Female Senior Analytics Specialist – Susan Gatura

From her early days navigating the complexities of data to her current role as a Senior Analytics Specialist, Susan is full of grit, determination, and a fierce commitment to excellence. She has carved out her place in this male-dominated industry, breaking barriers, defying odds, and inspiring others along the way;

Hello Susan, thank you for volunteering to share your Analytics journey with the world. We are happy to have you on this episode of Words That Count
Hi Winnie, thank you for considering me.

Briefly introduce yourself to our audience
My name is Susan Gatura from Kenya. I am a Senior Analytics Specialist at the Multichoice Group and the founder of a Kenyan data community called Phoenix Ke Analytics.

Walk us through your journey into your current role as a Senior Analytics Specialist
As a child, I always had a curious mind and a passion for problem-solving. I was intrigued by numbers and patterns, which led me to excel in mathematics and science throughout my schooling years. Funny enough, people then recommended a career in medicine or finance. A career in technology never came up.

As a result, during my college years, I pursued a degree in Finance for both my bachelor’s and master’s, which led to a customer care role before graduation. At the time, I was not keen on doing what I had studied for. So, this came as an experience; one I will never forget! It gave me a renewed respect for customer care representatives. Working in a role where the customer is always perceived to be right presented its own set of difficulties. I learned valuable lessons about patience, empathy, and resilience.

After graduating I got an accountant job. My God! The monotony of doing the same thing over and over, every day is not for the faint of heart. It was very easy for me to realize that that was not what I wanted to do. I later got a job that was branded as a “finance job” but later realized that I needed skills beyond the finance skills I had. This role needed skills in SQL and PowerBI, none of which I had. I had to self-learn through YouTube and other online platforms while on the job. This marked my transition into tech. A process I am very grateful for because of my supportive colleagues.

Since then I have worked for a diverse set of industries ranging from the non-renewable energy sector, e-commerce, and media and entertainment. This experience broadened my understanding of data-driven insights and their transformative impact on business performance across different sectors.

Alongside my corporate journey, I founded Phoenix KE Analytics as a passion project and a platform for data enthusiasts, professionals, and learners alike. It’s not a traditional analytics company but rather a thriving data community where members collaborate, share knowledge, and stay updated with the latest trends and technologies in the field of data analytics. Diversity and inclusion are fundamental values at Phoenix KE Analytics. Having personally experienced the challenges of starting without adequate resources and mentorship, I recognize the importance of creating a supportive and inclusive environment within the tech community.

Through Phoenix KE Analytics, I’ve had the privilege of connecting with diverse individuals and organizations, fostering a culture of continuous learning and innovation within the data community. It’s been incredibly fulfilling to see members exchange ideas, tackle complex challenges, and contribute to the advancement of data analytics across various domains.

My journey underscores the importance of adaptability, continuous learning, and the willingness to explore new horizons. While my academic foundation was in finance, my career path led me to embrace the vast potential of data analytics across diverse industries, shaping me into the analytics expert I am today.

Transitioning into a new field, especially tech, is not an easy feat! What are some of the challenges you have faced?
This is true! Transitioning to a field I had no prior knowledge of posed one of the biggest challenges in my career journey. It was hard for me to navigate the new tasks by learning concepts I barely understood. Moving from a finance-focused background to the dynamic world of tech and analytics was a significant leap, and at the outset, I encountered a steep learning curve. The concepts, tools, and methodologies in this new domain were unfamiliar, requiring me to invest significant time and effort in self-teaching and upskilling.

Furthermore, throughout this transition, I faced challenges with communication skills. Effectively conveying ideas, articulating technical concepts, and collaborating with cross-functional teams were areas where I initially struggled. Clear communication is crucial in the tech and analytics space, whether it’s explaining complex analyses to stakeholders or collaborating with developers and data engineers to implement solutions.

