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June 08, 2022
Experimenting with BAD Science
By: Angela Heeler

Experimenting with BAD Science

I’m studying for a PhD at Royal Holloway, which is part of the University of London. As part of my studies, we are given the opportunity to pursue an internship, so when I came across the internship offered by the Turing Institute and Accenture, I was intrigued. The specific remit of my internship is to look at the intersection between behavioural and data sciences. This is a relatively new field, but it is becoming more important and high-profile as it offers such potential.

My PhD is focused on information security and small businesses. That brings together the fields of technology, psychology, and criminology. So, the combination of behavioural and data science appealed to me as areas that complemented my academic work, but from a different perspective.

My background is in technology. I worked in oil and gas on the IT side of things and then supported small businesses with technology. I worked overseas for 10 years, in Russia and Dubai, and then when I returned to the UK, I became more interested in data security and recovery, which led me to a Masters and now onto my PhD.

My work as an intern has been to research and write a white paper that explores how the merger of behavioural science and data science into BAD Science could provide value and richness for both approaches. Because it’s a nascent area for research, I initially had to identify where in Accenture there were people working on data science projects with a behavioural element and behaviourally-driven projects with data science elements. That meant working in both Applied Intelligence and Talent and Organization teams.

Working at the intersection of these two disciplines in BAD Science has great potential. At the moment, there are two distinct cultures, and few people have a foot in both the data and behavioural camps. But the future is to create far more value from the vast quantities of data that companies possess, meaning that we will see the two disciplines come closer together. What today is multidisciplinary will become interdisciplinary, and Accenture will be in a leading position to lead that change, offering new solutions to clients that will offer them deeper insights and new perspectives of their customers.

When I began my work, I started with just a few contacts. But I quickly found that people were very happy to talk with me and give me their time to explain what they were doing. While everyone is busy with their day job, they were interested in what I was doing and very energetic in their responses. It’s a very supportive culture that places a real emphasis on learning.

Because this is an innovative area of research, there are at the moment only small pockets across Accenture globally where developments are taking place. But during my six months I was able to build up a network. I spoke to people in the Nordics, North America, Germany, and India – and it was fascinating for me to see the different working practices across the organisation and how different parts of it operate. It was also the first time that I have worked in a consulting business, so that was also eye-opening, and I have gained a good impression of what a career here might offer. While my research for this project is in a different area to my PhD, the approach that I’ve taken and the skills I’ve developed will definitely be useful when I get back to my own research.

Thanks to the pandemic, I’ve spent most of my time working remotely. But I have had the chance to get into the office and I was surprised that I really felt I had gotten to know people I’d worked with as well as the other interns that joined through the Turing programme. Overall, it’s been a very positive experience for me. I’d like to think that the work I’ve done will have a real impact, and I have certainly gained a lot from my time here.

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