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Tamara Castelli, vice-president, data and insight, UNiDAYS

Tamara Castelli

Path to power

I started my career on the graduate scheme at Capgemini Consulting as an associate consultant in the analytics team. During my time, I was promoted twice to a senior consultant. From there, I became insight manager at Channel 4 on a newly formed team to deliver data science solutions. I then went to YOOX Net-A-Porter as data science and analytics manager, where I was tasked with setting up a global data and analytics team. And today, I lead the data architecture and engineering, business intelligence, insight and analytics, research and data science teams at UNiDAYS and own the company’s data strategy. I’m driving the company’s change as it develops its data-driven capabilities and leverages the power of data to create innovative products for its students and partners.

 

What is the proudest achievement of your career to date?

I am most proud of the development of the data and insight team at Unidays. During my first year there, I led an overhaul of our data systems which automated more than 150 hours of manual work, freeing up the team to help shape the business’ direction through the development of new insights and metrics.

 

This has not only opened new revenue opportunities, but has also contributed to the organisation restructuring around insight-based opportunities in the market. It was this work that led me to win IT Leader of the Year at the 2019 Women in IT Excellence Awards.

 

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

I can’t narrow it down to a single individual, but I highly respect people who make change happen, particularly in difficult situations where the odds are not in their favour to succeed. I am inspired by the courage and perseverance it takes to deliver on their vision.

 

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

I expected more fallout from GDPR. While there have certainly been high profile cases of mishandling, there haven’t been as many as I anticipated. We were all challenged with implementing GDPR and have made the relevant changes in our usage and management of data, but the adjustments have been more of an evolution for those who already operated at a high standard.

 

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

Recruitment of talent has always been a challenge in the data and analytics industry. With the investment of data programmes at universities, I expect to see more and more data professionals entering the job market. But as the discipline matures, I’ve noticed more of my recent conversations around the appropriate naming of data roles - rather than the generic data scientist, who is expected to deal with any type of data problem. As organisations become more educated about different data science capabilities, I expect to see more refinement in these role profiles.

 

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

We have seen so many areas where data and technology are improving everyday living; whether it is car cameras and sensors to keep us safe on the roads, or devices to measure our physical activity to help us stay healthy. However, there is a fine line between these technologies’ intended purpose and the concern of “Big Brother”. I hope the increased focus on a data ethics’ framework will support increased fair and transparent data capture, which in turn will allow more of these technologies to improve day-to-day living.

 

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

Unidays has strong tech capabilities and is continually reviewing and investing in its technology infrastructure to maintain agility and speed of development. However, with this, we need to make sure we have a strong data governance and framework in place to ensure the integrity of data throughout our tech evolution, to keep our data a valuable asset to us.

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