Moreover, imposter syndrome was a constant companion during this journey. As I delved deeper into the tech and analytics field, I often felt like I didn’t belong. My skills weren’t up to par with my peers! Overcoming imposter syndrome required a shift in mindset. I had to acknowledge my achievements and capabilities and seek support and mentorship. I also had to embrace a growth-oriented mindset focused on continuous learning and improvement.

How have you been able to move forward amidst these challenges?
One of my strongest sources of inspiration is my commitment to finishing what I start. I believe in setting goals and seeing them through to completion, regardless of the challenges along the way. This mindset has driven me to persist through difficult times, overcome obstacles, and achieve milestones in both my professional and personal endeavors.

Furthermore, my intrinsic motivation plays a significant role in propelling me forward. A natural curiosity and thirst for knowledge drive me. I constantly seek to learn new things, solve challenging problems, and push the boundaries of what’s possible. This internal drive fuels my desire to excel, innovate, and make meaningful contributions in the field of data analytics and technology.

Additionally, the motivation to excel in a male-dominated field has been a powerful inspiration for me. I am passionate about breaking barriers, challenging stereotypes, and demonstrating that gender should never be a limitation in pursuing one’s aspirations. The drive to excel and succeed in such an environment pushes me to continually improve, innovate, and showcase the capabilities of women in tech and analytics.

Moreover, knowing that my journey can inspire and empower other women to pursue their dreams and realize their potential fuels my determination. I hope to encourage more women to enter and thrive in fields traditionally dominated by men. I lead by example, showing what’s possible through hard work, resilience, and dedication.

Let us talk about prestigious moments where your work in analytics has made you proud
Throughout my career journey, I have been fortunate to achieve several milestones, receive recognition for my contributions, and earn accolades in the field of analytics and technology. In recognition of my contributions to women’s empowerment in tech, I’ve received several esteemed nominations and awards. I won the Young Data Professional of the Year in 2023 for my impactful community work. Furthermore, I was a finalist for the Community Award by WomenTech Global, named one of the 30 Outstanding Women in Data by Dataleum, nominated for the Most Disruptive Award by AWS by the Women in Tech Global Movement, and won one of the 50 Inspiring Women in technology in Africa.

Who are you outside of work?
Being a mother of two wonderful girls is a central part of my identity outside of work. Parenthood is a rewarding journey filled with love, laughter, and growth. Balancing the responsibilities of motherhood with my professional endeavors is a fulfilling challenge. It has taught me patience, resilience, and the importance of cherishing precious moments with family.

Travel holds a special place in my heart, and I consider myself a travel enthusiast or, as some might say, a “travel junkie.” Exploring new destinations, experiencing different cultures, and creating memories with loved ones are experiences I treasure deeply. Whether it’s a relaxing beach getaway, or immersing myself in the rich history of a foreign city, each travel experience enriches my life and broadens my perspective.

Fitness is another passion that I prioritize in my life. Staying active through regular exercise, whether it’s going for runs, practicing yoga, or engaging in strength training, helps me maintain physical health, mental clarity, and overall well-being. I believe in the power of fitness to boost energy levels, reduce stress, and promote a positive mindset.

What’s your favorite quote?
If you want to be good at something, you must first be willing to be bad at it” ~ Richard Sutton.

What is your word of encouragement for a young African girl interested in a career in analytics?
Imposter syndrome makes you feel that everyone knows exactly what they’re doing apart from you. I still struggle with it to date, honestly! It’s not something you get rid of but a work-in-progress kind of thing. If you have been feeling the same just know you are not alone. Most people have felt the same at some point in their lives. Be your biggest cheerleader. It has to start with you. Constantly affirm yourself and accept when you might need more time to learn something. This will help you avoid the need to be perfect. Always remember these three things.

If you weren’t capable the opportunity would never come your way. And, and no one knows everything. Be kind to yourself and finally stop comparing your journey to others. Your journey is your journey, not a competition.

Thank you, once again, Susan, for sharing your journey in analytics with us. Now we know that one can switch into a full-tech role at any point in their career. We wish you the very best.

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