Exclusive Interview with Louise Barber, Head of Data from TAL Life

speaker interview

We were lucky enough to sit down with Louise ahead of the Chief Data and Analytics Officer event she will be speaking at in September and she gave us some key insight into the journey she has had in to the data space and how she feels we can address the data talent gap moving forward.

1) Tell us about your road to the data & analytics space?

My career path into Data and Analytics is a non traditional route, I attribute my career trajectory to a combination of; taking on projects and stretch roles as well as taking the risk in moving sideways from a finance into a technology discipline.  9 years ago I was working in an APAC role for a Global organisation as a Director of Billing and Credit.  I knew that the Billing role was very niche and was not a career that would grow beyond that role.  I moved into a project role for VHA and then onto Optus.  Within Optus I focussed on delivering Data projects and worked on transformational programs and also took up the role of Delivery Manager – managing the Data Project Team.

My current role has enabled me to cross the threshold of project delivery to Solution Delivery in Data.  As the Head of Data at TAL I manage a team of designers, developers and am starting the implementation of Data Governance at TAL.  I also took on board the role of chairing the ‘Analytics at TAL’ community.  This group brings technology and business analysts together to collaborate and remove silos across the enterprise.

2) Why do you think there are fewer women working in this field than men?

During the Data Girls workshops, I have the opportunity to talk with women embarking on the journey of tech and data.  In many cases, I have heard that women have a perception that Data and Analytics is better suited for men.  There are few mentors and role models in their own workplace or networks that demystify this belief.

3)  What is being done? What are you and other companies doing, to address the imbalance?

The partnership we (TAL)have with Keboola and Yellowfin BI enables these free workshops to encourage women to enter into the industry of D&A. I love that Keboola and Yellowfin BI share the passion we have at TAL.  We believe in building the data and analytics industry by using our resources, our shared knowledge and growing more talent because it is the right thing to do!  If by chance we get candidates from the workshop or help someone move into Data/Tech then the workshops are proving to be successful.

4)  If I were looking to start a career in data out of university, what you would suggest my first 5 steps should be?

University students that complete their studies have a good start, they have the technical skill coupled with the sound academia but they lack some of the soft skills or experience that many organisations seek in their candidates.  Employers are also looking for candidates that have a commitment to life long learning to keep their skills up to date. Therefore I would recommend the following steps to ensure you are the stand out candidate when applying for roles in industry;

  1. Attend hackathons – (In your CV, tell us how the Hackathon has built knowledge, skills and a network)
  2. Use your own time to access publicly available datasets, ingest to your own cloud analytics platform – demonstrate in your interview and in your CV what have you learnt from the data
  3. Offer your time to NFP organisations to help build a the D&A capability
  4. Create a Linked in profile, outline all of the above
  5. Brush up on presentation skills – Data Insights are really useless unless you are able communicate to your audience

5)  What could organisations do to help attract and retain women working in the data/analytics space going forward?

Seeking out women to join your organisation in D&A requires executive and management support.  Women will move to an organisation if they feel they will be supported and have an opportunity to grow.  Organisations should;

  • Ensure their D&I council and policies will support women in the workforce
  • Setup a Women in Tech group to work through a strategy to attract and maintain female talent
  • Sponsor female Hackathons
  • Speak to your recruitment agencies and ask for 50/50 candidates so that you are setting the tone with the recruiters that you expect female candidates in the short list

Author:

Louise Barber, Head of Data, TAL Life

 

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