Alumni Spotlight: Louise Le

Learn more about Louise's experience, from the time she applied to The Data School, to her career as a the Head of Data Enablement at Aldermore Bank. Louise was part of Cohort 11 of The Data School London, which took place from October 2018 to February 2021.

Interviewed by Mel Niere | Edited by Lyon Abido, Lisa Hitch and Louise Le

Before The Data School

Q: What brought you to The Data School? What factors influenced your decision to apply and ultimately join The Data School?

I graduated from university and I studied medical engineering. I realized I didn't want to do engineering anymore, so I was looking for something that was related to why I enjoyed engineering, which was the data and analytical aspects of it. I was looking for endless types of jobs and was sick and tired of sending CVs (resumes), writing cover letters, and getting no response. 

I think I must be the only person at the time who discovered it through LinkedIn, because I know it's not a method that is frequently used. I thought it was interesting, because I didn't need a CV. Instead, you create a Tableau dashboard and that's your application. I thought “that's interesting, even if I don't get it, I've learned a new skill.” It seemed worth it to me, so I applied through LinkedIn. 

I thought the task made it really interesting, because I could just learn a skill in the application process. During the application process, I got even more interested in The Data School because everyone was so nice. They support you, give you advice on your visualization, give you genuine feedback, and dedicate time to it. I thought that was really cool. They seemed interested and invested in me getting better at Tableau, whether or not I ended up getting hired. That gave me a really good impression of the company.

The application process was easy for me. The interviews weren't stressful at all. It was nice getting to know people throughout the process. By the end, I got an offer, and I was really, really happy. Andy Kriebel (Former Global Head Coach) called me on the day of the interview and told me that I got the job. I had put so much effort into the application throughout, so it felt rewarding to get the job. That was evidence that this is the correct career path for me.

During The Data School

Q: What was your training experience like?

There are not many places that will pay you while you're being trained. We got four whole months of dedicated training, while also getting paid during that time. It was really a privilege to be able to do that and then develop your skills that way. We've been taught by world-class trainers like Andy Kriebel and Carl Allchin (Editor’s Note: Both are Tableau Visionaries) at the time. I did my training pre-Covid so we were in the office five days a week. There was a mix of classroom-based training but also group projects. Most weeks, we had a group project where a real-life client would come in and give us their problem statement on Monday. We would work on it throughout the week, and then, on Friday, we would present our solution to them. It was a way of applying what we learned in the week. The group client projects also allowed us to practice presentation skills and technical capability, so that was valuable. It was a sort of safe dry run of an actual placement. 

Q: How did your placements at The Data School enhance your skills and knowledge? 

After the four months of training, you go and start your placements. I had three placements: one at Solar Turbines in California, one at PWC, and then one at Aldermore Bank. The placements were all quite different, involving dashboard building and a little bit of training. It was cool to get to know different businesses. I think that's a real skill when you are a consultant; you have to go in and pick up things fast and start showing results quite quickly, because your placements are only six months or sometimes less. That was a really good experience for me to be able to develop my business acumen. 

Q: What support did you receive from The Data School?

The Information Lab (TIL) is there if you need them. The more you ask,  the more you contribute to TIL, the more you seek help, the more support you get. It's an environment where I found that you had to be a self starter. You had to have your own internal motivation where things weren’t handed to you; you go out and you get them.

It's always good as well that when you're on placement you have lots of other Data School Consultants with you a lot of the time. You're not alone and you end up learning with each other. You also have your cohort, which in itself has a lot of support because then you're at the same stage of your data career. You can always rely on each other and I found that support of peers helpful. I think that's a big advantage of The Data School. 

After The Data School

Q: How did The Data School and The Information Lab serve as a launchpad for your data analytics career?

It has been three years since The Data School. I've been at the same company, Aldermore. Aldermore was my third and fourth placement. I joined permanently after my fourth placement, so I literally wouldn't have gotten the job without going through The Data School. While I was in placement, I was able to prove myself to my now employer. I was able to become invaluable to them and for them to hire me afterward. I don't think I would have developed the expertise I needed without The Data School. 

A lot of consultants find that when they leave the four months of training they think to themselves “I'm not experienced enough, I don't know enough to go and consult and tell people what to do.” They see all these big companies and worry if they can be the expert. But then, when you actually join these companies, you realize the level of Tableau or Alteryx expertise in these companies is generally low. People often learn these tools side of desk. They don't have dedicated training, like we've had, so our skills are really valuable and they do elevate you a lot. For me, even though it was quite early in my career –I’ve only been in data for two years since I graduated– I was able to demand more of my job in terms of salary and responsibilities. This is all because I had accelerated my learnings and experiences through TIL.

When I left TIL, I joined Aldermore as a Performance Insights Manager. I was building dashboards for the business finance function and working with the senior leadership within that function to get to know data better and to use it to make decisions. A year later, I was promoted to heading up an analytics team. I did that for a year. That was building dashboards for the C-suite. It was very challenging, but again, I feel like the experience I had as a Data School Consultant, going to different companies where I knew nothing and was the BI expert, gave me the confidence and the ability to pick things up really quickly.

That was my first leadership role, and then, September 2023, I moved into the Chief Data Office and started my current role heading up a data enablement team, developing  data culture and getting people to use Tableau. It's a bit more where I want my career to go. I definitely wouldn't have gotten there (at least not as quickly) without The Data School.

Advice About The Data School

Q: What advice would you give to individuals already in The Data School?

I think I touched on it a bit before, where it is what you make of it. The more you try, the more you'll get. It's only for a limited time. It's four months in training and then two years of placements, right? It's not a lot of time and it will fly past you, if you let it, because you're changing placements so quickly as well. You do need to engage to stay a part of the community. Talk to the alumni community; it’s an invaluable resource to have tens of cohorts of alumni before you, who have been there and done that. The alumni have built networks and built themselves to be successful and you can utilize that. 

As an example, when I was a Data School Consultant, I asked if I could go to Tableau Conference and they said yeah. I was able to go to one in Vegas and if I didn't ask that wouldn't have happened. So be brave and just ask! The worst that can happen is people saying no. Just do it.

Mel Niere
Powered by The Information Lab
1st Floor, 25 Watling Street, London, EC4M 9BR
to our Newsletter
Get the lastest news about The Data School and application tips
Subscribe now
© 2024 The Information Lab