Inspiring answers by Kirsty Neal, one of the Women in Data Ambassadors on her life and working in a CRM Consultant job.
1. Name & Job Role
Kirsty Neal, Charity Insight and CRM Consultant
I once had a job planting Christmas trees
3. What are your hobbies?
With 2 children under 7, I don’t have a lot of time for hobbies, but I do enjoy playing the piano and gardening when I get a chance!
4. What did you want to be when you were growing up?
At primary school I always wanted to be a writer, then at secondary school, I got more into science and imagined myself becoming an astronomer or an ecologist
5. Who was your biggest influence growing up?… who were your role models?
I had an amazing geography teacher at secondary school called Liz Hales. She was no-nonsense and very down to earth. Her enthusiasm for her subject was completely infectious and played a big part in my decision to study geography at university.
6. What were your favourite subjects at school?
Physics, geography and English
7. What were your least favourite subjects at school?
Sport. My school was on a steep hill and the sports field was at the bottom of it, so I have a lot of memories of running uphill in the mud, late for my next lesson!
8. How did you come to choose your current career path or were you led to it?
I started temping on an IT support helpdesk when I left university and stayed for five years!. I was leading a project to roll out new equipment, which was struggling because we were getting conflicting schedule data from several sources, none of which were accurate. For a workaround, I taught myself Access and built my first database, and I found I’d enjoyed going that much more than my actual job! So I went back to college and retrained in software engineering, and afterwards, I was fortunate to land a role on the data team at the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA). I love working in the not for profit sector and I’ve remained in that field ever since
9. What are the biggest changes in the world of work (for women) that you are excited about?
There is a growing awareness of flexible working, which has benefits for everyone regardless of gender but does help enormously for parents and carers who want to continue to progress in our careers. As a parent I’ve benefited from shared parental leave which meant my husband and I could take equal time off for maternity leave. Recognising that both parents can be a carer and a breadwinner is one step toward gender equality, but there are still more steps to go!
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?
Well, my degree was in geography, and while that did involve some elements of maths and statistics, I can’t honestly say I draw on it every day! The skills I use in my role are almost exclusively self-taught, and I have to continually update them as the technology landscape changes (this year I’ve been learning Power BI and Python). Being curious and adaptable are the key skills that have enabled me to progress.
11. What advice would you give your younger self and school leavers today?
Don’t worry if you don’t know everything now, and you don’t have a big life plan. Living is learning -the world will change and you’ll change with it. Be alert to that and stay curious!
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