Rachel Keane

Rachel Keane is a veteran recruiter with over 15 years’ experience in the industry, and a co-founder of Women in Data (WiD) UK, an organisation that aims to achieve gender parity in the field of data science and analytics.

Rachel enjoys pushing boundaries, asking questions and is passionate about liberating people from their societally-imposed boxes to realise their full potential. This drives Rachel to work tirelessly for the promotion of female participation in the sciences, in particular the field of data science and analytics.

As a fundamentally creative person, Rachel pursued a Bachelor of Arts with Honours at Nottingham Trent University where she dreamt of a career at Karen Millen but was beaten out by candidates with a stronger grasp of mathematics! Without letting this impede her, she focused on her strengths and decided to tackle bigger challenges outside of the fashion world, armed with motivation, people-centric values and attention to detail. She embarked on her journey as a recruiter and communications expert and thrived in this fast paced environment.

Some of Rachel’s notable accomplishments with WiD UK includes 2 invitations to 11 Downing Street in recognition of the work done by WiD, and interviews with BBC South Today. She mentors young women in their careers and speaks at schools to cultivate a love for STEM in children. She is excited about the launch of her new project Girls in Data UK in January 2020 and the collaboration with RANKIN.

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

My name is Rachel Keane and I have been working in the data and analytics recruitment space as a Managing Consultant for Datatech Analytics for the last 11 years. Five years ago, Roisin McCarthy and I co-founded Women in Data, an initiative that connects, equips and inspires women in an industry that is still so desperately under represented with women. Our community has grown exponentially, along with our ideas and ambitions for gender parity in this sector and it is a project that we are incredibly proud to have created and watch grow year on year – To register free, please visit www.womenindata.co.uk

My commercial background prior to Datatech Analytics was always in a sales based role, cementing that the fact that talking too much at school (a comment frequently mentioned by teachers at parents evening!) did lend itself to the commercial world. This coupled with a natural thirst and curiosity (some call nosey) to learn, helped me build successful client relationships and started me on the stepping-stone to a successful relationship based career.

Growing up, I enjoyed two things….talking (a lot!) and being creative making things. I studied a BA Hons in Knitwear Design at Nottingham Trent, spending my placement year working on the M&S account via Courtaulds Knitwear and was lucky enough to spend some time in Hong Kong meeting new and existing suppliers.

Women in Data has allowed me to combine my two passions; a love of connecting with people and building an industry recognised network. Whilst focusing on the creative strategy overall. The Twenty in Data & Technology role model series is a project that I lead and am passionate about. I am always so excited every year meeting the new awardees, learning of their journey’s and the outstanding work they are delivering in industry. The nominations for this are open until Friday 28th August, so please do nominate or self-nominate for 2020’s campaign.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

My original plan was to be a buyer for Karen Millen, but my lack of mathematical skills brought that to an abrupt halt! Ironically, I have spent the last decade placing numerical geniuses in job roles!

I believe that on occasion your career finds you….and that the unique skills you have should never be underestimated.

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

Everyone faces challenges, with mine being self-confidence. Being a single mum for the last 15 years, I always felt that I had to over achieve to be taken seriously. Something I later learnt was in my head and no one else’s! I overcame this by investing in a smaller trusted network of people that I have met along the way in my career to guide and mentor me and make me pause and recognise my achievements to date, and taking time to appreciate the present without blindly running into the future.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

Attending an event at Downing Street for International Women’s Day in both 2017 and 2018 and being a guest on Women’s hour radio show.

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

Belief! In myself and from others……when you believe in yourself, anything is possible.

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

To network and build a community for yourself of all levels of seniority and ask questions. In a field that is, forever evolving it is so important to keep up with what is going on by attending industry seminars and events. It is amazing how many people love to help you answer those questions!

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

We know you can’t be what you can’t see….Women in Data introduced a sub initiative four years ago, called “Twenty in Data & Technology” This project has recognised sixty ambassadors to date across all levels of seniority and data disciplines and has been instrumental in making role models accessible across industry. Encouraging industry to celebrate successful women is paramount – opening up the doors for more women to walk through.

Educating girls early about careers in data and technology is hugely important and inspired me to launch Girls in Data in early 2020. This platform to inspire students, teachers and parents of the wonderfully diverse careers in data is such a rewarding project and has a number of exciting projects in development stages currently.

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

Listen! If we know what women need (everyone’s are different) we can help them succeed in industry.

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?

Remove imposter syndrome from all women and watch them fly!

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

Joining communities and relevant networks are imperative to building contacts and confidence. So join the Women in Data community now!

I personally would recommend reading material such as; Let it Go – Dame Stephanie Shirley, A good time to be a girl – Helena Morrissey and The Power of Choices – Janine Woodcock.

WeAreTheCity has a back catalogue of thousands of Inspirational Woman interviews, including Professor Sue Black OBE, Debbie Forster MBE, Jacqueline de Rojas CBE, Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon MBE and many more. You can read about all our amazing women here