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The Dialogue: Keeping Data Secure While Working Flexibly

Last week, Peter Schroeter and Ryan Collins, head of DevSecOps at Upvest, and co-founder of RapidGroup, discussed how to keep Data secure while working flexibly.  Ryan brings to the table 12 years of experience from Server Administrator to CTO roles as well as experience as a Contractor. And as a business owner himself, he sees where the shortage falls and perhaps a way to fill the gap. Security is in the Spotlight Security is a priority for many businesses today. Avoiding negative PR has caused an internal shift in which companies take more care with their Data. There is also a Catch-22. In order to provide higher levels of security, businesses are slowing down their developers and software engineers, and taking more engineering time which in turn costs more money. Security before cost is becoming the new reality. The contradiction of deployment, project run time, and budgets are only part of the bigger picture. Compromise is key and follow these three tenets. Don’t leave anything open to vulnerability.Focus on auditability.Offer more training for Software Engineers. The Security-Focused Skills Gap How can you push security forward in a meaningful way when you can’t find the people you need with relevant experience? There’s a big gap in the market right now for security-oriented DevOps engineers. The skillsets many businesses are looking for include: Google Platform AWS and possibly Azure with a modern suite of tools with Teraform.Ability to float to the development side and work in SRE to ensure things are stable and scalable.DevOps Engineers with experience in the GO stack are especially hard to find. Companies want to go with what they know. However, there is a shift toward a more remote-friendly and contractor culture. When you can’t find the talent you need, sometimes it’s best to bite the bullet, and consider a Contractor. The Case to Hire a Contractor If this year has taught us anything, it’s that we don’t have to be confined to an office or to even one location. And yes, while there is an element of risk to being a Contractor, there are benefits to both sides. Contractors are compensated higher because businesses have lower HR costs, less tax regulations, payroll, and reporting to do.  Though there is some risk, there is always work for because so many companies want to secure their data. There’s always something to be optimised, always something which needs attention. You won’t be without work for long, if you have the skills. Disconnect Between Capability and Desire in the Market Some candidates have mentioned they have 60% of the skills required, but not enough project-based experience. How do you reconcile the disconnect?  It’s hard to specialise in DevOps, DevSecOps, and similar roles because it’s about automation, you have to be that "Swiss Army Knife", you have to live in the middle. You have to know how to get into the code, you have to know how to get in and do the CI workflows, etc. It’s almost Developer plus value-added skills or security engineer plus value-added skills. Remote Working Habits You Need Now Have a separated space set up for work.If you have a mix of people in office and those working remote, you have to make sure they’re communicating with each other.Rolling coffee breaks within Google Meet or something similar.Have a task management and time tracking system used by employees both on and offline.Build culture by picking at random two people and putting them together for a half hour to have a conversation that isn’t about work.  Startup vs Legacy Hiring Don’t box yourself in, but understand startups have a unique set of skills they need and most often without the budget to train someone. Whereas legacy businesses more often than not have the budget to train someone in the skillset they need. However, it’s important to note, the tech stack itself doesn’t really change. Best Practices for Async-Comm Teams Remember not everyone works in the same time zone. Don’t expect and immediate answer, and if you need an immediate answer, pick up the phone. Make sure your team has remote tools such as Slack or Google Meet and is doing most of their communication this way, even if they are in an office. If you don’t, your remote workers could be missing key information. The Future of DevOps and Data Security Many businesses may see a shift toward a more open working environment which is a good balance for what works best for talent and is good for productivity as well. Ultimately, we’re all solving the same challenges What is most important when it comes to keeping Data secure? Most important is getting people, systems, and education in place to do something in the first place. In other words, build from concept rather than moving too fast and breaking too many things. How Can Prospective Candidates Prepare? Focus on continuous learning and getting your skillsets like automation tools. If you really want to get involved with security side and SRE, you really have to get involved with the development side, too. Using the modern tech stacks like the GOLANG, the RUST, the SWIFT on the mobile side, and there’s always new pieces to the puzzle.There’s room for all types of relationships. Whether you’re looking for a long-term role, a short-term role, or something in between, DevOps is a never-ending project, so continuous learning is key for both candidate and company. You can watch the full conversation below:

It Takes Two: Data Architect Meets Data Engineer

Information. Data. The lifeblood of business. Information and data are used interchangeably, gathered, collected, and analysed to create actionable insights for informed business decisions. So, what does that mean exactly? And to that end, how do we know what information or data we need to make those decisions? Enter the Data Architect. The Role of a Data Architect Just like you might hire an architect to sketch out your dreamhouse, the Data Architect is a Data Visionary. They see the full picture and can craft the design and framework creating the blueprint for the Data Engineer, who will ultimately build the digital framework. Data Architects are the puzzle solvers who can take a jumble of puzzle pieces, in this case massive amounts of data, and put everything in order. It’s their job to figure out what’s important and what isn’t based on an organisation's business objectives. Skills for a Data Architect might include: Computer Science degree, or some variation thereof.Plenty of experience working with systems and application development.Extensive knowledge and able to deep dive into Information ManagementIf you’re just starting your Data Architect path, be prepared for years of building your experience in data design, data storage, and Data Management. The Role of a Data Engineer The Data Engineer builds the vision and brings it to life. But they don’t work in a vacuum and are integral to the Data Team working nearly in tandem with the Data Architect. These engineers are building the infrastructure – the pipelines and data lakes. Once exclusive to the software-engineering field, the data engineer’s role has evolved exponentially as data-focused software became an industry standard. Important skills for a Data Engineer might include. Strong developer skills.Understand a host of technologies such as Python, R, Hadoop, and moreCraft projects to show what you can do, not just talk about what you can do – your education isn’t much of a factor when it comes to data engineering. On the job training does it best.Social and communication skills are critical as you map initial designs, and a love of learning keeps everything humming along, even as technology libraries shift, and you have to learn something new. The Major Differences between the Data Architect and Data Engineer RolesAs intertwined as these two roles might seem, there are some crucial differences. Data Architect Crafts concept and visualises frameworkLeads the Data Science teams Data Engineer Builds and maintains the frameworkProvides supporting framework With a focus on Database Management technologies, it can seem as though Data Architect and Data Engineer are interchangeable. And at one time, Data Architects did also take on the Data Engineering role. But the knowledge each has is used differently.  Whether you’re looking to enter the field of Data Engineering, want to move up or over with your years of experience to Data Architect, or are just starting out. Harnham may have a role for you. Check out our current opportunities or get in touch with one of our expert consultants to learn more.  

Trade Analysts Keep Money Flowing on the Field

What if you could manage risk and build a winning team the way Billy Bean does in Moneyball? If you’ve never seen the movie, it’s essentially this. You don’t need the best to win, the players who will cost you the most money or who are the most popular. You need players whose sole skill is to get on base. When it comes to the world of finance, how might you manage risk and find ways to get on base so to speak?  You may want to consider a Trade Analyst. Conversely, if you’re a data professional who’s got a nose for numbers, predictions, and the aptitude to get on base yourself, you may want to consider this as your next role. Not unlike so many Data Analyst jobs, you’re using Data to determine risk as well as deep dive into SWOT (strengths, weakness, obstacles, and threats) for your business. You’ll be managing statistics and pinpointing the best times of the day for optimal trading.  A Key Player in the World of Trade Much like a stockbroker begins when the markets open, so too, does a Trade Analyst. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to run point between the stockholders and those for whom they’re buying and selling.  Looking for puzzle solvers with an eye for detail and investigation, this role offers work with people from around the world. And as we continue, or as this year comes to a close, begin to cement our remote working opportunities, the world opens a host of opportunities for this role and many like it. What You Need to Know Buzz words abound in the data space and the classification for Trade Analyst can also be Financial Services Agent. Perhaps FSA is better as it gives a much more concise idea of what the job entails. However, Trader Analyst likens to a version of a Stock Broker who can drill down to the sharpest point what works, what will sell, what won’t, and how to fix what won’t work to what will.  While education is important for this role, the soft skills so in demand will be required here, too. Can you be the calm in the chaos? Does making the sale motivate you? Can you think on your feet? If you answered yes to any of these questions, here are a few education and skills components you’ll need to know. Degree in international business is a good place to start as is a degree in finance, economics, or logisticsAdd in a second language for good measureStrong research skills.Understanding financial trends within and across geographic regionsUnderstanding supply and demandHighly communicative with staff, executives, stakeholders, and the public. Not unlike a language professional who roles easily from a foreign language to English and back again, a Trade Analyst must be able to translate numbers and predictions into the language of persuasive bargaining. Market analysis conducted through such platforms as polls and surveys. This role offers job security for the professional who comes alive in a fast-paced environment within the world of business. Your wallet and bank account may thank you, too.  Going to the Show In baseball, going to the show implies you’re in the major leagues. That you’ll perform on the field of a major league team. You’re officially ‘on stage’. And so, it is with your role, even entry-level, of a Trade Analyst. From the moment you’re in the office and the phone rings to the final closing bell of the exchange, you’re on the field, and playing with the heavy hitters. You’ll identify risk, engage with customers, pay attention to the score, er deliverables and expectations, all the while staying in compliance with regulations.  If you’re looking for a role in Data & Analytics or are interested in finance or international trade analysis, we may have a role for you. Take a look at our latest opportunities or get in touch with one of our expert consultants to learn more.  

