This Thursday we’re talking with Karen Jean-Francois who is a Data Analyst and Women in Data Host and Producer. Karen is passionate about how data science and analytics can support businesses and help them better understand their customers and she enjoys exploring data and finding surprising insights that make a difference. As Karen says, ‘While I find digging into data fun, I believe that it comes with responsibility, and my uncompromising focus on data integrity enables me to build trust and strong relationships with stakeholders. Most of all, I strive to help others craft their own path to personal and professional fulfilment. I strongly believe that focusing on personal development is key to having a successful career – no matter what your definition of success is – along with having access to role models. This is why created a podcast in partnership with Women in Data.’
What it means to be a Woman in Tech for Karen? Have a read below!
Tell me about your journey in the world of tech. How did you start and what was your motivation, what attracted you to the tech career you are in?
Growing up, kids tend to play at being a doctor, a teacher, a cashier, an explorer…. They never go “oh let’s pretend we are technology professionals” … well, not that I am aware of! I was no different. We didn’t even have a computer at home and I had no idea careers in tech were actually a thing. I wanted to be a maths teacher, just like my granddad. This led me to study mathematics.
While my parents were extremely supportive, I was often told “you are wasting your time studying maths, it only leads to teaching and there aren’t even that many teachers’ jobs available”. But I can be very determined when I have my mind set on something and I kept going. I am glad I did, because I became fascinated by the applications of data analytics and predictive modelling while doing a master’s in applied Statistics. This is what kick started my career in data.
You’re a Women in Data Podcast Host and Producer and you also work in data. On your podcasts (which are fantastic, by the way!) you talk with many inspirational and successful women in data. What are the 3 things you think these women have in common?
I believe that the beauty of the podcast lies in the diversity of the guests. They come from different backgrounds, chose different career paths, have different experiences. They are different from each other!
That said, they are all passionate about using data to inform decisions, are curious and enjoy learning. Learning is an important part of careers in data.
What, in your opinion, might make other women hesitant about pursuing a tech career? There are so many Women in Tech initiatives right now (and here we are, adding yet another one) – and yet we are still working to close the diversity gap. What do you think is holding women back?
I can’t speak for all women, so I will speak from my own experience. The challenges I faced in my pursuit of a career in tech were around not having any visibility on such careers growing up, and once I was in the field, struggling to find a role model I could identify to.
I used to sit at my desk and think “What am I doing here? I don’t fit, I have different interests, I think differently”.
According to Women in Data, in the UK, only 27% of data professionals are women. This is very problematic when it comes to finding a role model.
This is what I am trying to address on the Women in Data podcast: bring more transparency on how data is used in various industries and provide others with female role models, knowledge and tools that will help them be successful in their career, no matter what their definition of success is.
What has been the biggest challenge in your career so far?
I feel like the answer is in the previous question
What do you believe that the next generation of women has to do in order to become successful in working in data in the future?
Helping with working in data, but also applicable to any career path – Be curious, embrace learning, find what you want your career to look like, and go for it and own it!
Thank you Karen!
You can follow Karen on Linkedin here and follow the Women in Data podcast on: