Hastings’ partnership with Women in Data offers great opportunities for our colleagues who work in, or aspire to work in data. We value the expertise of our data professionals, yet we recognise we need to do our part to bring more gender balance to the industry.
Celebrated earlier this week, International Women’s Day is a great opportunity to highlight our commitment to recognising and supporting women in the industry, building a more diverse pool of data professionals, and changing the profile of the industry over time. Our colleague Joanne, Head of Data Governance, tells us more about her career in data...
I studied History and Sociology as a joint degree at university
When I left university there weren’t many roles in the market, and what I wanted to do required experience, which of course you’ve not got when you’ve just finished education. I took a few temporary roles (which is a great way to get into an organisation) and fell into Finance, working my way up through junior roles and learning from experienced colleagues to find my way. I have mostly worked for financial institutions, from Japanese trading houses to Asset Managers and Retail Banking. This is my first time working in insurance and in my field it’s quite rare to have experience in multiple areas within the finance world. My advice would be to not be afraid to move into different areas and go outside of your comfort zone. When I first moved into retail banking, it didn’t make a lot of sense to me - the jargon was new, the remit was different, but I gained valuable insight.
My role was to try to break the system
During an early role, I was tasked with running a project for a brokerage system, that role required creating test scenarios for the system and performing those tests. My role was to try to break the system, and to come up with multiple ways users might do something and to see what reaction the system would give. My role also included collaborating with the system designers which was great experience. I had to explain what did and didn’t work and ensure that the product would suit the users and technical design mutually. This was my first foray into working with technical colleagues who didn’t always view the product in the same way as the business user.
An interest in problem solving and understanding how others work has helped in my career
Understanding people’s pain points, speaking with others and collaborating have all been great skills throughout my career. Knowing how to use the Microsoft suite has also been crucial. I was lucky enough to attend a presentation course early on in my career, that is a great skill to have.
If something isn’t working why wouldn’t you try to improve it?
My university degree required an ability to write about complex topics, I have always been an avid reader and I think I’ve used my reading and writing skills frequently. In my first year I had a mandatory course in statistics which I found I had a natural ability for. I take pleasure in fixing things, if something isn’t working why wouldn’t you try to improve it? I moved into data management once I had tried a few roles, all requiring attention to detail.
From my point of view there is no one fixed way pursue a career in data
A good way to get into data is via projects as you learn a process from the start to the end, learning how things are put together and where they can go wrong was a great foundation. Practical hands-on experience is often a plus, especially where that experience is critical to decision making in change. If you have skills from your education or work experience which are like the role you want to move into for data, highlight how and why that is. Be ready with your experience even if it is far reaching. If you can make it fit, then those you are speaking with will be able to see the link.
Data should be an environment that is open to all capable candidates regardless of gender
It is not uncommon to find myself as the only woman in a meeting or representing data at an event. Whilst I view colleagues and peers as individuals, rather than reducing them to their gender type, and they hold their roles, as do I, due to their experience and education, there is a deficit of women in the finance industry where I learnt my trade, and within data where I now preside. More women working in data is about promoting data as an option. I would like to demonstrate that if I can do it, you can. However, I do not agree that a role should be given to a candidate due to their gender, the ask is that there is an opportunity for whoever wants the role and can do the role to be given that chance. It is important that an equal playing field is attained to do this.
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