Risk Analytics & Your Job Search

Risk Analysis is a daily part of our decision-making process. Its influences are felt in how we prioritise projects. Hello, project management. It determines when we take breaks. And in the working from home or remote working culture, lines between personal and professional life are soon blurred. Our decision-making ratchets through microanalyses of next steps, words to use, when to log off the computer, and what time to make lunch or dinner. Almost without realising it, we're using the SWOT matrix determine risk. That's just in our personal day-to-day lives. Organisations have been using these strategic planning techniques as a daily part of their enterprise lives. So, imagine this. You determine your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) to write your CV, land the interview, and get the job. Aren't you already on your way to helping your company determine their risk on a bigger scale?  Isn't Risk Analysis the Same as SWOT? Not exactly. While you are identifying, measuring, and analysing issues, the idea is to avoid or lessen risk. In the movie War Games, the main character decides he's going to play a game. But, neither the computer nor the main character understands the game is not a game. They have no idea what risk they've unleashed as keystrokes begin to lead to war.  Militaries use Risk Analysis regularly to determine if war should begin, estimated casualties and cost just for a start. But, in the end, it's usually decided peace keeps the world away from war after all the risk has been analysed. Though most businesses and individuals don't have the risk of war at their doorstep, there are extenuating circumstances which must be determined to avoid risk. This can be anything from natural disasters to legislation to physical requirements and locations. The SWOT technique is a tool within strategic planning as are Risk Analytics. Let's take a look at the benefits of Risk Analysis.  It can help your business improve security, manage costs, and plan for any surprises. Whether it helps you in your job search or manage your business once you're hired, a combination of SWOT and Risk Analytics can help your decision-making process shine. Done well, Risk Analysis is an important tool for managing costs associated with risks, as well as for aiding an organisation's decision-making process. SWOT your way to a Successful Job Search So, first, let's take a look at what SWOT is and isn't. This type of analysis is a tool most often found in strategic planning for organisations. But, it's not the only tool when assessing risk. Like any data profession, you'll want to gather, collect, and analyse the information before you. And when it comes to the job search, knowing yourself and your self-awareness levels may play a bigger part than you imagine. Skipping ahead to the interview from your 'foot in the door' CV and cover letter both delivered via video, of course, you begin to plan for your interview. "What are your biggest strengths and weaknesses?" your hiring manager asks. You've come well-prepared for this question because you've done your SWOT analysis. From the moment you decided your areas of expertise, your roles in organisations, and any areas you know you need to improve but can turn into a positive. You've pre-assessed your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities or obstacles, and threats. Strengths – What characteristics do you possess which gives you an advantage over your competition? Have you cross-trained across a variety of departments? Do you have a knack for telling a compelling data narrative story to help make leadership make an informed decision? Weaknesses – Where could you use more training? Are you looking for a business that offers it in-house or do you need a certification or class to give you a leg up over your competition? What puts you at a disadvantage and how would find a work around? What can you do to improve? Opportunities or Obstacles – Has your experience taught you a new way of doing things within the industry? Does your experience extend from working alone to strong member of a team? Was the team in-house or scattered around the world? How did it affect your working style and what did you learn from it? Threats – Threats may seem at odds with a job search, but…that was then. This is now. Threats are simply external forces which cause trouble in your planning. In other words, this is your risk assessment. What risks are involved and of those risks which will have less effect and which will have more on your desired outcome? Performing this technique in your personal and professional life helps you peel back the layers of you. What has your education prepared you for? Your work experience? The projects you've chosen or been assigned to? It's all leading somewhere, right? This is where you match your strengths to opportunities. Hello, dream job. If you're looking for your next role in the Data & Analytics, we may have a job for you. Take a look at our current opportunities or get in touch with one of our expert consultants to learn more.  

Best Practices in Open Data Collaboration

Over the past year, pick up any paper. Flip to any news channel. Read any news reports. And you’ll notice a common theme. Data. Specifically, all the Data we use to help us determine elections (albeit with less and less accuracy), track pandemic cases, and even measure the health of our businesses. We all know Data is important. But the question is, what Data matters most?  If we’re not collecting the right Data, our predictions and forecasting could be skewed.  Seven Ways to Help You Make the Most of Your Data Here are a few things to consider when collecting the information needed to make an informed decision. Clarify your goals.Determine who will conduct the analysis once the Data is gathered and what should be expected of the results.Set indicators to help measure your results.Use the same variables as your collaborators. When the CDC, the WHO, and a variety of hospitals and healthcare providers around the world banded together to track pandemic cases, it was important they all used the same variables in their data. Ask the right questions. Determine what it is you need to know and focus your questions to that end.Feedback Offers Insight. In our remote working world, it’s more important than ever to communicate with team members both locally and globally. Offer and accept feedback to improve your data.Secure your data. The above offer best practices and things to keep in mind. But having open Data and Data collaboration offers more than teambuilding. When diverse voices, backgrounds, and ideas gather, we can create more broadly. We find solutions we didn’t see before.  Machine Learning, AI, and Sharing Can Move the World Whether we’re sharing Data to improve our city planning infrastructures to such global operations as environmental collaborations, we work better together. Opportunities which allow organisations to share Data can lead to economic, social justice, and environmental solutions the world over.  Just like we soak up information to learn, so too, do machines and AI. These systems need data to learn and grow. These learning systems improve with new and updated information. It is a collaborative effort between human and machine. When we ask the right questions, use the same variables as our collaborators, and have clear goals of our desired objectives, these technologies can help us make better, more informed decisions.  Data collaboration has shown us what can be accomplished when we have the right information. We gain new perspectives, new ideas, and new ways of doing things to find solutions for challenges we may face. If you’re looking to take your next step in the Data & Analytics industry, we may have a role for you. Take a look at our latest opportunities or get in touch with one of our expert consultants to learn more.  

