Inspiring answers by Caroline Carruthers, one of the Women in Data Ambassadors on her life and working in a Chief Data Officer job.
1. Name and job role.
Caroline Carruthers – Partner & Chief Data Officer – Carruthers and Jackson
In 2018, Caroline was named as one of the Top Women in Data & Technology. Prior to founding Carruthers and Jackson, Caroline worked across multiple industries in strategic data and IT roles, most recently as Group Director of Data at Lowell Group and as the first Chief Data Officer for Network Rail.
I once had a Guinness world record (it has since been beaten and I don’t feel the need to retry for it) for how many coffee beans I could move from one bowl to the other with chopsticks, one-handed.
3. What are your hobbies?
I read constantly, walk my dog and spend time with my friends and family – my work doesn’t leave me a great deal of time for much else
4. What did you want to be when you were growing up?
A jet fighter pilot or a vampire (I wasn’t really fussy about which one it was)
5. Who was your biggest influence growing up?
This one is easy, my Mum. She was such a strong woman who totally believed in me and my sisters, there is something special about that kind of support that encourages you to get out into the world and experience life. I’m pretty sure I got my love of rollercoasters from her and my wanderlust too.
6. Who were your role models?
Any writer, I loved anyone who could commit their thoughts to paper and let other people see that part of themselves, Maggie Philbin (she was a presenter on a programme called tomorrows world, one of the only tech programmes on TV and she was a woman!) and again my Mum.
7. What were your favourite subjects at school?
I know its geeky but maths and computer science were my favourites, both of them felt more like remembering an old friend than learning. I put hours into computer science on the school machine and was constantly being kicked off and being told to go home
8. What were your least favourite subjects at school?
French, I hated that one. I struggle with English at times so having someone speak to me in a different language was just painful. Every school induced headache came from a French lesson. I travel a lot and find that when I have lived in different countries I can pick up enough of the language to cope well but a few hours a week as a child struggling with French was enough to force my eyes to roll into the back of my head.
9. How did you come to choose your current career path or were you led to it?
I don’t remember choosing anything, I’ve just always gone with what I found interesting at the time. There’s wonderful energy about just jumping in and seeing what happens and I love pushing myself outside of my comfort zone. If you do know what you want to do – congratulations but I always just did what I found interesting, in my GCSEs, A-levels and through my degrees before my working life really started. There was never a grand plan but a search for the next puzzle worth figuring out.
10. What are the biggest changes in the world of work (for women) that you are excited about?
Diversity is recognised as important, that single simple statement is so powerful and it’s crazy to think that it wasn’t always the case.
11. Would you say having a degree is the only path to a successful career?
Absolutely not, it doesn’t fit everyone and nor should it. We aren’t all the same and we should play to our strengths. Some of us are really hands-on or passionately creative or something else that doesn’t want to do more formal education.
12. Would you say there are opportunities for women entrepreneurs in your career?
Some of the most amazing entrepreneurs in my area are women, the women in data awards showcase some of these incredible women!!! Data covers so many aspects and is such an interesting career that I think it plays well to women.
13. What advice would you give your younger self and school leavers today?
Happiness is a choice, so be happy. There will always be challenges, hard days and times you think you want to crawl into a hole but you can’t, they don’t last and they make you appreciate all the good stuff you get to do and above all have fun and don’t take things so seriously.
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Chief Data Officer job