In our third Women in STEM interview we spoke to Rachel Davies, Business Intelligence Team Leader at Confused.com.
Rachel told us about the fast paced nature of the tech sector and how the industry is constantly evolving, making for an exciting career.
Tell us about your career and what’s led you to a role in data.
In school, I naturally leant towards the Sciences, and it led me to my degree in Mathematics. Unfortunately, I left University as the recession hit so there were few jobs opportunities – and no schemes- so I applied to anything that was Maths related. I eventually succeeded in getting a job at Principality Building Society where I worked in MI and Credit Risk for 7 years. I was extremely lucky to be faced with lots of opportunities while there, as it was an exciting time of regulation, development, modelling and optimisation.
I left Credit Risk, to work in Analytics at Which? Consumer Group, where I had the most fantastic mentor. I’ve worked in Analytics for 5 years now in varying roles, more recently managing Data Scientists and Analysts of various disciplines at Confused.com.
Did you face any barriers when building your career in data?
It’s reassuring to see that bias and equality are so talked about now, and have moved so rapidly in the right direction, especially in recent years. Confused.com specifically has many women in leading positions and endeavours to ensure there is workplace equality. In the past, I have witnessed, and experienced assumptions made about myself and others, comments made in the workplace either publicly or privately, sometimes based on gender, which were not correct or appropriate, and perhaps, were at points, detrimental to our careers. It is really important to challenge gender-based stereotypes and inherent biases.
How has the industry changed in recent years?
Tech moves so quickly. I remember when mobile phones were the new toy on the market, and now you get targeted messaging, campaigns, websites, apps, reporting, visualisations all built purposely for this device.
I think there is a higher drive towards predictive analytics and Data Science in the last few years, with automated responses and quick decisioning now expected by consumers. To support this there has been the rise of the tech to support it, numerous data lake platforms have emerged, coding platforms and languages to support them, and numerous visualisation tools as tech becomes smarter, and data more valuable.
What would you say are the main attributes required for someone to work in data?
A willingness to learn, an open mind and good communication. Things move and change quickly. Projects change trajectory, tech changes, new coding platforms become the most important, regulations change. Having the ability to stay calm and navigate these changes, recognise the benefits, identify solutions, and communicate with your teams and stakeholders, is invaluable.
Do you have any predictions around future industry trends?
I think data and data platforms will become more accessible, so automated solutions, predictive modelling and insights will become the norm across more sectors and companies, and this will mean more challengers and continued improvements for customer journeys. I think tech and platforms will develop further and we will see some exciting new products and automated solutions for customers.
What is the most rewarding part of a career in tech/data?
I don’t think you can ever get bored! You are constantly learning and developing your skill set, whether that’s on the market, or the tech or the coding, nothing sits still. Its all so fascinating. The amount you can gain from even a single data source, from the insight, the reporting, the visualisation, to the automated solutions, the new products you could develop is immeasurable. It opens a lot of doors and opportunities and is such an exciting space to be in
What advice would you give to other females looking to start a career in data?
There are great opportunities out there now, from graduate schemes to get you in the work place to varying roles in a wide variety of industries. Take every opportunity you are given but also look for all the opportunities you have. I have been extremely lucky with some of the breaks I have had, however, I have also worked extremely hard and looked for, suggested and sometimes pushed to get to where I wanted to go. Also look for inspirational mentors. They don’t have to be within your team but look at what makes them inspirational, look at their behaviours, their communication, their models, their code, and just take all the learning opportunities you can.
Another fantastic interview with an inspiring female who is thriving in a career in STEM. Thanks Rachel!
We’ll be launching the recruitment phase of our 2022 Fast Track Data/AI Graduate Programme very soon, watch this space!