I really enjoyed my interview at MotoNovo and meeting the people I work alongside now. I could tell they were tackling the kind of challenges I could help with and they knew what they wanted which was refreshing.

Meet Sophie, our Modelling and Decision Science Manager, part of the Data Science team. She gave us an insight into her role and her career journey so far.

What does your job role involve?

The work my team undertakes is a mixture of exploring new ideas and investigating what has happened as a result of past decisions and industry changes. I manage a team of 5 quantitative analysts, guiding and helping their analysis using a variety of software, coding languages and statistical methods. I regularly deliver analysis to senior management across the business and help shape their strategies.

Why did you choose a career in technology?

I struggled to pin down what I wanted to do until I was a year into a languages degree and decided to switch to study Applied Statistics instead. I really enjoyed learning the programming language ‘R’ and using other software, so I went for my first job which was developing applications in C# within the statistics team of a financial services company. It was a brilliant mix of technology and more traditional stats work and taught me a lot. This morphed into a ‘Data Scientist’ role, a job title I kept until moving to MotoNovo. I think people may underestimate how much data analysis requires a good understanding of technology, but they’re very much connected. 

Did you study an IT or technology related subject at A-Level or University?

Not really; I did my bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Applied Statistics after Maths, French and Chemistry A-levels, so more of a science focus than specifically technology. I wasn’t too interested in computers until they became a means to an end for crunching numbers that a calculator couldn’t handle!

Did you get any work experience in IT or technology before this role?

I got a fair bit of programming experience in my first job but my second job involved far more; I was a Data Scientist at a start-up which required people to get hands-on everywhere. I ended up taking on a ‘side role’ as a product manager, managing a team of software developers working on a personal finance mobile app and designing the data warehouse with the data architect. I certainly don’t take good decision engines and effective ETL systems for granted anymore!


Why did you apply for your role at MotoNovo Finance?

It was mostly prompted by wanting to move back to Cardiff after my time in London and wanting a better-defined role in a less crazy environment. I really enjoyed my interview at MotoNovo and meeting the people I work alongside now. I could tell they were tackling the kind of challenges I could help with and they knew what they wanted which was refreshing.


What do you think would entice more women to study technology related courses?

While there is some scientific research which suggests females are more likely to be interested in ‘people than things’ (think James Damore’s infamous Google memo), that’s like saying women are shorter than men. Maybe on a population average level, but there is a huge, huge overlap. We have to embrace the individuality of humans from the very start, so if your daughter wants to play with Lego rather than dolls then that’s up to her. The key is to provide the opportunity for those girls to play with Lego, to choose subjects that traditionally aren’t ‘for them’ and to change how business is done to suit our modern workforce. And equally, not to label other careers as ‘for women’ to the exclusion of men.

What could society do to encourage even more women to start a career in tech?

From analysis of the gender pay gap in the UK, we understand that there are many more women in part-time, entry-level roles than in highly skilled, professional, senior roles; it probably isn’t just technology but any career which requires a level of ‘keeping up’ and picking up on ‘cutting edge’ developments which is going to see a stark imbalance in who is able to advance.

Being able to share paid maternity leave with a partner, encouraged to take shared parental leave and making it easy for fathers to work part time hours are things any company can do which may nudge more women towards choosing life-long professions.