In early 2019, I joined the Department as a Data Executive in the newly created Data Unit and was recently promoted to Data Delivery Lead in the same team.
I work on a variety of data projects with teams across the Department. My work generally involves improving the way in which the Department uses data, so I am often found creating data pipelines to produce data for analysts. I also design interactive dashboards and set up the data behind them to help analysts query data sources. To mix things up I have worked with crisis response teams such as on Thomas Cook, and more recently I’ve been collecting and processing Aviation and Maritime data in relation to Covid-19.
There isn’t really a typical day for me as the range of projects I work on is pretty varied; I’m currently improving processes for survey data such as National Travel Survey (NTS) which I’ll then put into an interactive dashboard for the Department. I manage my own workload, which has sometimes been challenging as I’ve struggled to turn down work; I’ve found trying to focus on Minimal Viable Product (MVP) and then building it up from there is a good way to manage a variable workload to have the flexibility for urgent work, realistically I should also learn to say no a bit more.
The variety of work is really great – and having the more creative aspect of dashboards is often a welcome break from a morning spent trying to resolve errors in my code. The role also gives me flexibility to develop the skills that I want to, either on the job or with online learning. Finishing a project knowing that when a similar project comes along, I’ll be even more efficient, is a good feeling. I’ve also improved my ability to plan out data solutions; it can be tempting to automate absolutely everything, but sometimes excel is perfectly fine. I was also fortunate enough to take part in the Stepping into Leadership programme over the last year, which provided me with skills that will help me with many aspects of work and gave me the chance to work with people from across the Department – before this I didn’t really know what Policy people did.
Flexibility of working location and hours allows me to work around both my projects and myself – this is really valuable if I’m in flow at 17:30 as I don’t feel like I need to stop working as I can just take a shorter day another time. The Department is also proactive when it comes to inclusion which has given me the opportunity to be a Reverse Mentor for a Deputy Director and has also been great for my personal development. Whilst I work in the Data Unit, I often work with our sister team, the Analytics Unit and between the two teams there’s typically someone who’ll be able to help with specific problems. Having previously worked in the private sector, the culture of mutual support is really important and ultimately means that everyone is more productive.