Some very inspiring words from Louise Maynard-Atem, a Women in Data Ambassador 2019 on how she experienced her career path to being an innovation lead and working in an Innovation Lead job.
1. Name and job role.
Louise Maynard-Atem; Innovation Lead – Experian
2. What is something about you people might not know?
I have a massive phobia of butterflies, weird I know!
3. What are your hobbies?
I’m an avid reader (both fiction & non-fiction), I spend a lot of my time in the gym, I also love Cirque du Soleil and have started training in aerial arts
4. What did you want to be when you were growing up?
Firstly a physicist, then later it broadened to anything that would put me in contention for a Nobel Prize.
5. Who was your biggest influence growing up?… who were your role models?
Easily, my mum – she raised two daughters by herself, worked multiple jobs, and is just the strongest person I know. And my sister too – she’s the queen of reinvention, she’s had so many different careers and is constantly trying new things!
6. What were your favourite subjects at school?
Chemistry, English Literature and Latin & Classical Civilisations
7. What were your least favourite subjects at school?
Anything that didn’t have a practical element or application (so basically History)
8. How did you come to choose your current career path or were you led to it?
On paper, my career journey looks quite erratic, to be honest, but the theme running through all of my choices has been experimentation. I like to try new things that haven’t been done before, whether that was literally experimenting in a laboratory, or trialling different data sets to see which has the most impact on giving people access to more financial services. The skills that I learnt as a research chemist, are the skills that I use today, albeit is a very different setting!
9. What are the biggest changes in the world of work (for women) that you are excited about?
I’m excited that the value that diversity (of all kinds) is being recognised as having a major impact on the bottom line for businesses. Having more women, more people of colour, more people from different backgrounds, isn’t charity; companies aren’t pushing diversity & inclusion initiatives just because it’s the right thing to do (although it certainly is), they’re doing it because it makes good financial sense. I’m excited that this is a big focus for organisations everywhere and think it will lead to lots more opportunities for a broader range of people, as well as better products and services that reflect the consumers they serve.
10. Would you say having a degree is the only path to a successful career? Would you say there are opportunities for women entrepreneurs in your career?
I spent a long time in university because it was necessary for the career I wanted to pursue at the time (to become a chemistry lecturer), and I really enjoyed my time there, but I definitely don’t think it’s the only path. Having on-the-job experience is incredibly valuable, I’m a huge proponent of schemes like apprenticeships because they give you the opportunity to work and study. There are definitely opportunities for women entrepreneurs in the field where I work; in fact, there are opportunities for women entrepreneurs in every field. We need solutions that are designed for everyone, which means these solutions need to be designed by everyone.
11. What advice would you give your younger self and school leavers today?
It’s never an either-or situation! When I was younger, I always felt I had to choose between being sciencey or being artsy. I didn’t appreciate that the skills are totally complimentary, and you’ll need all of them in different situations that you’ll face. Embrace all aspects of your talents, and never try to stifle one in service of another.