Women in Data & Technology - Louise Ngai
Louise Ngai - Senior Manager Customer Analytics at BT Financial shares her insights:
What do you attribute your success to?
I’m fortunate to be able to work in an area that I truly enjoy and love. My job provides a platform for me to combine my love for Mathematics and programming with the art of problem solving and practical execution. And mostly, it is the latter and my ability to clearly articulate to my stakeholders that yields the most success. But I think it is my passion for what I do that drives my desire to do better and push my curiosity to seek for answers.
My mum gave me a great piece of career advice when I was young. It was to pick something that I’m passionate about. She explains that when I have found a job that I love, I will find the energy to persevere with any challenges that I face. The job will become more like a hobby. My mum is a watchmaker. And having dealt with watches every day for the past 40 years of her life. She still stares at the watches like a kid staring into a candy store!
Career defining moments?
I took a leap of faith from my colleague and applied for a Customer Analytics Manager role. A role and an industry in which I didn't have much knowledge about. The first time I’ve heard of the term ‘customer analytics’ was from a colleague I was working within the Risk team. He said, ‘ … I think you should get into Customer Analytics. I think you have the personality for the role…”. I wasn’t sure what that meant. What is customer analytics? Is there a certain type of personality or quality that you must have for a role?
I was struggling with the slow-paced culture within the Group Risk team at the time. It was vastly different from the fast-paced energy trading floor where I was working as a quant analyst. My Actuarial and Funds Management Degree didn’t seem directly relevant either. Making a choice in career change is never easy. But I’m glad I took the risk and started my career journey in the world of Customer Analytics and Data Science.
Advice to other females?
I’ve found establishing personal relationships within and outside your organisation to be very valuable. A lot of the opportunities I’ve had in my career were through the connections I’ve built through networking. Instead of attending the networking events, I prefer to take part in organising these events, such as internal SAS User groups or Analytics knowledge sharing lunch sections etc. I find it gives more opportunities to communicate and network with the guest speakers, and the community of people in which you have established. These relationships are more meaningful than simply attending the sessions.
What attracted you to your current organisation?
I’ve been fortunate to have a few good managers and mentors in the 8 years with Westpac Group. This has also coincided with a high degree of flexibility to pursue the projects/roles that interested me. I’ve also had the opportunity to take on a 7 months career break to travel around the world. And when I returned, I was in my previous role and given the opportunity to look for other new roles within the group. The flexibility and support I’ve received was fantastic.
If you started your career again now, what would you do differently?
I had an amazing opportunity to develop and manage the consumer deposit pricing project. The pilot was a massive success and we had gained a lot of learnings from it. The price elasticity model was a statistically challenging piece of work. Similar work done in a commercial sense relating the customer pricing behaviours was also limited at the time. If I had a chance to revisit a period of my career, I would like to write a few research papers on price elasticity and maybe start my PhD around the topic.
What is the one big decision in your career that you would change if you could do it again?
One of my biggest decisions was to change from the Utilities industry into Banking. The utility market is a very niche, but fascinating industry. If I could do it again, I might want to stay in the industry for a few more years.