Ela OftadehEla Oftadeh has recently joined Middlesbrough-based Carbon data management platform and hope their stories can encourage other women to consider a career in technology.

Carbon uses Artificial Intelligence and machine learning to better understand online customer behaviour in order to help its customers personalise content and advertising for their audiences.

Every day, Carbon collects and analyses anonymous data from more than two million new unique users to understand customer behaviour and intent.

Ela Oftadeh is a KTP associate on a data science project collaboration between Carbon and Durham University. The Knowledge Transfer Partnership matches up businesses who want to innovate, develop and grow, with a university which has the expertise to help them.

Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role

I am aged 37 and have a PhD in Statistics from the University of Kent. I started my first job as a pricing analyst in 2018 with an insurance company.  I joined Carbon in December 2019. I am working as a data scientist (KTP Associate) for the company and also with an academic team at Durham University. Using machine learning methods such as classification and clustering, and Bayesian statistics where probability expresses a degree of belief in an event, my work using statistical modelling helps me to identify the right audiences from data analysis.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

During the final year of my PhD, I started thinking about my future career. I didn’t have a detailed plan for my career, but I had a clear goal which was becoming a data scientist.

Have you faced any career challenges along the way and how did you overcome these?

For someone who had just graduated, not having any experience in industry was a big issue. Most of the jobs were suitable for someone with some experience. I had to spend some time to do some self study and learn some of the skills.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

Since I am in the very beginning of my career path and I am still learning, so I think it’s too soon to answer this question. I think at this stage having a job that you enjoy is the best achievement. Carbon is a great environment to work in and I am really enjoying being surrounded by very supportive and skilled people. The job itself is also a great opportunity to potentially put what I have learnt so far into practice.

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success? 

I’ve always tried to keep going and not give up when it gets hard. A KTP project is a good career start for someone who has graduated as it fills the gap between industry and university in terms of exploring a theoretical field within industry.

Longer term, I would like to improve my skills in data science as much as I can to be able to explore more complicated areas and hopefully secure more senior positions.

What top tips would you give to an individual who is trying to excel in their career in technology?

As already outlined, I am still in my early stages of my career, but as a learner, I think staying up to date and keep learning to keep up with the technology advancement.

Do you believe there are still barriers for success for women working in tech, if so, how can these barriers be overcome?

There are fewer women than men in this industry so hopefully my story can inspire other women to join. I can’t really see any barrier for women. There are a lot of opportunities out there for everybody and I think the main thing is getting the right skills and go for it.

What do you think companies can do to support and progress the careers of women working in technology?

I think for those who have families, it would help a lot if there is an opportunity to work remotely. Having flexible working hours will also be helpful.

There is currently only 17% of women working in tech, if you could wave a magic wand, what is the one thing you would do to accelerate the pace of change for women in the industry?

Having career events at universities would be a great way of introducing the job market. Students may not have a clear idea about their future career but attending career events and talking to people in different areas may give them a new perspective about opportunities.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

It really depends on the area that they work. I actually started this job a month ago and I don’t have enough information yet. I think in data science, online courses and using useful websites like data science central could be useful.