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Women in data: Bindu Bakrania's career journey as Head of Data Analytics, Private Markets

Posting date: 10 Jul 2024
Photo of a headshot of Bindu, a women in a black and white outfit smiling in a garden

At Legal & General, we like to share our employee’s stories and celebrate their success. Bindu Bakrania has been with us since April 2023 and has achieved immense growth in her career in data analytics. We asked her to share insights on her career journey, from what got her interested in data to key memorable moments.

What sparked your interest in data and did you do any data analytics courses?

I have always been very inquisitive and liked to understand how things worked from a very young age, taking a keen interest in computers and coding. I still remember the first code I ever wrote (on my Acorn Electron for those who remember!) and it was to get my name to fly across the screen in multiple colours!

At school, I was always very good at maths, and I did both Maths and Computer Science at A-Levels. When considering my university choices I ended up choosing a degree in Computing and Management Science, giving me the chance to continue exploring both those subjects further.

How did you get into a data and analytics career?

My degree allowed me a choice of two career paths and events outside of my control actually led me to pivot into analytics after a year of working in a non-analytics role. I started my analytics career in financial services as a Risk Analyst, coding in SAS (including mainframe SAS!). With Risk being a niche subject area, I went on to broaden my experience across other areas within the same organisation over a 10 year period.

At one point this also included stepping into a product management role for a few years – resulting in me being the stakeholder for the analytics teams and giving me a different perspective on everything I had experienced in my analytics roles till that point – I was now the person who needed the data and insight to make decisions quickly.

This experience was great, but I missed the day-to-day challenges of working with data bought. So I moved organisations and over another period of ~10 years, I undertook a number of roles within the data & analytics sphere. This enabled me to build on my breadth of data, business and industry knowledge whilst continually challenging myself to learn and develop. 

What are some of the challenges you faced as a woman in data?

I felt like I had to work harder and prove myself more than my male peers, especially when I kept missing out on promotions to male colleagues with little justified reasoning. At times I felt isolated and intimidated by the male-dominated environment, finding it hard to speak up and get space to make my point in meetings or being talked over by stronger more confident peers.

Imposter syndrome would kick in now and again and I wondered if I belonged around the table, making me question my own ability at times. However, through having some great mentors and gaining a few sponsors along the way who championed my potential over the years, my confidence grew and I realised I did in fact deserve a seat around that table.

How do you stay updated with the latest trends in data analytics?

A variety of means such as listening to podcasts, reading whitepapers, attending relevant conferences (which also help me to build my network), but also using LinkedIn which also provides a great source of information from companies and individuals within the industry.

What strategies do you use to lead diverse teams in data analytics?

Having led large, diverse, multi-located teams both on and off-shore over my career I have found there are several ways which help get the best out of the individuals, build a great team culture and also have the right impact across the business. Building trust and rapport with the individuals, and across the team, is crucial. As a leader, I also see my role in aiding the teams' development, part of which is ensuring they are not afraid to make mistakes and you will help them learn and develop from these situations should they arise.

Communicating frequently and with clarity and purpose can have a huge impact on engagement and motivation too alongside helping them understand the bigger picture and alignment of work they are doing to the business goals.

What advice would you give to women aspiring to enter or advance in the field of data analytics?

Own your career development, be open to feedback and drive your career conversations with your line manager. Utilise the free resources such as those provided by Women in Data, various courses to help you with coding, reading blogs, listening to podcasts, and getting involved in hackathons. Start to build your network and also consider finding a mentor. Most of all be brave, be confident and don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone.

Are there any programs you have implemented to support diversity and inclusion within your team?

At Legal & General I am a key lead for the partnership Legal & General has with the external Women In Data network to create a supportive and thriving data community internally, helping retain and nurture talent and also applying an external focus to attract talent through our data and analytics graduate programmes and hopefully inspire our next generation of data leaders.

What skills will be crucial in the future for data professionals?

The data analytics field is influenced by many factors, such as technological advancements, business needs, social changes, and environmental factors. The rise of AI has significantly changed the data landscape and this will continue as technology and data and analytics tools continue to advance. The roles will start to change too with more of a focus on areas such as skilled prompt engineers for example. 

This will not only require individuals to ensure they keep their technical knowledge on data analytics tools and skills up to date, but it will also require a change and growth mindset.

What outlook or mindset do you stand behind?

Be bold, be curious, be ready to learn and adapt, and if you fall, pick yourself back up and remind yourself only you are stopping yourself from achieving what you desire. I will always ask myself “If not you, then who?”.

Are you ready to advance your career in data analytics?

At Legal & General, we support the learning and development of your skills to help you grow in your career. We stand by equal opportunities and cultivate an environment that is diverse and inclusive. Whether you are just starting your career or looking to climb the ladder, there are so many prospects with us.

If this sounds like a workplace that you could thrive in, we invite you to explore our recent data and tech jobs.

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