We had the opportunity to interview Lyn Wilbraham, Master Data Team Manager at Engen, one of the speakers at Women in Digital & Data Cape Town running on 21 November 2018.
Can you share a little bit about what it is that you do and what a typical day for you is like?
I am currently establishing a Master Data Programme where two master data environments will be merged into a single instance. This will allow the organisation to benefit from the single source of information and build the algorithms to enable analysis and analytics from a 360 degree view. I have been involved in many different roles in data and each time am amazed at the new things I learn.
Typical day is engaging with stakeholders and sharing the value on managing your data to enable and reap the rewards for analytics and analysis.
What are some of the biggest challenges that women who want to venture into the world of data analytics/data science face today?
Image associated with a techie – There is a view that describes the techie as being male wearing big glasses and shunned by others. This can influence a young girls thoughts about the type of career she wants to embark on and the image that career has
Confidence in themselves – Confident that they have the same skills as their male counterparts.
Encouragement from peers and family – if your family and friends support the career you have chosen and believe that you can succeed then there is a greater chance of success
Exposure to the technical aspects of computers at a young age – encouraging young girls to be involved at a younger age.
In summary – we need to change society’s image of women and their capabilities in the work place as this influences our young women and lays the foundation.
Data analytics/data science is perceived as a male-dominated field. What steps should be taken to attract more women to the field?
The careers related to Data Analytics and Data Science need to be introduced to our school children. The job market is constantly changing and the jobs of today are not the same as the jobs of tomorrow. They need to be made aware of the possibilities.
Definitions of the roles and responsibilities need to be aligned with the job titles in organisations. In organisations a title is given in order to associate a pay grade but the functions and responsibilities associated with the role are not always aligned. This can result in a male and a female having the same job title but the functions could be more “gender” aligned.
Can you pinpoint one moment or person that was instrumental in your decision to pick this career path?
Implementing my first ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system brought the awareness of the importance of data and how it can be used to add value to an organisation
What advice do you have for anyone interested in a career in data analytics/data science?
You need to love data, be curious, see patterns, embrace change- be prepared to change you hypothesis, respect the data for what it is-the answers are only as good as the questions you pose.
Do you think that data can help build a more diverse and equal workplace? How so?
If we use diverse teams to ask the questions of the data then we can use the results to build a more diverse and equal workplace. A bit of a catch 22 as we need to build the diverse teams first…….
What do you think is the best part of being a woman in the data industry?
I don’t think of myself as being a woman in the data industry – I think of myself as being part of the data industry and being able to add value.
What are some of the best and worst workplace initiatives you have seen/heard of to help promote diversity?
Women with Drive at Engen
What advice would you give to a woman considering a career in data/data science? What do you wish you had known?
Research and understand the different roles available in Data. There are many.
Talk to people involved with data to ensure that you select the role that best suits your aspirations
Spend time shadowing people in the different roles if possible
What do you think we should be doing more of to encourage more girls to consider a career in data analytics/data science?
We should focus on sharing with all our children the different careers that data can offer and encourage them to become involved
As adults and parents we need to change and live the transformation that removes the gender, race and culture bias and support our children in selecting choices they want to make.
Understand your strengths and drive and aim to improve those to make your working day enjoyable.
Any reading/website you would recommend to stay updated?
Love reading the White papers
Reviewing other view points and constantly checking my own
Fun fact about you?
No matter how hard I try I cannot roller blade, roller skate or ride a skate board. As soon as my feet go off the ground I lose my balance. I even struggle to wear high heels…….I am sure if I asked the right questions of the data it would give me the answer to my issue