Zuzanna talks about Data Science at Accenture, switching from academia to industry – and how her desire to try new things extends into other aspects of her life.
Digital Analytics is all about using data to help our clients with pretty much anything they can imagine – whether that’s improving their products or services, or generating insights to enhance decision-making. I’m on the Data Science side of Analytics. Essentially, we apply state-of-the-art algorithms and machine learning to huge data sets in order to solve complex business problems. This combination of modern algorithms and data sets allows us to move away from describing the world as it is to predicting what will happen in the future. Data Science relies on technology – and since Accenture is an undisputed technology leader, it is the place to be.
As a self-confessed geek, I find the whole thing fascinating. I really enjoy writing code and solving problems. I’m constantly using my brain, thinking about things others haven’t thought of, trying to answer previously unanswered questions – or researching those that have been answered. The research element was something that I’d experienced in my previous life in academia, but moving to Accenture was a whole new ball game. In academia, it’s quite theoretical and you have the luxury of being able to come up with the ‘nicest’ solution. Moving to Accenture I’ve had to think differently. In industry, you have to find the solution that works best against all sorts of constraints. Everything we do has pounds and pence attached to it and deadlines are far, far tighter.
“I’m constantly thinking about things others haven’t thought of, and trying to answer previously unanswered questions.”
I’ve been at Accenture for less than a year, but my confidence has really grown in this time. So, I was joining this huge global company. Could I add value? How would I hold my own against all these super-smart people? But I’ve had so much encouragement and positive feedback that I can now speak confidently with clients and I’m not afraid to offer my opinions. Nor has being part of a traditionally male world been an issue as I’m surrounded by so many like-minded women.
I’ve thrown myself into community activities too. Last year, I took part in a hackathon organised with Amnesty International looking at the abuse of politicians on Twitter, which really showed the power of data science. I also took part in Teen Tech, an event for schoolchildren – Accenture was the sponsor of the Data Science competition. We gave the children a few data sets to play with and I mentored them on ways to approach using the data, trying to get them thinking about how data is used in everyday life.
There’s still so much to explore in areas such as machine learning and AI, and that suits me to a tee. What motivates me most is learning new things and stretching myself. I enjoy rock climbing and bouldering – every time I go to the bouldering gym, there’s another challenge to solve. I’m also into bread-making, always striving to bake the perfect loaf. And golf: it’s not the most popular sport in my native Poland, which was reason enough for me to give it a go. I suppose that’s the kind of person I am!