Elizabeth Moorcroft - Senior Data Scientist at Aviva
What is your role at work?
I’m a data scientist and my job is to work with the marketing team to make sure that we send the correct emails and the correct marketing content, to the correct person, at the right time.
How did you get into data and technology, and why?
I had no idea I was going to end doing up this! I didn’t even know about data and tech as a career path to begin with. I got into it through my PhD and with the help of a really great guy called Stephen Hails who is a professor of computer science at UCL doing animal tracking and sensor technology. If I was going to spend four years of my life doing something, I wanted it to be fun. That kick started my love of data and technology.
Has there been a turning point in your career?
My bravest moment was when I decided to quit my job and go back to university to do a masters and a PhD. Everyone around me was excelling in really great jobs and I was going back to study! It was a daunting time but it changed everything from then on.
How has a setback or obstacle shaped you?
It’s only really a set-back if you haven’t learnt anything from it. Think of them as learning opportunities! I’ve been very lucky though so far, I haven’t had many.
How do you lean on others to gain strength?
As a woman in tech I think it’s really important that you have people you can lean on, and people who do the same job as you and who can inspire you. It’s not just hearing about their successes either, it’s also about learning how they deal with difficult situations.
Are role models important to you?
There certainly should be more female role models in the data and tech community. There should be a leading woman in almost every company so that other women can see that it’s possible and that they don’t have to move job to be promoted, or move to Silicon Valley to be Head of Data Science – they can do it in London, or Luton, or Liverpool, or wherever.
What really excites you about data and tech?
What I love about data is that it makes lots of things that were impossible ten years ago, possible. It’s going to make our lives so much better and so much easier and we’re only just at the start of the data revolution. Things are going to get bigger and better in the next few years.
What advice would you give your teenage self?
If I could tell teenage Liz one thing, it would be to keep going and that you’re doing really well. I made mistakes, but I learnt from them and I wouldn’t be the same person as I am now had I not made them.
What achievements are you most proud of?
I’m most proud of finishing my PhD. The academic achievement is huge, but for me it was all about getting over the mental challenge. A PhD can be a very lonely experience, so doing four long years of it when all your friends seem to be progressing quickly in their careers can be really tough. It took me a while to shout out about completing it, but I recently added it to my email signature and people now comment on it all the time!
Can you tell us about the significant object that you’ve chosen?
I chose a tin-can telephone because it represents the communication between data science and the general public. Anyone who’s tried these will know they’re a bit muffly, you can’t quite hear everything and a lot is lost in translation. We need to talk clearly, loudly and confidently about what we’re doing in the tech world and how we’re using people’s data.