In a normal day, what kinds of data / analytics activities are you involved in?
As the Director of analytics, heading up the data science team, my day-to-day work is divided into three main areas: delivery, leadership, and innovation. In the delivery aspect of my role, I focus on providing machine learning and advanced analytics to clients in new and creative ways. This involves client discovery sessions, automation, machine learning models, and applications of AI. I collaborate with all divisions to embed analytics in various decision areas, including Market Mix Models for predictive and forward-looking media buying and cognitive science for research. Leadership is another key area of my role, where I lead my team to deliver on similar projects, provide support and guidance, and encourage autonomy and growth. I also invest significant time in promoting data literacy throughout the agency, offering individual training sessions and team wide learning sessions to the broader departments. I also spearhead a data science internship program for current university students teaching them the fundamentals of data science and exposing them to real world applications of their studies. Lastly, I focus on innovation, immersing myself in the industry and leveraging key advancements in the field to deliver unique product offerings to our clients. I conduct research, attend brain trusts and bring back best-in-class thinking to the agency. Every day, I challenge the status quo, asking how we can improve as a team, agency, and industry.
What are the biggest challenges you face?
Each day presents its own unique challenges, both personally and professionally. One of the most significant challenges I face in my professional life is keeping pace with the rapid and expansive changes in the analytics space. While it's incredibly exciting to be a part of such an innovative era, it can also be overwhelming. The phrase "staying ahead of the curve" now carries a whole new meaning. Clients, too, face similar challenges, as they are inundated with out-of-the-box solutions available in the market at a competitively low cost, which pose a threat to our bespoke offerings. It is an ongoing effort to help clients understand the benefits and limitations of both solutions and remain relevant in an ever-more autonomous field. One of the challenges I encounter with my team is how these developments affect their learning abilities. With some studies focusing on the production of analytics, such as Python packages, rather than the fundamentals, new graduates enter the workforce with more technical skills and fewer soft skills. Understanding how to run a model is one thing, but possessing the ability to comprehend what it conveys, why it does so, and how to add value for clients is a critical human quality that we must nurture. On a personal level, I challenge myself daily to learn and grow. Staying abreast of the latest trends and developments in my field and academic pursuits is essential to success. I recognize the significance of possessing the skills and abilities necessary to support my team fully. Additionally, in my industry, advertising, having a strong voice is imperative. Thus, I make it a personal challenge to voice my ideas, even when they differ from the norm, to ensure that my contributions are heard and valued.
What would be the proudest or most enjoyable moment in your analytics career?
I recently proposed and fought hard to set up an internship program at my organisation providing valuable hands-on experience to students. I attribute a lot of my success to the incredible men and women who mentored me throughout my career and gave me valuable learning experiences. In recognition of how I got to where I am, I wanted to do the same for the next generation and worked with our HR department to trial a university placement program. Knowing that I have played some small part in the growth of the next generation of analysts and data scientists makes me incredibly proud.
What advice would you give to a woman wanting to get into the analytics industry?
Analytics requires both knowledge and creativity. While technical skills are essential, the ability to find innovative ways to apply those skills is equally important. The most valuable analytics is built on a foundation of imagination. While analytics was once a male-dominated field, this is changing rapidly. The influx of women into the field has brought new perspectives and approaches, as these women are proud to embrace who they are. They speak up and challenge the status quo, knowing that every step they take forward paves the way for others like them. With that in mind, my advice to women wanting to get into the analytics field is this: be brave, be creative, stand up for what you believe in and always bring your unique self to every situation. Technical skills can be learnt, creativity is all you!
In terms of the future of analytics, what do you think will be the most interesting aspect/s?
Recent advances in the analytics field have been particularly intriguing, with a strong focus on the use of analytics for social good. The innovative applications of analytics in healthcare, education, sustainability, and social justice are just a few examples of how analytics is making a significant difference in the world. As a passionate advocate for positive change, I am excited to see how these advances will continue to evolve and lead to new and exciting ways in which the industry can make a positive impact on our future.