Inspiring answers by Belle Cartwright, one of the Women in Data Ambassadors on her life and working as a Senior Data & Audience Strategy Manager.
Belle Cartwright, Senior Data Strategy Manager
2. What is something about you people might not know?
I was disabled for 6 years, between age 19-25 and spent the 1st two years of uni in a wheelchair. However, thanks to stem cell medicine and the generosity of my colleagues, friends & family I can now walk again.
3. What are your hobbies?
I’m an adventure and extreme sports junkie and so whitewater kayak, climb and cycle as much as possible.
4. What did you want to be when you were growing up?
Growing up I had no real idea of what I wanted to do other than not do medicine as the rest of my family did. I flicked between wanting to be a lawyer (thanks to legally Blonde), to an artist/architect, to a politician.
5. Who was your biggest influence growing up?… who were your role models?
My parents are hugely inspirational, particularly my Mum. She was somehow able to balance being the primary caregiver to me & my sister, holding a part-time job as a nurse and studying at university all at the same time. I drew a lot of strength from her tenacity to just keep going as she knew the struggle was worth it in the end to pursue the things she loved doing. She also showed me you don’t have to be just 1 label or 1 thing and it’s possible to wear lots of different hats at the same time.
6. What were your favourite subjects at school?
I loved both maths and art equally. Maths because it was all about solving puzzles and art because it let me express frustrations and figure stuff out creatively.
7. What were your least favourite subjects at school?
I hated humanities because I really struggled with writing essays. I had to force myself to do Economics at A-Level as I figured I probably needed to learn how money and tax work before entering the real world. In the end, we discovered it was because I was dyslexic that I really struggled with those sorts of subjects so managed to put in some support work in but to this day I still hate writing long pieces of work.
8. How did you come to choose your current career path or were you led to it?
My tutor in my Art Foundation year suggested that I should check out media/advertising as an area as it would combine my interests in human behaviour and creativity. It took me a while to work out which area of the industry I wanted to work in and I tried out different aspects whilst studying through summer internships and then landing a graduate rotation scheme which enabled me to have a wide-reaching exposure to different types of roles. I landed on data strategy purely by accident after getting frustrated a year into a permanent role as a business intelligence analyst as I became frustrated that the work I was doing wasn’t driving change. I now get to work out how business should change and advance their technology & data investments, what organisational processes they need to change and how to orchestrate their data best which I absolutely love.
9. What are the biggest changes in the world of work (for women) that you are excited about?
I think the awareness and visibility of women in technical roles are hugely exciting. When I first started I couldn’t name any female CDOs or expert role models in the field, now I get to call some of them friends.
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?
My top tip for career success is to be hungry and willing to learn. Technology is evolving and changing rapidly and the people who can get in front of or drive those changes will be the end winners. As a result, entrepreneurship is a key part of my role. I have to actively seek the right business opportunities within this fast-paced ever-changing world both for my agency and my client in order for us to maintain and grow competitive advantage.
11. What advice would you give your younger self and school leavers today?
Keep an open mind and always take the opportunities in front of you as you never know where it can lead you. You will have the ability to change fields/roles multiple times in your career and what you like doing/not doing will change as your skillset and experience grows so don’t get set on one thing. It’s super easy once you have some experience to be able to link it or gain new ones to help you move from one place to the next. The biggest step you can take is the 1st one, so be bold, be brave and experiment until you find the right fit for you.
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