Tell us about the journey to your current role and what it this role entails?
My background is a somewhat different and varied one. I’ve spent over 15 years working in marketing consulting firms running data and technology teams before moving to my current role. The exposure I had during those years was invaluable in getting me to the point where I am today, as it forced me to think beyond the data and be more strategic about how the data can be used to guide decision making for an organisation. Being in leadership roles exposed me to all facets of what is required to run a successful business, and gave me skills, knowledge and experience that I feel that I wouldn’t have had otherwise.
My current role sees me heading up the Analysis and Insights function at Lotterywest. The team is essentially an internal service for the business, providing information and insights based around the data the organisation collects through a variety of different sources. For the organisation, this is a relatively new function, which creates its own challenges, but the opportunity to build a capability from the ground up and leverage all the skills I have acquired to this point was just too good to pass up. I have been with the organisation for 2 years, and feel that the team has already been able to make a difference during that time.
Can you describe a project you are working on/recently completed, and any key challenges you have faced along the way and how they were overcome?
What did you learn from this project? What did it achieve?
For me, the most impactful thing the team has completed during my time is the assessment and reworking of the reporting that the business now does. Past processes were very manual and required significant human capital to complete. This was not only unproductive, but created a greater chance of human error, something that the team encountered very early on in my tenure where a couple of reports went out with inaccurate information. When we stepped back from the problem we realised that there was a lot of replication of information across the reports, and as a result it made sense to try and centralise the key information into consistent reporting structures, which could then be automated to generate outputs in a more timely manner. For the team, processes that were taking days now take a couple of hours and users of these reports are now able to get the information in a more timely and user friendly manner through the use of dashboards. For me, the measure of success is a somewhat uncommon one, when we were interviewing candidates for a senior marketing role, one of the internal candidates indicated that in the past she considered herself an intuitive marketer, but over the last 12 months due to the greater availability and understanding of the information the business had on hand she now considered herself an evidence based marketer.
However for me, the project that excites me the most is the one we’ve recently started undertaking, which is determining the best way to evaluate the performance and potential of current and proposed retail site locations. The challenges that underpin this one are quite unique for our business, in that we want to grow our footprint, but the growth cannot be at the detriment of our current retail offering. There isn’t a clear playbook on how to do this, so it’s going to be a task that requires the classic two-phase approach (“trial” and “error”) in order to achieve a result. Not only is this an important strategic piece of work for the business moving forward, it will also test the data reserves the business has on hand, and allow us to understand what information is valuable to capture and update moving forward.
What excites you most about the future?
For me, the most exciting element of the future will be watching the team grow and evolve as professionals. As we were essentially building the capability from the ground up within the organisation, it has allowed me to recruit staff with a view more to the future than the present. I am excited about the potential of every member of my team, but it is up to me now to ensure that this potential is fully realised.
If you could give one piece of advice to someone looking to further their career in government, what would it be?
I think there are lots of different sources I tap into for my own professional development. The first place I start is my peers around me, both inside and outside of my immediate team. Within your current organisation, the knowledge and insights you can gain from others allow you to do your own job better, which is particularly important when you are an internal service for the business. My commute to and from work will usually incorporate a podcast or two along the way, I’ll normally spend 10-15 minutes over the weekend sourcing podcasts I’m keen on hearing and queue them up to work through. I have a reasonable sized library of professional books I have collected across the years, of which about a dozen are in regular circulation at work. My lunch break usually involves a quick scan of articles from sites I’ll regularly visit, our team recently started using Flipboard to capture and consolidate all the articles we find interesting and worthy to share across the team. Normally I’ll do a couple of online courses a year to build expertise in particular areas, and have also found Youtube to be helpful for walkthroughs for specific tasks. Finally, Stack Overflow has been a go-to resource for me for the best part of a decade for any specific technical queries.
Where do you look to for further education? E.g. articles, podcasts, news sources, courses – e.g. University, online, internal etc?
Mckinsey online, Institute of Directors, Waikato University/Auckland University schools of business, Human Synergistic’s International are all sources of further education that I’d encourage anyone to explore.