and learnt about modelling of information and automating processes and I began to wonder about the role of data in healthcare.

 

I started my career in a consultancy firm for the NHS, working on IT change programmes. I wanted to understand how different services could support someone’s health journey and make changes in their lives. Then in 2016, I began looking for a new opportunity that could bring healthcare and data together. That’s when I joined AXA. My current role, with a team of 70, pulls upon all my experiences and provides me with new ones. Throughout my career I’ve really enjoyed developing teams from varying backgrounds and leading business transformation through the lens of data.

 

What is the proudest achievement of your career to date?

The highlight of my career has been developing a new team here at AXA. I’ve enjoyed putting together a team of people who are passionate about data and seeing how much of a positive difference we can make as we provide clear, actionable insights to the business. As we continue to grow and transform, I’m proud of the can-do approach of my team, who are challenging the norm and delivering on what they say.

 

Who is your role model or the person you look to for inspiration?

Honestly, it’s my mum. She instilled a strong work ethic in me from early on. She taught me to be true to myself, reach for what I believe in and not to limit myself.

 

Did 2019 turn out the way you expected? If not, in what ways was it different?

No – it was much better. 2019 saw a lightbulb moment for AXA. It was the year we realised the true value of data and made it the core part of our business strategy. We had set out to become an independent centre of excellence, focused on data management and data science. However, it became clear that we needed to take ownership of the entire data journey – to look at how we capture and use data. In 2019, we began to integrate all the business intelligence teams across AXA, and we’ve grown to include governance, business intelligence and more advanced analytics.

 

What do you expect 2020 to be like for the data and analytics industry?

I’m expecting the data and analytics industry to grow, with a clear focus on enterprise-wide solutions, as businesses become more mature in the way they use and interpret data. I expect that there will be more partnerships being created around data, too. The ethical and regulatory components for advance data analytics will continue to be a theme over the coming year.

 

Data and technology are changing business, the economy and society – what do you see as the biggest opportunity emerging from this?

What is the biggest tech challenge you face in ensuring data is at the heart of your digital transformation strategy?

Our vision for the future is to produce clear, actionable insights with evidence behind them that can be used to make better decisions for the business. That means using more advanced techniques in data science, more storytelling and insight generation. Transforming to this way of working without delay is one of the biggest challenges that we face at AXA.

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