My Journey with Numbers
My story starts in the South of India and by the time I turned 18, I had lived in 7 cities, studied in 8 academic institutions and covered all 4 zones of the country (yes, I am multilingual). I moved to Singapore in 2014 to do my masters and have been here ever since. Now as you can imagine – having had this multi-cultural experience helped increase my exposure to domains outside the boundaries of my family’s immediate social group. This gave me the opportunity to develop the knack of networking very early on. That’s how I got introduced to Economics, a domain that is not commonly chosen in the cultural set-up that I come from, which then pushed me into the curious world of analytics.
When I started out in Economics, my original plan was to delve into pure economics, earn a PhD and follow the research track. During my final graduate internship at Thomson Reuters, my mentor said that Economics graduates make good data analysts because the coursework prepares us to have patience with numbers along with sharp research skills. That was the first push for me to rethink my career path. I realized that though the micro & macroeconomics theories excite me, it’s econometrics that gets my heart racing. Moreover, by the end of my masters I was also introduced to behavioural economics (and started worshipping Daniel Kahneman), which pushed my curiosity towards data pertaining to consumer decision-making.
Merging both these domains, the question that often came to me was – how much impact can one make if they knew how to use data the right way?
My chapter in Wise started for precisely those reasons. Being an Organization that’s both data-driven and focused on the daily customer problems, directly caters to my motivation in my journey with numbers. I have been in Wise for just 5 months now. I have previously enjoyed my work in a Singapore-based car-rental start-up that had similar inclinations towards solving customer problems – tightening my grip towards companies that share these values.
I currently work as the Product Analyst for the Issuance of our Debit Card Product. Within Wise, the card product is much newer than the Send & Multi-currency Account Products. One of my personal goals is to help increase the Card Product awareness among the existing Wise customers. This entails categorizing the customers based on their current and potential use-cases after adopting the Card Product. Jointly with my team, I am focusing H1 2022 in driving initiatives around the same by historical analysis of customer behaviour when they adopt the card product after using other Wise products. The idea is to understand the value the active adopters got from their card and see how other non-card Wise customers can be nudged to reap these benefits. I am looking forward to running experiments through this quarter to deepen my understanding of our existing customers’ needs and actively solutioning those.
Working with data all day long trains you to view the world in numbers even after you close your laptop. It was hence even harder to overlook the gender ratio in the field of Analytics. A simple screen when you enter a room of randomly assembled analysts in an Analytics Event lies testimonial to that fact. In general, when we look at fields that are heavy on numbers, we see the lack of female representation. Why does representation become important? The answer lies in the impact it has on a company as well as for the greater good.
On the company level it gives the opportunity to bring in different perspectives into the team and hence churn out the best solutions for a problem. A person’s knowledge is shaped by their life experiences and for better or for the worse your gender plays an important role in shaping the way you approach a problem. This becomes important as one person’s problem can be another person’s blindspot, irrespective of how technically strong they are, impacting the quality of solutions. On the broader level, representation becomes essential for people who are trying to break stereotypes. I had the privilege of networking well while I was growing up and even so I barely had any female mentors in this field. Needless to say, the stereotypes of women not being good at math or smart enough to do analytical roles are still very much around.
Women’s Day 2022 theme #breakthebias precisely means this for me. Representation helps break the crippling anxiety & imposter syndrome that comes with it – every female analyst can inspire more women to enter into a field that is still popularly male-dominated. We can’t choose what examples we were exposed to but we can choose what examples we set out there.
One of the most important things I learnt within the first few years of my career is to not hesitate to ask for help. Analytics is a fairly demanding field and often comes with a steep learning curve (irrespective of gender). But because of the constant pressure of needing to break the stereotypes around not being upto the task, women often find it difficult to ask for help. My one piece of advice for any woman planning to start their career in Analytics is to ensure that your curiosity to learn is greater than your pressure to prove yourself.
In my experience, it’s hard to ignore these external factors around gender especially as it shows up from time to time even in the most implicit of fashions. However, internalising this pushes us into a slippery path where our fear of failure stymies the growth we get by learning from our experiences as well as learning from others around us. After 5 months of working at Wise and onboarding into a new industry, it still surprises me as to how willing people are to help you here.
You just have to ask!
Success in Analytics doesn’t come in one form – It can be that you found a solution to a customer problem or that you learnt a better way to optimise your query or it can just simply be that you found a better way to communicate your findings to your team. The beauty of this field is, once you start having fun with numbers it only motivates you further. Good luck to all and looking forward to some day hearing your journey with numbers!
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