SEVEN BLACK TECH PIONEERS YOU MAY NOT HAVE HEARD OF

The Black community is significantly under-represented in the Data & Analytics industry. According to our most recent Diversity Report, professionals from a Black background account for just 3% of the industry as a whole. They are also 19 times more likely to hold an entry- or mid-level position than a leadership role, a far greater disparity than found in any other ethnic group. With the fact that diverse teams yield better business results now widely acknowledged, this inequality within the world of Data & Analytics, and Tech as a whole, is something that needs to be addressed. At Harnham, we are committed to working with a diverse pool of candidates and promoting equal opportunities. We are also aware that change needs to be systemic in order to make any real difference across the industry and, for that to happen, we need to recognise where there are currently problems.However, we also feel it is important to celebrate successes and to highlight successful and diverse voice across the industry. So, with Black History Month drawing to a close in the UK, we wanted to take the time to reflect on some of the most influential Black pioneers from the world of Tech: GEORGE R. CARRUTHERS Born in 1939, African American George Carruthers played a significant role in the engineering and science of space astronomy. Most famously, he is known for his invention of the Far Ultraviolet Electrographic Camera. Developed in 1966, the camera uses ultraviolet light to study both the Earth’s outer-atmosphere and deep space, providing the first-ever global images of the former. KATHERINE JOHNSON Fans of the film ‘Hidden Figures’ will be familiar with the name Katherine Johnson, due to her portrayal by Taraji P. Henson. Working in the Computing section at NASA, Johnson played a pivotal role in the US’ early attempts to send a man into space, in particular by calculating several equations that would ensure astronaut John Glenn’s safe orbital mission in 1962. She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America’s highest civilian honour by President Barack Obama in 2015.    MARC HANNAH It could be said that Marc Hannah is the man behind the superheroes that dominate our multiplexes today. An electrical engineer and computer graphics designer, Hannah was a co-founder of Silicon Graphics, Inc. He went on to become the company’s principal scientist for a series of pioneering programs that were used to create effects for numerous movies including Jurassic Park and Terminator 2. MARK DEAN Computer Scientist Mark Dean is internationally lauded for developing a number of landmark technologies at IBM. Holding three of the company’s original nine patents, his most renown inventions include the colour PC monitor and the first gigahertz chip. He was the first African American to be named an IBM Fellow as has been inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame. MAGGIE ADERIN-POCOCK Born in London to Nigerian parents, Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock MBE is one of Britain’s leading minds in the field of space exploration. One of her most significant contributions is the spectrograph built for the Gemini telescope in Chile, which allow scientists to analyse the light from stars and gain insights into their properties. She also places a large emphasis on educating Black youth in STEM subjects to encourage greater diversity in the field.   NIRA CHAMBERLAIN Birmingham-based Dr Nira Chamberlain is one of Britain’s leading mathematicians and was listed as the “5th Most Influential Black Person in the UK”.   Chamberlain has developed several mathematical solutions that have impacted the worlds of aerospace and defence, travel and automotive, and the energy sector. Having been named the World’s Most Interesting Mathematician, he now frequently engages with the charity, Speakers for Schools. KIMBERLY BRYANT African American electrical engineer Kimberly Bryant is the founder and CEO of Black Girls Who Code, a non-profit focused on increasing the presence of “girls of color ages 7 to 17” in STEM. Having begun her career in Biotech, Bryant noticed a dearth of female African American talent in the STEM arena and blamed lack of access and lack of exposure. Black Girls Who Code is trying to remedy this by introducing programming to a new generation of coders that don’t look identical to the last. Diversity drives innovation and accelerates businesses and enterprises towards their missions. As such, Harnham is committed to increasing diversity and maintaining a progressive and inclusive workplace, both for ourselves and for the organisations we support. If you’re looking to hire a more diverse team, get in touch with one of our expert consultants to find out how we can help.If you’re a Data & Analytics professional, from any background, looking for your next opportunity, you can take a look at our latest roles here.

