#DataYou: Aleks Yaneva’s Story

Aleks Yaneva is a Campaign Data Analyst with Standard Life Aberdeen. She did a degree in tourism management (which she describes as “wildly unrelated” to her current job!), but she is now crystal clear that data is at the heart of her future plans. Part of the DDI Skills Gateway #Datayou series this is her data story, in her own words.


“I previously worked in mortgages, and then customer operations, processing asset transfers for Standard Life Aberdeen. It was non-technical, non-data related and pretty repetitive.

I’ve always had an interest in the technical side of things, and was keeping my eyes open for an ‘in’. I did a free online course in SQL [a programming language] and I thought I was OK at it, and I enjoyed it, so I started looking out for data roles – and one came up.

My main responsibilities as a Campaign Data Analyst are to create automated marketing campaigns by extracting and manipulating data using a number of different tools and databases. I also write a lot of queries using SQL.

The data-related side of the role is about understanding the concept of databases and how data is structured in them, and how to query and manipulate data efficiently. There is a level of programming but lots of marketing tools have simple drag-and-drop and text options.

Softer skills are also really important, like the ability to communicate about data with stakeholders in a clear way.

I didn’t have the majority of skills I needed for the job when I joined, but I acquired them quickly through on-job training alongside senior colleagues – both the technical skills and those softer skills too.  It was a learning curve because everything was new and there was a lot to take in – but that shouldn’t put anyone off. I’d say you can learn the essence of the job in a few months.

The biggest challenge to taking on a new data role was overcoming the barriers in your own head – worrying that you don’t come from a data background, or that you aren’t amazing at maths. That can also make you worry that you will be perceived differently and struggle to keep up.

But you don’t need to be great at maths or have a statistics degree to be a data worker. Obviously, it’s beneficial to have some skill in those areas, but the most important thing is definitely an interest in learning, and always being curious. Language like ‘data science’ can put people off, but you should be open-minded.

Data is incredibly important for so many different job roles. There are a lot of free online courses you can do to upskill if you are interested. Don’t be afraid or think you can’t do it – just go for it!

It’s a very exciting field to be in, and it’s certainly not about staring at the same spreadsheet all day. There are many ways of integrating and automating spreadsheets; data is constantly evolving and it does require that mixture of technical and softer skills. It needs a real mixture of people too.

Across all fields of employment, a degree of data literacy is becoming the norm. Data can help answer many questions and generate real insights about the performance of a business and about your customers and their behaviour. Everyone in every business needs to understand the basics around data and the insights you can get from that data.

On a personal level, I’m always keen to learn more about anything to do with how you look at data and find answers – and I enjoy using different tools and thinking how to do things more efficiently. I have thoroughly enjoyed learning all the technical skills and I’m now doing a Computer Science degree.

My long-term ambition is to transition into more of a software engineering role and I think what I have learned about data will be very valuable. I definitely won’t be leaving data behind!”

Data who_ Aleks Yaneva

Everyone in every business needs to understand the basics around data and the insights you can get from that data.

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