Mentor

Positive female role-models in the data industry

Mentor

By Sarah Robertson, Experian

I remember as a child how much I enjoyed maths. 

I was lucky enough to go to a primary school that positively encouraged me to progress in a subject that has traditionally led to male-dominated job roles. That early support, along with strong female role models in my family, helped me grow in a subject I love and shaped my career in data.

However, many statistics are telling us that there are thousands of skilled, innovative and talented women out there who aren’t even considering a career in STEM, let alone data.  It’s clear to me that more support is needed to empower and encourage a new generation into the data science industry.  I’m a firm believer that we need to start working with girls at an early age to help breakdown the stereotypes and obsolete views that certain professions are gender-specific.

Take my son’s infant school, for example.  When he left in July, the school played a video showing what each child wanted to be when they were older.  Each answer lived up to a gender stereotype. It made me question how and why this happens, even in the most progressive households.  As a collective group, we need to broaden our children’s minds on the possible.  STEM careers of the future will only be more exciting, more varied, more significant to our digital, technological and data-driven society.

It is also important that we start encouraging girls to take risks, the same way we do with boys.  Girls should be brave, not perfect.  STEM subjects tend to have a right or wrong answer in early education, and if girls are not brave enough to be wrong, then they won’t challenge themselves with STEM subjects.  We must teach our daughters that it is OK to take risks.  It is OK to be wrong.  It is OK to learn something new.

Part of encouraging the next generation also means recognising and celebrating the achievements of the female role models working in data today.  Role models like Maggie Aderin-Pocock, who can inspire others and show them that a career in STEM is possible.  Having the chance to hear from these inspirational figures, what they love about their jobs, how they got there, and what they’ve overcome to achieve success is crucial.  Their stories can inspire the women of tomorrow to follow in their footsteps and to blaze their own trails.

However, we can’t rely solely on these well-known role models to single-handedly change an entire generation’s thinking.  We all have a responsibility to be role models in what we do.  More and more businesses are creating closer links with schools, colleges and universities giving the perfect opportunity to support younger people considering certain careers.  This is hugely important for girls wanting to get into STEM.

We’re in a stronger position than we’ve ever been before in the data industry, supported by some fantastic initiatives – like M&S, who recently announced their intention to turn more than 1000 of their staff into data scientists.  This is a huge step in the right direction, potentially opening doors for more women to find their passion in data science.

Despite still having a long way to go, we have made significant progress redressing gender imbalance in STEM, supported by a strong and passionate community.  I’m excited to continue doing my bit to encourage a new generation of girls to become part of the data revolution.

Sarah Robertson featuredAbout the author

In the early stages of Sarah’s career there was a clear lack of female role models working in the data industry, so she made it her mission to support the women that worked in her teams, as well as her peers and friends within the industry.

After Sarah graduated, she was unsure of what career to pursue but felt at the time IT was her preferred choice. This led to a temporary contract with IBM working in IT, but she quickly learnt that it wasn’t for her and started exploring jobs in statistics. She landed a role with a marketing agency in their analytics division and absolutely loved it! It was then that analysing data to understand consumer behaviour became a passion of hers. That was over 20 years ago and she’s never looked back.

Sarah is keen to address the imbalance of men and women across our industry, she is heavily involved in the event Women in Data UK and contributing to her current business on recruiting more females into data roles.


Women in STEM

How to succeed in your technology career

Emma Maslen, UK MD at SAP Concur

It’s no surprise that 95 per cent of recruiters viewed a competitive personal brand as a key differentiator for attracting the best applicants in today’s workplace.

Personal branding is hugely beneficial on many levels: it makes you look connected, authoritative on a particular area and can help you build a strong network of like-minded contacts.

So not making the most of this opportunity and using it to your advantage to further your career would be a mistake. Especially in the fast-moving and competitive world of technology where the importance for you to be distinctive is even more critical.

Unfortunately, doing a good job and getting the recognition you deserve isn’t always the case in businesses. But, one way of helping you progress in your career and to stand out is by developing a personal brand.

