Case study

Data+ analyst — Martyna Adam

After achieving the BSc in Psychology and the MSc Research Methods in Psychology at the University of Liverpool, Martyna managed to land a place on Grayce's Data+ graduate development programme

Why did you choose Grayce's graduate programme?

Throughout the four years of university study, I gained a wealth of skills and experience through conducting my own research, designing online questionnaires, and analysing data using statistical methods in IBM SPSS (Statistical Package for the Social Sciences). However, apart from a very basic introduction to R coding in one of my modules, I had no other technical experience.

I felt that I had the potential to achieve and learn more, and reflecting on my educational career, I realised how much I was surrounded by data. I began my quest of searching for roles in data analysis and came across the Grayce Data+ development programme on the Prospects site.

What appealed to me the most was the huge role that continuous self-development and learning played in the programme. The other graduate roles that were advertised required years of technical experience, mainly in SQL and Python, which I hadn't developed yet.

I knew I could fall back on transferable skills from my degrees, the ability to push myself out of my comfort zone and expand my technical toolkit with the necessary skills to be successful in the data space.

What was the application process like?

I applied through their website with my CV, and after a round of four interviews I got the call to say I was successful and would be starting on the upcoming bootcamp in the Data+ programme.

What's a typical day like as a Data+ analyst?

The core of my responsibilities is centred around my client, a multinational company and leader in transportation and logistics. My main duties involve extracting data to create reports, aggregating data for financial month-end processes, and liaising with senior stakeholders to provide data that supports project decisions. I use advanced skills in Excel on a regular basis, automating manual processes where it's feasible, and visualising data in dashboards. In addition, due to the nature of my client role, I'm exposed to resource planning, finance, risk management, and other critical operational areas, which allows me to gain a much deeper understanding of how the business operates.

Aside from client responsibilities, I primarily engage with Grayce and the community through my role as the communications and strategy lead for one of our initiatives, the Digital Community of Practice (DCP).

Our team recently organised a unique Digital Festival, with external speakers including a director in security, analytics manager, and head of analytics, as well as afternoon coding demonstrations hosted by Grayce analysts. The aim of the week-long event was to provide an opportunity for everyone in the community to upskill in the digital space, network, and hear inspiring career stories.

I'm also a mentor for women on our Women in Tech Scholarships, which offers fully funded places on Code Nation's 12-week Master:Coding bootcamp, and a buddy mentor for new Grayce analysts. My time is also dedicated to completing the learning pathway, which is part of my programme.

What part of your job gives you the most satisfaction?

It's working with people. There's a misconception about roles in data, and within the wider technical field, that a career in this space is lonely and secluded. From my experience, it couldn't be further from the truth.

I'm regularly faced with sets of problems I need to solve and being able to systematically work through them to find the error and then implement solutions is what keeps my role interesting. I feel a great deal of satisfaction when I can get a formula or piece of code to work, and even better if I was able to help someone else with the same issue along the way.

My strengths lie in self-development. I strive to becoming better each day by engaging in Grayce initiatives, learning new technical skills, pushing myself out of my comfort zone and always attempting to add value to my client. Excellence is encouraged, recognised, and rewarded on the programme. I feel part of a community that wants their analysts to become leaders of the future, and the resources I'm exposed to provide me with a unique opportunity to really flourish during the start of my career.

One of the most satisfying and pivotal moments of my Grayce journey to-date was becoming an 'Ultimate G Award' winner for self-development, which was rewarded by an all-expenses paid weekend trip to Lisbon, Portugal, alongside the other 11 winners, our HR director and CEO.

What are the challenges?

The biggest challenge I've faced is stakeholder management. One of the skills we learned during bootcamp was social skills and developing an ability to adapt them to match stakeholders to ensure successful communication. It's imperative to be able to analyse and identify the needs of your stakeholders, and plan how to meet their expectations. I believe that technical skills are helpful, but not necessary, and can always be improved, but what's important is soft skills, and success-driving behaviours.

How has your role developed and what are your career ambitions?

It's directly evolved in line with my growth in confidence. I was never a shy individual, but at the beginning of my journey I struggled with the lack of self-belief that I could be successful in the world of data and tech - especially as a woman and transitioning from a non-technical background. Through small, consistent steps, I've taken on more responsibilities, led on new projects, and have consistently looked for new opportunities to assist with tasks and expand my knowledge.

As a result, I've gained trust with my client and Grayce to always deliver value and high-quality work. I've learned the power of good time management, which means I'm now in a strong position to provide my client with valuable work, while working on projects that align with my core values of helping to grow the community and make knowledge more accessible.

My career ambitions are positioned around skills and experiences rather than a specific role. I aim to work towards improving skills in areas such as networking, presentations, SQL, Python, R, and mentoring. I may be a data analyst, but this isn't my identity. I don't want to be one thing – there's so much more I can learn. I have interests that span many fields, and I want to continue to navigate them to find the areas that I'm most passionate about. I recently combined my interest in writing with my learning journey in SQL, and began documenting this in Medium articles, one of which has been published as part of the Learning SQL publication.

What advice would you give to other aspiring data analysts?

  • Develop a growth mindset and stay curious enough to always ask plenty of questions. Stepping into a new role with a client can seem daunting, and it takes time to understand business operations and the legacy of how things are completed. However, asking for explanation and clarification will allow you to gain a deeper understanding of why your role is important.
  • Have self-compassion when you make a mistake. As humans, we're prone to errors, and if you handle the situation with integrity, you'll gain an opportunity to learn for the future.
  • Be dedicated to your goals and keep pushing on in small steps to reach your potential. With the current skills gap in the UK, businesses need bright minds to help expand data and technical solutions. However, as it's been shown that technical skills lose half of their value within two-and-a-half years, it's never been more important to have the drive to continuously learn. Display an attitude to learning that centres on continuous upskilling and professional self-development. By showing commitment and dedicating time to developing personal project portfolios, you'll acquire the skills and experiences needed to thrive and become the leaders of tomorrow.

What more can be done to increase female representation in tech leadership roles?

There's no doubt that the data and technology industry is currently lacking in female representation, and even more so in leadership roles. Female role models are important to allow other females to view and recognise themselves as being equally capable of achieving success in this rapidly growing field. A lack of visibility and exposure to female role models perpetuates the idea that this career is not suitable for us - which couldn't be more untrue. Education is key, and companies should prioritise outreach programmes to school students with the aim of inspiring young girls that a career in this field is achievable and incredibly fulfilling. Every effort must be made to ensure that communication about relevant educational programmes is clear and visible to increase recruitment of girls, but equally putting in measures such as mentoring to support them in their ongoing journey.

Although tackling the issue at the root is important, it will inevitably take time. The time between a young girl being inspired by a data and technology role and then attaining a job in this field is likely to equate to several years. Therefore, we also need to address the bottleneck that's currently being experienced, which relates to the challenges women face in leadership roles overall. The motherhood penalty is already well known, but in 2022 new research pointed to the singlehood penalty - professional single women with talents that seem too 'masculine', such as analytical skills, are penalised in their early careers.

To address this, we need to provide more exposure through knowledge exchanges on the many faces of technology, to minimise the damaging thought bias that women should be radiating warmth and a sense of community at work, rather than displaying the masculine traits associated with career prioritisation and pursual of leadership. Fundamentally, we need to provide opportunities for women to share their stories, expanding our view of what a successful woman looks like and shifting the narrative to showcase the variety in what it means to be successful. The focus should be on collaboration of experts to create policies, allowing women to have an equal chance of significant leadership promotion, in tech, data and beyond.

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