Using A ‘Data First’ Approach In Your Data Science Job Search

The litany of past jobs, education, and business goals has and is quickly becoming a thing of the past. With millions out of work, the rise of remote working, and the continued high demand for those in the Data industry field, CVs today must be much more dynamic. And, for the innovative Data Scientist, there are plenty of ways to stand out from the crowd. If you’re interested in working in Data First environments, why not use the idea to inform your job search? Consider this. When you begin your search, you’re using many of the same tactics you’d use in any role – assess, analyse, gather, improve, and control. Want to Make a Career Change? Assess the Situation. While more Data professionals are staying in their roles longer than in previous years, there do come times when it’s time to make a change. Maybe you want to get a fresh start somewhere for more creative expression. Maybe you want to be a strong leader who wears a variety of hats, but you’re dug in to your current role. So, what do you do? If you’re on the fence, you assess the situation. Here are a few steps you might follow: Review your CV – with which business processes and technical systems do you have experience? Determine which roles interest you and why – do you need more education, a new skill, or does the company you’re interested in offer on the job training, upskilling, or reskilling?Research the role you’re interested in – your desired outcome - and breakdown any challenges into actionable efforts you can make to get the job.Gather as much Data as possible to not only help with any adjustments to your CV, but to include in your cover letter. Remember, what was once on paper and emailed or delivered can now be done by video. After all, your next goal is likely a Zoom interview. Maybe you’ve gone a bit further and created a mind map of your goals, experiences, and processes. If so, you’ve got the beginnings of your job search model. Putting Your Job Search into Action to Improve Your Chances You’ve gotten much of the preparatory legwork done. Now, it’s time to get things moving and test the market.  Perhaps you’ve got a spreadsheet or are keeping a journal of companies you’d like to work or roles you’d like to take on. You’ve researched their website pages, gotten the hiring managers information, and have crafted your cover letter and CV to fit the job you’re most interested in. Have you sent out your information or made connections in your field? Are you getting a good response or only a trickle? This is the improvement phase. This is where you tweak things. How? Have a friend or recruiter review your CV – are their typos? Do you meet the right qualifications? Are you over or under-qualified? Is there anything they think you could add which might help? Did you follow the application instructions correctly? Did they request a video resume and you sent them paper or vice versa?Have you addressed any feedback you’ve received from hiring managers, recruiters, friends, or colleagues? When you figure out where and what to improve, you can move forward more proactively. Many businesses want a professional who can address issues specific to a project or difficult situation. Determine what needs to change and fix it with an eye toward improving the process in the future. Taking Control of Your Job Search Looking for a job can often feel like the employers have all the power, but that’s not necessarily the case. When the reigns are tightened and your focus is sharp, you have more control than you think. After all, you’ve done much of the legwork many won’t think to do. You’ve assessed your situation, your processes, and your systems – networking, job board, or contract work to try new things and gain new experience. You’ve determined your gaps and closed them. What you’ve learned along the way has helped you not only in your job search, but has given you insight into your ideal role. If you’re looking for a career change, and have followed a Data first approach, your newly embedded processes and goals will streamline into whatever you choose to do. The best part? It drives your own ROI. The time invested in yourself and in conducting your job search with such focus can only bring about good things. If you’re looking for your next role in Data & Analytics, Harnham can help you search and prepare. Take a look at our latest opportunities or get in touch with one of our expert consultants to learn more.  

From Broken Data Pipelines to Broken Data Headlines

This week's guest post is written by Moray Barclay. Two things have caused the UK’s Test & Trace application to lose 16,000 Covid-19 test results, both of which are close to my heart. The first is the application’s data pipeline, which is broken. The second is a lack of curiosity. The former does not necessarily mean that a data application will fail. But when compounded by the latter it is certain. Data Pipelines All data applications have several parts, including an interesting part (algorithms, recently in the news), a boring part (data wrangling, never in the news), a creative part (visualisation, often a backdrop to the news), and an enabling part (engineering, usually misunderstood by the news).  