For me personally, working in the technology sector for many years, building a personal brand has been an essential approach that really helped me to drive my career in the direction I wanted.

The good news is, it’s not rocket science and anyone can do it. Below are my four tips for getting started on nailing your personal brand.

Step one: Get your thinking hat on

Do you know where you want to be in one, two and five years’ time? It might sound far ahead but having some long-term goals set can keep you focused.

Working in the technology sector, it’s easy to think in the moment and not give too much thought to life later down the line. But without planning where you want to be in the future, how can you expect to ever get there?

No one is going to invest in your future but you. So, it’s time to take control of your future by giving it some serious thought. No one else will do it for you.

Step two: What do you want to be known for?

Once you’ve got your goals in place, select three words you want to become known for. A good place to start is thinking about what differentiates you from everyone else; don’t just opt for words that you think sound good. Most importantly, they need to be authentic.

For instance, if you want to be known as a ‘doer’, or a ‘closer’, don’t just start declaring yourself as that. Actions speak louder than words. You need to show people you are and prove it to them. One simple way of doing this is aiming to go to every meeting and show what you bring to the project at hand. This means no more shrinking in them – you won’t get that recognition as someone who has their act together otherwise.

One example of a techie who has built a sterling personal brand for herself is the computer scientist and academic, Dr Sue Black. She campaigned to save Bletchley Park – home of the World War Two codebreaker and now The National College of Cybersecurity – building a following of supporters and making a real change. She was genuinely passionate about it and people bought into that.

Step three: Start engaging

Once you’ve pinned down what you want to be known for, it’s time to start working towards building that perception.

Whether you like it or not, everyone has a digital footprint. Whether its photos on Facebook with your friends, you ranting on Twitter about public transport or sharing what Spanish tapas meal you had last week on Instagram. And this probably isn’t the sort of content you’d want potential employers, prospects or indeed your network to see.

So this next step is all about starting to create, share and engage with content which ties into the personal brand you’re looking to build for yourself – LinkedIn Pulse blogs and Medium are fantastic places to voice opinions. Or if you’re not a strong writer, there will plenty of communities whether that’s on LinkedIn or face-to-face networking meetups you can become part of.

Step four: Be patient

Whatever it is you want to be perceived as, make sure the tone of voice you select also suits your overall personal brand, whether that’s authoritative, engaging or concise. But the real secret in building a successful personal brand that sticks is all in consistency.

It takes a long time to build a personal brand – in fact, studies reckon it takes people five to seven times to remember a brand – and it requires real tenacity, but the benefits you’ll get as a result are certainly worth the initial effort.

The advantages of an individual investing in their personal brand and how they are perceived are obvious. But, why should companies be incentivised to encourage their employees to establish personal brands? It might, after all, lead to a head-hunter spotting and poaching your top talent.

With levels of trust towards businesses at an all time low, and statistics showing 92 per cent of people trust recommendations from individuals (even if they don’t know them) over companies. The benefits for employees being active on social media and crafting a credible personal brand for themselves are clear. In addition, 77 per cent of consumers are more likely to buy when the CEO of the business uses social media. This makes it a clear win-win for individuals and companies alike.


Online-Brand-Reputation

Starting an e-commerce business today: Here are six important things to consider

 

Online Personal Brand Reputation
Everyone wants to own an e-commerce business but not everyone puts in the effort to understand what exactly it is they are getting into.

Starting an e-commerce business for all the wrong reasons is the perfect recipe for failure. Same way not everyone is cut out to be a doctor is exactly how not everyone is cut out to be an entrepreneur.

If you want to start a business successfully and keep it successful, you need to do research to understand your strengths and weaknesses, identify what consumer needs you’ll be satisfying, the means through which you’ll satisfy said needs, and much more. Failing to take all these into consideration is why 50% of most businesses fail within five years of taking off.

If your goal is a successful ecommerce business you can be proud of, then you need to start by first considering these 6 important things.

