Caroline Izzard, Head of Data and Insights at Plexure
From dreaming of becoming an architect to figuring out how to make sense of billions of data points. Caroline Izzard, Head of Data and Insights at Plexure has found a space working in tech that allows her to apply same skills and thinking that initially appealed to her about architecture.
We caught up with Caroline to learn more about what her role entails, what she loves about working in the data space as well as some great advice about getting behind decisions once they are made. Thanks for sharing your story, Caroline.
Firstly, how would you explain to a five year old what it is you do?
We measure and record information about what people do, then use this information to understand why they do it and what things we might be able to do to help them or better meet their needs.
“Asking questions like, what does this really mean, what is sitting behind this, how will this help drive tangible value back into the client’s businesses.”
And for the adults, what does that translate to in regards to your day-to-day?
In a month we will capture billions of data points on what our clients’ customers are doing. My job is to help structure this information into something that can help add value to their business and their customers' lives.
Translating the meaningless mass of data into a range of tools and information sets that help guide their decisions, understand what is working, and drive superior customer experiences that increase both engagement and loyalty from their customers.
I don’t really have a typical day. My days vary greatly depending on the business and client areas of focus and what opportunities we are working on at any time. But across each and every piece of work, I would typically be playing the role of inquisitor and devil's advocate.
Asking questions like, what does this really mean, what is sitting behind this, how will this help drive tangible value back into the client’s businesses.
“The opportunities it offers for us to learn new things, find new connections, and create new ways of engaging with people is almost limitless.”
What are some of the common misconceptions about working in data and insights?
That it’s all technology, databases, and data lakes, and therefore must be a bit boring. But in my mind data is super dynamic and creative. The opportunities it offers for us to learn new things, find new connections, and create new ways of engaging with people is almost limitless.
What I enjoy most about my role, is the scope it delivers me to be inquisitive and creative, while still delivering tangible things to our customers and clients.
“ ..I actually wanted to be an architect”
Was working in tech something you dreamed about doing as a kid, if not what was?
No, I actually wanted to be an architect. But I have been surprised by how working in data allows me to apply many of the same skills and thinking that initially appealed to me about being an architect.
Tell us a little bit more about your career journey and ultimately about how you ended up working at Plexure?
I have always worked with data or information in one way shape or form, but in a variety of roles touching on it from almost all angles.
I worked in roles that produced data, that consulted on its uses to third-party clients, I’ve worked in commercial data roles, insights roles, and now in big data and AI roles.
There are so many different ways you can approach using information to guide businesses in their decisioning and marketing activities, and with each role I’ve rounded out my knowledge and expertise.
At Plexure, I feel like I’m getting the opportunity to bring all these pieces together. Pulling on experience and tools I’ve learned in the past, to meet the broad range of challenges and needs our clients are facing in today’s rapidly changing digital landscape.
“Don’t go around only half supporting it, or undermining the work in the background.”
What is the best piece of career advice you have ever received?
It relates to always making sure that you are fully on the bus and fully moving in the same direction as the business.
Simply put, when we are in the ideation phase, all ideas are welcome and should be debated. But once a decision has been reached, and a course set, regardless of whether it was my preferred choice, I needed to be onboard and back it 100%.
Don’t go around only half supporting it, or undermining the work in the background. This ability and willingness to debate, but move forward quickly and support delivery regardless, has treated me well while working in numerous fast moving roles and businesses in my career.
What are the core skills required to be good in your role?
Be curious. Have a good ability to make connections and join the dots. Excellent translation skills. Being able to connect the things we see in data with what they mean in the real work and how they can positively impact a client’s business.
Lastly, as Plexure continues to grow and evolve, what are the key traits and characteristics of people that will be well placed to work there?
Smart, interested people. People who like to work with others, and share ideas and accountability. There is little room for ‘owning territory’ at Plexure. Your good ideas are welcomed, and nurtured, regardless of your job title or role, and you need to be happy to return that in kind to others.