Data engineering, in addition to the design and implementation of the IT infrastructure common to all software applications, includes the design and implementation of the data pipeline. As its name suggests, a data pipeline is the mechanism by which data is entered at one end of a data application and flows through the application via various algorithms to emerge in a very different form at the other end. A well architected data application has a single pipeline from start to finish. This does not mean that there should be no human interaction with the data as it travels down the pipeline but it should be limited to actions which can do no harm. Human actions which do no harm include: pressing buttons to start running algorithms or other blocks of code, reading and querying data, and exporting data to do manual exploratory or forensic analysis within a data governance framework. The data pipeline for Test & Trace will look something like this:    a patient manually fills out a web-form, which automatically updates a patient listfor each test, the laboratory adds the test result for that patientthe lab sends an Excel file to Public Health England with the ID’s of positive patientsPHE manually transpose the data in the Excel file to the NHS Test & Trace systemthe NHS T&T system pushes each positive patient contact details to NHS T&T agentsfor each positive patient, an NHS T&T contact centre agent phones them. This is a not a single pipeline because in the middle a human being needs to open up an editable file and transpose it into another file. The pipeline is therefore broken, splitting at the point at which the second Excel file is manually created. If you put yourself in the shoes of the person receiving one of these Excel files, you can probably identify several ways in which this manual manipulation of data could lead to harm. And it is not just the data which needs to be moved manually from one side of the broken pipeline to the other side, it is the associated data types, and CSV files can easily lose data type information. This matters. You may have experienced importing or exporting data with an application which changes 06/10/20 to 10/06/20. Patient identifiers should be of data type text, even if they consist only of numbers, for future-proofing. Real numbers represented in exponential format should, obviously, be of a numeric data type. And so on. One final point: the different versions of Excel (between the Pillar 2 laboratories and PHE) are a side-show, because otherwise this implies that had the versions been the same, then everything would be fine. This is wrong. The BBC have today reported that “To handle the problem, PHE is now breaking down the test result data into smaller batches to create a larger number of Excel templates. That should ensure none hit their cap.” This solves the specific Excel incompatibility problem (assuming the process of creating small batches is error-free) but has no bearing on the more fundamental problem of the broken data pipeline, which will stay until the manual Excel manipulation is replaced by a normal and not particularly complex automated process. Curiosity So where does curiosity fit in? The first thing that any Data Analyst does when they receive data is to look at it. This is partly a technical activity, but it is also a question of judgement and it requires an element of curiosity. Does this data look right? What is the range between the earliest and the latest dates? If I graph one measurement over time (in this case positive tests over time), does the line look right? If I graph two variables (such as Day Of Week versus positive tests) what does the scatter chart look like? Better still, if I apply regression analysis to the scatter chart what is the relationship between the two variables and within what bounds of confidence? How does that relate to the forecast? Why? This is not about skills. If I receive raw data in csv format I would open it in a python environment or an SQL database. But anyone given the freedom to use their curiosity can open a csv file in Notepad and see there are actually one million rows of data and not 65,000. Anyone given the freedom to use their curiosity can graph data in Excel to see whether it has strange blips. Anyone given the freedom to use their curiosity can drill down into anomalies. Had those receiving the data from the Pillar 2 laboratories been allowed to focus some of their curiosity at what they were receiving they would have spotted pretty quickly that the 16,000 patient results were missing. As it was, I suspect they were not given that freedom: I suspect they were told to transpose as much data as they could as quickly as possible, for what could possibly go wrong? Single Data Pipeline, Singular Curiosity: Pick At Least One To reiterate, the current problems with T&T would never have arisen with a single data pipeline which excluded any manual manipulation in Excel. But knowing that the data pipeline was broken and manual manipulation was by design part of the solution, the only way to minimise the risk was to encourage people engaged in that manual process to engage their curiosity about the efficacy of the data they were manipulating. In their prototype phases – for that is the status of the T&T application - data projects will sometimes go wrong. But they are much more likely to go wrong if the people involved, at all levels, do not have enough time or freedom to think, to engage their curiosity, and to ask themselves “is this definitely right?” You can view Moray's original article here.  Moray Barclay is an Experienced Data Analyst working in hands-on coding, Big Data analytics, cloud computing and consulting.

