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How I Am Adapting To A Project Data Analytics Future As A Project Professional


Amena Zepherin

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In our most recent Meetup, we had a talk from Highways England on how they are transforming their approach to project delivery. With deployment of advanced data analytics across various stages of their projects including the A14 and Lower Thames Crossing, data analytics is becoming a standard in how they deliver projects. Another step into their data journey, includes upskilling their existing project workforce to align with this new approach, of which they have utilised the Project Data Academy to achieve this. 

Hi, and welcome to my blog. By way of introduction. I am Vicki Perkins and I work for Highways England, in the Complex Infrastructure Programme as a Digital Project Manager. My main role is working on the Data Analytics and reporting project we are currently running. This takes the lessons we learnt from A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon of using an analytics reporting platform to gain insights and decision making in a timely manner and applying these to the other 3 projects (Lower Thames Crossing, A303 Stonehenge, A428 Blackcat to Caxton Gibbet).  

How I Am Adapting To A Project Data Analytics Future As A Project Professional 

Having followed The Project Data Analytics Community for a few months now, its clear that the future of project delivery will be vastly driven by advanced data analytics. Not only because data is inherently better at informing our decisions, but there seems to be a real buzz around concepts such as automation, low code no code, artificial intelligence and machine learning.  

Being a project professional with some data knowledge. I know advanced data analytics is a broad concept that I will never be able to understand in its entirety. But to help optimise my role, I wanted to be able to find a niche within data analytics and understand it to a level where I can implement long-term solutions to our projects. This in turn will enable me to help drive the data capability within my organisation and prepare us for a data-driven future. 

As opposed to self-taught learning, I joined the Project Data Academy run by Projecting Success, where I am working towards a Data Analyst Lv4 Apprenticeship. I am a recent start so my thoughts on the matter reflect what its like to cast a net into a wide pool of data, with hopes that it will train a foundation for advanced project data analytics, but also guide my interests into this vast phenomena. 

My first experience at the Project Data Academy, was at the intensive week. Before entering into this session. I had mixed feeling as to what to expect. I had been given an overview of the course but had little other information.  

I remember thinking I wonder how much of this is going to be similar to my day job? From this first week I could see there was some overlaps and also some parts that were going to be completely new to me. This made me feel more at ease as we went through the week. I also could see it was going to be a steep learning curve on some of the technical parts even for someone like me; with previous data experience. Conceptually I understood what was being mentioned but I wasn't sure of technically it worked.  

I was also very aware there were others on the course that would have very different experiences to me. The personal intro's everyone did helped to breakdown some of the barriers, its good to meet others from the industry and find out what their problems are and collectively how can we do things together.  

As the week progressed, it became clear that everyone was on a very different starting level. This would either encourage people along collectively or cause the quieter members to stay quiet for fear of saying something wrong or not understanding.  

After the intensive week, I went back to a mix of feelings from content that I knew what was expected of me and what was involved. but also worry and nerves as to 'could I actually complete this course'? A. from doing this alongside my normal busy day job, but B. do I have the capability to do the heavy technical coding etc bit. I needed to take some time out and reflect on this feeling. After a few days of careful thinking I had come round to the feeling of ‘yes’ I could do it and what an experience this could be.  

I learnt from the above experience to stop doubting myself and my abilities. Yes at times I am sure things are going to be tough, but I will find a way through it. I must not forget there are people to help and support me along this journey both from Highways England perspective to the team at Projecting Success.  

Through what I have learnt I can definitely apply this to my normal day job. This is very similar to the feelings I had following the first episode of learning. I need to believe in myself more and stop trying to doubt myself or my capabilities in data analytics. 

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