How could you go about finding out more before making a large commitment such as packing in a job and re-training for a whole new career? Taking the leap from one career path to another is a huge step in anyone’s life, making that leap into a career in data adds the challenge of learning to code and understand complex numerical approaches.
Working alongside Equate Scotland, the Data Lab and Code Clan, Effini delivered day one of the Women in Data Science learning event. The course aimed to increase awareness and understanding of data science, helping show practical examples of what it means for a business and what skills they need to develop to be successful.
Those taking part came from a range of backgrounds: some had taken a career break, some had taken time out to raise children, others who were looking to bring in additional experience within a role they were already in. But all came with a view to making a change.
Getting started by using simple tools to ask questions and gather the resulting answers gave us our first data visualisation of the session – a little more quirky than our usual ones! None the less it demonstrated the point – data comes from so many sources, but the most important part is how you communicate back the story of what it’s telling the audience, the insights and the value.
Sharing stories like this, around all the other skills needed to work effectively with data, is so important to help a more diverse set of people to get into this area. The skills people have gained from previous roles can mean they have so much more to bring to an organisation. Project management, effective communications, general business awareness – all things that a brand new graduate may not yet have had opportunity to develop. But people like we had on our course – they have it all in abundance.
Effective data solutions come from strong teams working together to cover all the skills needed, and we hope the amazing women who attended the session came away realising there was such a strong need for folk like them. Their enthusiasm, questions and chat in breakout group activities certainly highlighted a real passion to take the opportunity they’d been given when selected for this course and go for it.
Day two and three of the course was run by Code Clan and focused on building experience using tools like Python and how it can be used for the practical skills needed. The final day saw a panel of inspiring speakers, hosted by the fabulous Lindsay Linning from Equate, share their own stories of how they came to be working in data. Our very own Sam Rhynas and Eleanor Mitchell were joined by Delphine Rabiller from Freeagent, who shared their own unique pathways to where they are now. Each of their stories showed there was no right way, and that each role they did brought new learning and opportunity.
Feedback from the course has already highlighted how important it’s been to the attendees – helping them understand a more practical approach to data, starting to breakdown some of the complexity about the topic and help them start to focus on what their next steps might be.
As data leaders, we must all continue to develop the next generation of data scientists, analysts, engineers and all the other roles we need. We need to build work environments that people want to come and work and be genuinely flexible to allow people in all sorts of circumstances to perform to their best ability within an organisation.