Meet Women In Data: Kirsty Garshong

Slowly but surely, we have seen the gender gap across the Data Science sphere closing year on year. In fact, we were pleased to report that women make up 30 per cent of the industry in 2020, a large uptick of 5 per cent from 2019.  Whilst we’re edging closer to that desirable 50/50 split of men and women, it’s hard to ignore the issues that persist in the gender gap. A large proportion of women in the industry are at entry-level, and this has a big bearing on the problem, resulting in a gender pay gap that is above the national average in the Data Science sector; for every £1 a man earns, a woman earns only 89p.  Here at Harnham, we want to go further than just reporting on the state of play, we want to be catalysts for change. It’s all well and good that these damning statistics are reported on and brought to the attention of the public eye, but if we go no further than this, how can we expect change to happen? We would like to welcome you to our newest series: "Meet Women in Data". A platform for incredible women in Data, and their male advocates, from across the globe to share their insights into the industry; its highs and lows, its challenges and wonders, and the steps we need to take to ensure diversity continues to be at the top of the priority list for the future generations of Data Scientists. To kick things off, we spoke to Kirsty Garshong, Senior Manager for Contract Recruitment at Harnham.  About Kirsty Hi, I’m Kirsty, one of the Senior Managers here at Harnham, and I’ve been part of the UK contract team for six years, now heading up our Diversity Committee.   I must admit, when I first joined the company, I thought the job was hard, and most days I really lacked confidence. I simply couldn’t get my head around the tech. However, as time passed, and as I spoke to the candidates I dealt with, as well as my colleagues and others within the industry, I began to make sense of it all.  The struggle to grasp the technicalities wasn’t the only thing. I did feel my gender hindered me. A lot of the candidates I dealt with were men who were incredibly transactional and rather uninterested in what I had to say, something my male colleagues didn’t struggle with at all.  It took a while to learn, but the only way to deal with this was to make it very clear as to what the benefits of speaking to me were, and I learned to meet abrasiveness with directness. Looking back on those first months, I feel incredibly proud that I persevered. Knowing what I know now, acknowledging how underrepresented women are in the industry, to be one of the few who can speak up, speak out and make a difference is fantastic. And anyway, I ended up being quite good at the job! How do you think the industry perceives women in the tech space?   I think we’re like gold dust, especially in recent years. There’s not as many of us compared to our male counterparts, and we’re highly sought after. This positive approach to women has most certainly changed for the better. Even in my six short years of working, we weren’t always seen as such an asset. A few years ago, women would have to fit around companies, not the other way around. We had to have the right goals, the ‘correct’ outlook on life and we had to benefit our superiors; there was no question of how companies could benefit us, or how they could support our personal and professional development. How do you think those outside of the industry perceive women who work in tech?   There’s certainly a stigma, not necessarily a negative one but you’re definitely seen as an exception to the rule. It’s widely known that the industry is male dominated and so, as a woman in tech, you’re expected to be a female who doesn’t have traditional female values, like wanting a family. Of course, this is inherently incorrect. I know that this stereotype arises from the very nature of the job. We work in a demanding industry of long hours which requires an extremely high level of skill in order to succeed. So, if you were to take time out and not keep up with your learning, it’s highly likely that you could fall behind and not be able to fulfil the expected demands on return.  But it’s not just women that take time out, men do too, so why is there the assumption that it’s only maternity leave that runs the risk of dropping a couple of balls?  Ultimately, whether you’re a man or a woman who takes time out (for whatever reason) and don’t take personal responsibility to keep up with the ever-changing curve of tech, you’ll fall behind. Do you, or have you, come against any issues in the sector because of your gender?   I went to a meeting once with someone I managed - he was new, and we were meeting with a male stakeholder. Despite being said stakeholder’s only point of contact long before my junior colleague came on board, the stakeholder only addressed him. Any questions or topics of conversations, he simply wouldn’t regard me.  When we sat down, I then explained who I was, and he looked very embarrassed. He didn’t acknowledge what he had done or apologise, but for the rest of the meeting he was very meek. Currently, for every £1 a man earns, a woman earns 89p. What are your thoughts on this?   I think it’s absolutely ridiculous. What can a man do that a woman cannot if facilitated in the right way? If I’m on a level playing field with a male counterpart, I should be paid the same. End of story. Why do you think it’s important that there is a good representation of women in tech?   A woman can do anything a man can do in tech. There’s nothing biological about the job, it’s all reliant on skill but unfortunately, there’s still this ingrained idea that tech is a man’s job.  Despite this stereotype, some of the best data scientists were women, they quite literally changed the world. But without diversity, the number of girls looking to take-up and apply for STEM-based subjects at school and university will decline. Unfortunately, women won’t want to be trapped in an industry perceived as a ‘boys club’.  We need to continue to work hard to inspire the younger female generation and create a balanced gender split across the whole industry, and that’s only going to happen if women are the face of data as much as men are.  During your time within tech, has the gender conversation changed? It’s become very much an expectation that employers have a mixed list of genders when it comes to the recruitment process. If I was to give a client a candidate list made up of just men, I am confident the client would push back on the lack of diversity. Even just six years ago, this would not have been the case. In fact, more questions would probably have been asked if there were several women on the list around whether we had stressed the role would be in a highly pressured environment with long hours.  There is still a very low number of women in tech. What more do you think could be done to change this?   I think employers need to start to look inwards at themselves. Do they know what they’re do-ing to help diversify their business, do they know exactly what they’re doing to attract candidates and, most importantly, are they aware of what women want from an employer? In Harnham’s most recent Diversity and Inclusion report, we found that the top five important working benefits for women are: the option to work from home, a bonus scheme, health insurance, enhanced pension contributions and an education or training allowance. Employers that don’t offer these benefits are discounting a large pool of female talent.  It’s not always the case however that employers don’t offer these sought-after benefits, it’s that employers don’t bring awareness to them, so potential employees simply have no knowledge of them. For example, this year in the UK, only 22 per cent of employees knew about their company’s parental leave scheme. We also need to address the way women are recruited into tech. STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) are not the only areas Data Science candidates can come from, but this is where they are most widely recruited from. We need to change and update this conversation. For example, having a marketing degree can set up you up for a great career within data marketing and insights if given the correct training on programming.  What do you love most about working in tech?  We live in an ever-changing world and tech is undeniably at the heart of everything that we do – from Apple Pay to Track and Trace – it’s part of every process. It’s amazing to be a facilitator of this.  I also love speaking to clients and hearing about their pain points and, with my knowledge and expertise, being able to offer tangible solutions.  Does being a woman give you any advantages in the tech sphere?    I think those inherently female skills, such as empathy and the ability to listen and understand on an emotional level, have certainly helped me in tech. I can make those around me feel like we’re working together, not against one another - which is very common between two males within the industry.  Who is your biggest role model for women in tech and why?   Sunmee Jang – she works for Sony Playstation as its Global Analytics Manager. She is one of the best people I’ve ever come across in tech, woman or man! She is incredibly solutions-focused and intelligent, running a team that produces some of the best games in the world.    Not only does she hold impressive skills, her kindness is second-to-none. She is empathetic, lighthearted and just an all-round lovely human being.  For the next generation of women in tech, what advice would you give?   Think about what you actually want from a career and how the company you're interviewing for fits with that. Look at what the deal breakers are for you and don’t be afraid to ask companies if they offer those things.  Men are traditionally more likely to demand and negotiate, whereas women aren’t.  However, I would encourage you to do so. It’s not unprofessional to know what you’re looking for in a role. In fact, I would argue it’s an attractive quality in any candidate as you will come across as driven.  Also, don’t be afraid to shout about your technological achievements! Make a log of these for potential employers as examples when interviewing to open more doors for yourself. So even if you have a gap in your career, your achievements make up for it - don't give anyone an excuse to deny you from that role or promotion. 

