Payal is a Managing Director at JCURV, a management consultancy company whose mission is to increase the agility of UK PLC by helping companies radically change the way they leverage data. 

Previous to this, Payal has held several executive roles in the Banking and Finance industry for the last 18 years including Existing Customer Management and Loans Director at Vanquis Bank and Managing Director of Strategic Analytics at Barclays, responsible for all the analytics in the UK and European Credit Card and Lending division across 8 countries.

Payal is the Chair of Women in Data®, whose mission is gender parity in all data roles, especially at a senior level. In 2016, Payal was recognised as the most influential data professional in the DataIQ Top 100 leaders in the UK. In 2019, Payal was recognised in the HERoes Top 100 Women Executives in the UK and highly commended in the category of Digital and Technology in the Asian Women of Achievement Awards.

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

Having qualified with a maths degree and trained as a primary school teacher, I decided teaching wasn’t for me.  I landed my first role for a UK bank as an analyst supporting marketing activity.  I was hooked – I didn’t know these jobs existed, where I was able to drive commercial growth through the lens of data and tech.

Fast forward 25 years, and I am now one of the Managing Directors at JCURV, a boutique management consultancy that helps increase the agility of organisations.  I spend my time supporting Chief Data Officers (CDO) to help rapidly extract value from data and tech.  Having been a CDO myself, I loved the fact that you can add c.15-20% to top-line growth in the business from the lens of data and tech.  It’s all about being focused on the business outcomes and breaking down silos, creating the right culture and behaviours in an organisation to harness the power of technology.

I also sit on three Boards as an Independent Non-Exec (NED) for FinTechs and am Chair of Women in Data®, an organisation that seeks gender parity across all data and tech roles.

Life’s busy, however I do find time to travel. My ambition is to travel to more countries than my age. I’m currently in 66 countries (I will let you guess my age)! One of my favourite places in the world is a place called Sapa, in Vietnam.  We were deep in the foothills, trekking down to the local village when one of the locals said “Oh my god, she speaks” – they had never seen anyone with darker skin than themselves and thought I was an alien.  It’s always so humbling to experience these moments of innocence.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Honestly no.  If I had, I think I would be doing something very different.  I have found it’s good to have goals in life but to always be open-minded and explore doors that open along the way, as you never know where these paths may lead.  What’s the worst that can happen, try something out, if it’s not for you, pivot and move on.

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

Many!!!! In each instance, I have reverted to my family, network or mentors to get advice.  The one moment I did something differently, was when I didn’t get a promotion I thought was mine.  I asked the individual, who decided I wasn’t ready for the promotion, to be my mentor, as he could see a development area for me, that I couldn’t see myself.  One of the most pivotal moments in my career.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

Being Chair of Women in Data for the last 9 years, and helping grow the community to 60,000 people across the globe.  So much more to do, but having this responsibility to change the future of the industry is needed.

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

Being resilient and having a growth mindset is a must.

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

Always think about the business and customer outcome you are driving towards and how technology and data will contribute to that.

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

It is hard when you walk into a room, and you’re the only woman.  Don’t be afraid to speak up and share your thoughts, as your difference is your superpower.  We do need to lift all women around us, and allow for diversity of thought, to make sure we achieve gender parity in the tech and data industry.

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

Create the right environment to attract, promote and retain female talent.  We are in an era in which organisations are looking for diverse talent.  The question to ask is, what is it about your organisation that will help attract talent to come and join.

Currently, only 21 percent of those working in tech are women. 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? OR: In an ideal world, how would you improve gender diversity in tech?

I would love it if every girl and young person has a passion for tech, data and AI.  We need to start at grass roots to change things for the future. Inspiring young girls to consider a career in data is one of our passions! Our Girls in Data curriculum calls on the Women in Data® community to help educate and inspire the next generation of data professionals. We aim to fix the broken talent pipeline. The Girls in Data ‘Inspiration Sessions’ provide real training from data and tech experts across the industry. Last year, our curriculum reached 3,000 girls across the UK; this year we are aiming for 10,000. Our partner community drive the Girls in Data initiative and we are beyond excited to see where 2024 leads us!

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech, eg Podcasts, networking events, books, conferences, websites etc?

I will be biased, but please register for www.womenindata.co.uk and www.girlsindata.co.uk to find out more.  On 7 March 2024, we have our Women in Data flagship event – there will be 3,000 females and allies in the room talking about data, technology and AI.


Read more about our inspirational women here.