Sometimes we forget the humans behind the tech in our ever busy world. DSF is fortunate enough to know some incredible tech leaders across the world and has the privilege of hearing them present at our events. That being said, our Speaker Spotlight sets the stage to get to know our speakers on a more personal level and connect them with our growing community. Read the mini interview below!

A bit about Lisa

Lisa has worked with organisations to deliver value from their data, building technical solutions and statistical models to produce actionable insight. In 2018, Lisa discovered her passion for developing individuals in data and begun developing and delivering data courses. Lisa is passionate about empowering people through digital skills and is a firm believer than anyone can learn to use technology to enrich their processes and workflows. She is believes in the importance of ethics in Data Science and that everyone has a duty to act within the best interest of humanity.

How did you start out in your tech career?

I first got inspired by tech when I was just 5 years old and became the proud owner of a Vtech kids toy laptop. It had an LCD screen and was mostly spelling games – but it came with a BASIC programming application, and I was hooked!

Despite loving coding and tech, I knew that being a pure software engineer wasn’t quite what I wanted to do! I joined a graduate scheme where you spent time in various departments. My placements with HR, sales, and marketing were complete disasters – I was not cut out for any of those! Luckily, they had set up a new data and business intelligence unit and felt that I’d be a great fit! After that, my data career really began.

What are the signs of success in your field?

I think in Data one of the biggest successes is always going to be seeing change happening because of something you’ve built. Maybe you influence a decision that led to business growth, or your data model leads to an increase in sales.

For me personally, success looks like hearing from happy alumni! I love when a previous student passionately shares something they’ve built or just something they are really excited by.

What is the best and worst thing about your job role?

I train and develop fledgling Data Scientists – The best part of the role is the students! They bring so much energy and passion to what they do. Our students come from so many rich and diverse backgrounds, they bring so much new prospective and ideas to the table – I’ve learned so much from getting to work from them!

The most challenging part is the rate of change in the data industry. We must constantly iterate and update our curriculum and keep our own knowledge fresh and up to date. How quickly the field is innovating is one of my favourite things about data – it keeps it interesting but challenging.

What can you advise someone just starting out to be successful?

There is a huge Data Science community full of incredible people and amazing resources – so make the most of it! Events like Data Science Festival are incredible and bring so much learning and so many connections in such a condensed and fun way. Putting time into attending events or being part of communities can really pay off as you continue throughout your career.

How do you switch off?

In the winter you’ll find me in the bouldering gym, and in the summer, you’ll find me paddleboarding on lakes!

What advice would you give your younger self?

Being your authentic self will one day be welcome and appreciated!

When I was younger there was a lot of stigma around being really into technology – I’d reassure myself that one day I will find people who share that same passion!

What is next for you?

I can’t imagine ever leaving Digital Futures now, having joined in the very early days and seeing it grow and continue to deliver against our mission is amazing. I feel so fortunate to be in such a passionate and mission driven company.

My next challenge is working out how to make more opportunities available to more students, but still give every student the same great experience!

If you could do anything now, what would you do? Why?

It’s so cheesy to say but I’d keep doing exactly what I’m doing now – I’d teach people Data Science! Starting my career in technology was really transformational, it opened up opportunities and a standard of living that I never thought that I’d have access to based on my background. I love getting to share that same opportunity with others!

What are your top 5 predictions in tech for the next 5 years?

– One of the primary ones is that we’re going to start to see even more specialism and role definition in the Data Industry! It’s a bit of a mess right now, and it’s unsustainable. I predict that terms and roles will start to become more homogenised across companies, with clearer definitions of what the roles mean!
– Another is ESG (Environmental, Social & Governance) and sustainability in Tech as well. Looking at something like Blockchain, it’s consuming an intense amount of electricity and having a huge environmental impact. Green Coding is going to become so much more prevalent. We used to optimise for speed and efficiency – soon it will be minimising the impact!
– Large Language models like GPT3, ChatGPT, and the Google variants are obviously going to be very key – its hard to know exactly the sort of role that they will play. We’re going to start hearing a lot more about these technologies, along with AI generated images – but how they will be implemented is beyond my prediction powers.
– We’re going to continue to see a shift in the technology workforce – the skills required are getting more and more complex. I think the divide between business users of technology, and technology creators will continue to increase. The entry level into technology will continue to grow unfortunately.
– It’s going to continue to be a really fun and diverse place to work!

Watch Lisa’s session at the Data Science Festival here.

Thank you to all our wonderful speakers for taking part in our Speaker Spotlight!

Want to become a DSF Speaker? Apply here!