The Dialogue: The Importance of Location Intelligence

For the latest episode of The Dialogue, Associate Director Talitha Boitel-Gill sat down with Alistair Dickinson from Location Intelligence platform Mapsimise about their platform, CRM in general, and how to get Data Vis to work for you. Here's what we learnt: - Location marketing provides the ability to understand customer Data in much more detail by breaking things down by region and area. - By taking this approach, businesses are able to tailor their marketing in a much more specific way.  - Particularly with local lockdown restrictions in place across the UK, this allows businesses to better plan their local strategies.  - The way Analytics has evolved has meant that Data Vis skills are more important than ever.  - Is is essential that those working in this space are able to create Data Visualisations that allow them to explain findings to non-technical stakeholders in a clear way.  - In particular, the ability to overlay different types of Data can allow a broader understanding of the market.  - CRM systems need to be implemented properly, with good Data, in order to be valuable. Only about 10-15% of businesses do this.  - Businesses need to understand their customers now more than ever, and a strong CRM is a great foundation for this.  - Because the Location Intelligence space is set to grow rapidly, businesses will be looking for more and more insight from specialists in this field.  - There is lots of great Open Source Data available for free. Geoawesomeness provide lots of learning and free materials. The UK Government's Geospatial Commission also provides access to lots of free public Data.  - Those looking to get in to this area don't necessarily need a STEM degree, just a passion for Data and the motivation to upskill in their spare time. - And much, much more.  You can watch the full conversation below. If you're looking for a new opportunity, take a look at our latest roles or get in touch with one of our expert consultants to find out more. 

The Dialogue: IR35 - What You Need To Know

For the latest episode of The Dialogue, Associate Director Dan Lewis sat down with Andy Dagnall from Contract insurance specialists Kingsbridge to talk all thing IR35. Here's what we learnt: - Understanding your current workforce and who your contractors are should be the first step for any business looking into IR35.  - Businesses should be set up better now there has been a delay. Getting IR35 right in the current economic is so much more important than it was the first time round. - Blanket bans on contracting don't factor in the risks of projects not being completed and loss of talent.  - The Public Sector tried blanket bans and they didn't work. They've now bounced back by embracing a new way of working.   - There are online tools to help determine a contractor's status in regards to IR35 and Harnham have our own tool for this stage of the process.  - Collaboration will be key for both businesses and contractors. Working with third parties will help make the process easier.  - It is almost essential that contractors take out insurance to mitigate the risk of a wrongful determination.  - Status determination can change throughout a project. An inside determination at one stage of a project won't necessarily stay that way for the duration.  - Contractors will have more trust in businesses that have a robust process in place.  - Contractors can get a working practices review done now so they can approach recruiters or businesses with an understanding of where they will fall with IR35.  - The most important thing in a status determination is being honest.  - And much, much more.  You can watch the full conversation below:

Is Contract Work For You?

Remote work. Working from home. Flexible options. Contract work. The opportunities are endless in every industry when it comes to ways to work, but for Data professionals, its benefits are expounded. Consider this. You’ve been in the Machine Learning vertical for a number of years, but your interests are drawn towards Robotics. How do you make the leap? How do you know it’s for you? What if you could ‘try before you buy’? If the current job climate has you reassessing where you are and where you want to be, you may want to think about contract work. It gives you the perfect opportunity to join a new project, lead a new project, or recharge yourself with new ideas from a different location. Three Benefits of Contract Work Demand – Data professionals are always in high demand, and those with the balance of technical and soft skills have an even higher Steady Pay - Steady daily, weekly, or monthly pay for a finite amount of time.Flexibility – While how we work has changed, there are still elements of flexibility to entice even the most flexible options.  The three options above may not seem like much in the grand scheme of things these days, but imagine the possibilities.  It may seem like the best option is to keep your head down and hold on tight, but let’s imagine a scenario. You’re facing a problem at work that you’ve been trying to solve for weeks or months. You can feel an answer forming, but there’s something blocking you. The problem needs to be solved, but it’s something you can take a break from. Vacation is out of the question. After all, where would you go? Now, let’s imagine there’s a company who needs someone with your expertise. It’s a different project. A different team. A completely new environment. They don’t need a full-time employee, just someone who can step in and see what the others can’t. Or someone who can step in and lead a team for project of a day, a month, 3-6 months or more.  You join the team and over time, you’re surprised to discover, the answer escaping you from your permanent company has found its way to you. It’s a win-win. You feel refreshed, recharged, and if you’ve done well, you now have a choice. Do you go back to your old company or do you join the new company you’ve been working with for the last few months? Three Things To Be Aware Of In Contract It is, by its very nature, not permanent.Your salary isn’t guaranteed or steady over the course of a year. Flexibility is a double-edged sword giving both contract workers and employers the opportunity to change course at the drop of a hat. Data professionals are not only in demand, but those who have been in the industry for five years or more have more options than most. You are the professionals who can move into Contract work to refresh the way you work, find yourself recharged, and ready for whatever may come your way. You’ve worked with global and local teams on a variety of projects. You’ve joined or lead teams outside your comfort zone. You’ve gotten to experience another vertical within your industry. Where will your next steps take you? If you're looking for your next role in Data & Analytics, Contract or otherwise, we may be able to help. Take a look at our latest opportunities or get in touch with one of our expert consultants to find out more. 

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