Your team

Do you intend on going into the business solo or do you plan on working with a team? Each option comes with unique benefits and you should go for the one that will help you accomplish your long term goals faster. Going with a team can be advantageous if you pull together the right group of people with the right skills. But the wrong team can be expensive as well as ineffective.

Finances

Ecommerce businesses tend to cost less to start than a typical business. This is because the cost of certain overheads are unnecessary in an ecommerce venture. But even though it costs less, you still need to figure out an effective way to finance the start-up of your ecommerce enterprise and how you’ll get the money to keep it running.

Do you need a website?

In this present age and time, every business be it ecommerce or otherwise needs a website. As an aspiring e-commerce business owner, what you need to figure out is what sort of hosting service will best suit your business and what website design will serve you best. A mobile-friendly website is essential.

Target market

To craft your business for success, you need to identify the consumers who your services are aimed at. With this information, you can effectively tailor your ecommerce business to be more attractive to the customer base you have in mind.

Product

It’s smarter to identify what people want/need so as to offer them a product or service that satisfies their need. The alternative is to offer a product that nobody wants and then try to convince them that they need it. The former approach has a higher chance of success than the latter.

Competition

By identifying your competition, you will have a better understanding of your chances of success and can craft a business strategy to help you craft a niche for your business. Ignoring the competition can lead to your business being overshadowed and crushed by bigger brands before any notable success.

By taking all six of the above into consideration, your ecommerce business has not only a better chance of starting well but also a fighting chance of staying viable for a long time to come.


How the academia is reshaping the engineering scene

female engineer in ship yard, engineering
Image provided by Shutterstock
The engineering sector looks to the academic sector as the answer for a workforce that meets the demand of tomorrow, but the challenge to produce graduates that are automatically suited for the job is too large for one institution or industry alone to solve, which is why an academia, industry sector partnership is a formidable deal.

Academia and Industry based collaboration

The world's top engineering companies are being drawn to the educational sector as they seek to form a partnership that will provide for better approach to learning and influence better industry relevant skills. It is important to point out that a university education degree has to be fit for the future.

The engineering industry has been showing involvement in the academic sector by providing visiting teaching fellowships, performance based learning opportunities and access to research grants. This collaboration has resulted in a win-win situation for both the industries and the institutions as students get the opportunity to gain experience with globally recognised industrial brands.

With this system, industries gain access to research result and the knowledge of how to gain optimum productivity with innovative new methodologies, while students and faculty get insight into business and real life engineering challenges.

The number of research partnerships between engineering industries and academic institutions has increased drastically over the years. This is driven in part by companies need to maintain competitive edge by accelerating their innovative process, they do this by sponsoring specific research projects in universities.

This will make industries gain the much needed knowledge and expertise while the academic institutions will get the much needed funding, financial benefits and recognition.

Advantages of these Collaborative Relationships

There are numerous benefits that derive from Academia and Industry based collaboration, including benefits to the society, benefits to the universities, and benefits to the industries.

  • Society benefits: Society benefits from Academia and Industry based collaboration through innovative products and technologies. The result of Industry-sponsored university research is often developed into practical products and applications that benefit the society.
  • University benefits: Some universities seek industrial sponsorships because of the potential financial rewards gotten from patents and licenses that come from the commercialization of the results of academic research. This provides a means by which universities can decrease their reliance on governmental funding. Also, faculty members benefit through access to cutting-edge equipment not available in university.
  • Company benefits: Academia and Industry based collaboration can help stimulate companies' internal research programs. Academic researches help industries identify current research trends that might be useful for the design and development of innovative products and applications. This collaboration also helps to enhance a company's reputation. Sometimes, university and industry researchers will contribute to author articles and publications that describe research results. This can also serve as a PR tool by companies to add to their reputation in the society.

The engineering sector and the academic world are mutually interdependent on each other for new innovations and discoveries to meet the demand and resolve everyday problems in the society.

This collaboration has resulted into more and more students enrolling for engineering related courses in academic institutions and faculty members being better equipped to meet the demands of the job.