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Is consultancy right for you? A journey into data analytics

Elena Falzon works as a Data Analytics Manager in our Internal Audit team, and has worked here for nearly 6 years. Before securing her job here, she worked for multiple consultancy firms, so why did she choose to make the switch from consultancy? I sat down with Elena to find out why, and if making the switch from consultancy has been a positive influence on her work-life balance.

Elena started out her career 11 years ago in an analytics role for a gaming company before swiftly moving into a consultancy role within financial services. It seemingly had everything she wanted – a huge variety of project-based work where she was never working on the same thing two days in a row. It was fast paced, and she was able to see a project through from conception to completion.

It sounds ideal on paper, so after years in consultancy, what made Elena make the decision to join our Internal Audit team?

When making the shift from consultancy, one of Elena’s key requirements for a role was to not be performing the same task day in, day out – variety was crucial for her to feel satisfied in her career. But she also needed a better balance between her working life and her personal life. ‘The consulting world is a lot more competitive, with people stepping over each other to show how many hours they can work in the office, often without adding any extra value.’

How does data analytics add value to a business?

Before we went any further, Elena wanted to check my understanding of data analytics – what it is and why it’s important for any business. When I was unable to give a solid answer, she jumped in and rescued me. ‘Data analytics can mean different things in different circumstances,’ she told me. ‘But the simplest explanation would be leveraging data to either answer a question, solve a problem, or make a prediction.’

The Internal Audit Data Analytics team isn’t there to gather data, Elena clarified – the data is already there and owned by the different business areas. The purpose of Elena’s team is to analyse the data we already have and develop insights based on the results.

How is data analytics changing?

Over recent years, data analytics has developed rapidly. Traditionally, Internal Audit functions were very manual in their approach, but data analytics can help us to save time – it’s a way of us automating tests across a complete population, presenting insights as visualisations, and providing more robust assurance by testing process outcomes.

For context Elena told me about a project her team is working on, ‘building anomaly detection data profiling tools that pick out outliers from data.’ This gives us smarter data samples that bring out insights we wouldn’t find if we took a random sample .

To Elena, this is important. ‘By improving our automation, and upskilling the business audit teams on how they can use this data, we’re able to focus on developing more advanced techniques such as machine learning and AI.’

Why is working in data analytics here great?

Elena loves the challenge of data analytics and describes it as problem solving with a fair bit of autonomy in what she works on. ‘My job is to develop ideas of where data analytics can be used, but to also push back when it wouldn’t add value. There's an element of being able to choose what I work on if it’s beneficial to everyone, so I’m empowered to build the scope of my workstack.’

Elena compared this to her work in consultancy, where she explained there were times you could be allocated work that may not have anything to do with data analytics. If it was what the client was after, then there wasn’t a lot of say in the scope of what you were doing. The size of our business means there is a lot of data to play with, and a lot of insight we can garner from it. But the scale of the bank also means there is scope to move around into other teams, taking the skills you’ve learnt with you, and then picking up some new ones when you’re there.

For Elena, the positive working environment plays a big part in her satisfaction in working here. ‘My managers here have been excellent at making sure that I’m happy in my role and that I’m developing - I’ve learned so much since I’ve joined. The work-life balance is a lot better here too, and people are concerned when you aren't working your regular hours. You can work nine to five and know you’ll do a good job.’

Elena first joined us to have a break from the pace and competitive nature of consultancy. But she’s ended up learning more in her time here than she had before. ‘This is a great place to learn and develop,’ she concluded. ‘And the job is really interesting.’

Are you looking for a different balance between your working and personal life? See what roles in Internal Audit we’ve made live this week.

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