female data scientist, woman leading team

Why women should consider analytics as a career path

female data scientist, woman leading team

Louise Lunn, Vice President, Global Analytics Delivery, FICO discusses why building a career in analytics will lead to purposeful engagement, meaning and motivation.

There has never been a better time for women to be part of the technology industry.

Powered by advancements in computing and AI, there are now huge opportunities to solve interesting problems at a global scale. This opportunity, combined with the momentum to build a diverse workforce, makes it a truly exciting time to be part of the analytics industry. In fact, the data scientist has been called “the sexiest job of the 21st century” by Harvard Business Review.

The coronavirus outbreak caused widespread concern and economic hardship for consumers, businesses, and communities across the globe. It also accelerated digital transformation, the use of open banking data and the adoption of AI in financial services.  The focus within the financial services industry switched to digital transformation programmes. The use of data and analytics by businesses was also expanded to improve understanding of customer circumstances through both good and bad times, with the aim of winning loyalty and achieving profitability.

Data science teams play a fundamental role, responding to the critical need for banking systems to make excellent decisions in an automated fashion. For example, banking scams have been climbing during the pandemic, due to the growth in real-time payments from debit accounts. FICO data analysts used AI and machine learning to develop analytic models that specifically focus on identifying abnormal payment transactions in real time, to help curb fraud.

Creating a positive experience and prioritising customer experience and personalisation is so important in the current climate and analytics teams are fundamental to this function to ensure relevant and non-conflicting offers, treatments and messages are sent. And the growth of data means the door is pushed even wider for those looking for a career path in this field.

The job functions that build an analytics team vary from data scientist, data architect, data analyst, to data engineer. Within these roles you’ll find a whole host of specialties, such as:

  • The Algorithm Guru – understands the variety of choices for the breadth of tasks
  • The Architect –ensures that the infrastructure can manage large-scale datasets and ensure things run fast!  Strong computer science and software knowledge.
  • The Data Modeler – building the models
  • The Deep Diver – analyse the data/models to extract key insights
  • The Storyteller  – is needed to articulate the insights (from the cutting-edge analysis)
  • The Cat Herder – keeps everyone together and on track with where they should be

For anyone thinking about data science as a career route, the opportunities are immense. These roles are an offshoot of several traditional technical roles, including business domain expertise, mathematicians, scientists, statisticians, and computer professionals.  All these different jobs fit into the disciplines of a data scientist.

With large-scale data within organisations and growth within analytics teams, there are so many elements that make working in analytics feel purposeful. I feel grateful to be in a position to attract and retain the stars of the future in analytics and software. I enjoy giving people the opportunity to grow and develop, and then watching them go on to achieve great things. My role allows me to cultivate engagement, meaning, and motivation with my team and clients as we solve problems through data and analytics.

Within FICO we have an excellent support network through groups such as [email protected] – a community available to women at all levels, designed to enable structured information/experience sharing, education, and professional networks.  Led by a steering committee of women leaders representing our various business units and geographies, it gives us many opportunities to get involved and further our network globally.

The key thing for women looking to take the first step into analytics or for those looking to develop their roles is to try working in different areas within the field and seize any opportunity to acquire a new skill or programming language.  Stay determined, work hard and never be afraid to voice your opinion. FICO creates an environment that fosters learning, improvement, and success, and I’ve always appreciated that!

Louise LunnAbout the author

Louise Lunn leads FICO’s created Global Analytics Delivery organization. Based in the UK, Louise oversees teams of data scientists worldwide who develop custom analytics solutions and exploratory analytics projects for the world’s top banks, as well as retailers, telecommunications firms, insurance companies and other businesses.   


Louise Lunn

Inspirational Woman: Louise Lunn | Vice President, Global Analytics Delivery, FICO

Louise LunnLouise Lunn leads FICO’s newly created Global Analytics Delivery organization.

Based in the UK, Louise oversees teams of data scientists worldwide who develop custom analytics solutions and exploratory analytics projects for the world’s top banks, as well as retailers, telecommunications firms, insurance companies and other businesses. Louise is also shortlisted for this year’s Women in Credit Awards, in the Team Leader of the Year - Data, Risk & Analytics category. She is one of 20 women featured in FICO’s award-winning video on the importance of diversity in analytics.

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

I was born and raised in Yorkshire, which is where I attended university and took my first graduate role.  I now lead FICO’s Global Analytics Delivery organization. I oversee teams of data scientists worldwide who develop custom analytics solutions and exploratory analytics projects for the world’s top banks, as well as retailers, telecommunications firms, insurance companies and other businesses. I was also shortlisted for last year’s Women in Credit Awards, in the Team Leader of the Year - Data, Risk & Analytics category, and am one of 20 women featured in FICO’s award-winning video on the importance of diversity in analytics

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

No, I never sat down and planned my career. I’ve always focussed on doing my job to the best of my ability, but I always keep in mind the following things when making a career decision:-

  1. I need to enjoy what I do and see the purpose. Working with clients to solve problems through technology, data and analytics is what I enjoy.
  2. I want to seize the opportunity to acquire a new skill and knowledge. We need to take ourselves out of our comfort zone.
  3. I want to continue to learn, improve and succeed. A company that creates that environment is so important.
  4. I need to be empowered, to have control over my role, schedule and responsibilities.

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

Returning to work after my first son was born (nearly 17 years ago), I took on a more senior leadership role than the one I had left. Like many mothers I experienced concerns and guilt around returning to work after maternity leave, plus I had the pressure of increased responsibility and wanting to perform like someone with no family commitments. How could I achieve the right work life balance? Looking back now, I was the one putting pressure on myself with unrealistic goals, no one else.  There is no perfect formula or answer, it is always going to be tough juggling work and home priorities. You have to focus on the things you can control and not worry about the things you couldn’t, make time for yourself to problem solve through exercise and give yourself a break, because you are only human!

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

Being in a position to attract and retain the stars of the future in analytics and software. Giving people the opportunity to grow and develop and see them go on to achieve great things themselves.

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

The right attitude.  A positive attitude enables optimism, builds confidence and facilitates genuine relationships both personally and professionally to be built.  Your attitude determines your altitude.

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

Do not be intimidated by people who have experience. Speak your mind, offer your ideas and solutions because that’s what organisations need and want from you – be yourself and drive change!

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

I feel very lucky that I experience no barriers in FICO — gender does not play a role here in defining people and what they are capable of.  I do appreciate this is not the case for everyone, and we need to stop looking at roles in tech through a gender lens.  Being the only women in a meeting can create self-doubt. Ignore the voice in your head that tells you that your idea is not good enough – speak up and be proud of your ideas or solutions. We need to break down the barriers we create for ourselves (men and women) and have confidence in our own abilities.

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

Within FICO we have an excellent support network through groups such as [email protected] - a community available to women at all levels, designed to enable structured information/experience sharing, education, and professional networks.  Led by a steering committee of women leaders representing our various business units and geographies, it gives us many opportunities to get involved and further our network globally.

Participating in mentoring and coaching programs which allow women the opportunity to focus on their behaviours, personal and professional challenges, share leadership experiences, exchange business stories in the tech world and receive honest feedback is a great support for women in any field.

There is currently only 17 per cent 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?

Start young and make it fun! Bring technology into schools and families and encourage STEM from a young age.  Tech is not just about coding or programming skills, we need to introduce AI-based technology. AI is everywhere, and the applications are limitless.  My husband and I both have technology backgrounds, we have two sons and one daughter, we have encouraged them all equally to get involved but our daughter is the most interested and excited by technology. We see her taking over as the lead techie of the family, informing us of the next best thing.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

Women are underrepresented in the tech community, so by joining specific networking groups we can learn, listen, discuss and drive our businesses forward, promoting the opportunities for women in technology.  Some good resources and training session can be found on LinkedIn.  Ted Talks offer short powerful technology talks which I enjoy as I am limited for time.

I suggest following people on Twitter and Instagram One of my favourites is Janelle Shane. Inher blog http://aiweirdness.com and her book "You Look Like a Thing and I Love You" she writes about artificial intelligence and the hilarious and sometimes unsettling ways that algorithms get human things wrong.

The data scientists at FICO get huge benefits from Kaggle with its tutorials, free datasets, numerous competitions, and a supportive, energetic community of data scientists – all the resources you need to try something new and expand your knowledge!


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