Meet the Mentor – Kerry Parker

Written by: on September 26, 2019
Tags: Careers, Day in the life of, Interviews, Meet the Mentors, Role Model, Women in Tech

Meet Kerry, a Data Scientist with a PhD in Particle Physics and a mentor from our Tech for Good programme at Holly Lodge Girls’ College. Kerry enjoys coding, creating applications, analysing data to gather insight and then presenting it beautifully. She loves to learn and challenge herself, recently completing a triathlon. She also enjoys cooking and trying new food. In her spare time, she is a Dockside Runner and practises yoga to relax and unwind.

Kerry Headshot

How did you get to where you are today in your career?

I didn’t take a direct route to get to my current career path. Throughout school and university I followed a very academic route with science based subjects, choosing the things I enjoyed most at each stage of my career.
I progressed through education to get my PhD in Particle Physics, working on the ATLAS experiment at CERN. This involved analysing large datasets, reporting results in regular internal meetings as well as at international conferences and developing tools and software for data analysis.

On completing my PhD I was torn between staying in academia and moving into industry, eventually deciding to continue in academia where I worked at DESY in Hamburg as a postdoctoral researcher. Within a year I realised that I wasn’t getting the enjoyment I wanted out of my work and academia, I also wanted to be closer to loved ones with more job security so decided to move back to the UK and to find a job where I could apply my skills. It was a priority for me to feel like a valued member of the team in a relaxed environment but also to be challenged, learn and progress within my role. This led me to Liverpool and I have been working at IQBlade as a Data Scientist since the end of 2017.

What skills do you think you need to do your line of work?

The essential skills for data jobs are problem solving, self-motivation and communication.
It also helps to be an analytical thinker, have programming experience in R or python, and to be familiar with databases and statistics.

What does an average day look like for you?

Each day varies but it often consists of a mix of project work for clients, software development work for new services or features for the online platform, gathering data and finding any missing data.

When I first arrive at work, I usually check my emails and make a list of a few things to prioritise for the day. Throughout the day we use Slack to communicate within the team and to stay up to date with any issues or questions. We have a flexible working style and relaxed environment where I am able to work from home and typically do this one day each week or when I know that I need to really focus on something without any distractions. We also go for a team lunch on Fridays!

Kerry and the InnovateHers from Holly Lodge on their graduation.
Kerry and the InnovateHers from Holly Lodge on their graduation.

Any advice for a young person who might want to do this as a career?

Data science is a broad field and covers several disciplines including maths, statistics and computer science. Becoming familiar with concepts in science, maths and computing will provide a good starting point.

There are many useful resources online where you can read articles and follow tutorials to stay informed about emerging technologies and learn different techniques by using open source data and building projects based on your own interests! I’d also recommend going along to local events, tech meetups or joining online communities to find other people with shared interests and in data roles and find out what they are working on!

Why did you want to become an InnovateHer mentor?

I wanted to become a mentor to encourage girls to pursue STEM subjects and show them the range of career possibilities that are available to them. It is also important for the girls to interact with people in these types of roles while having access to the skills, confidence and opportunities that can allow them to be successful.

For my own development, I wanted to share my journey and to gain experience mentoring and providing support so that I can help again as a lead mentor in the future. I’ve loved being part of the programme, I’ve learnt so much and met some incredible and inspiring people!

Follow Kerry on Twitter and check out her local tech meet-up TechNomads.

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