We sat down with IT professional Adelola Adebo (age 27) – a Data Analyst at ‘Therapie Clinic‘ in Ireland, who began her journey into IT in Nigeria where she grew up.

“My parents really liked the concept of computers, even though they weren’t into IT themselves. They started a cyber cafe business, and after school I used to go around to help them out, which was my first experience with computers. I later got into college where I was supposed to study medicine, because that was the ‘cool’ choice, but after a while I didn’t like it and I just knew it wasn’t for me. So, I switched to IT, because I realised that this is a tool that humans can really use to create solutions that improve our lives and help businesses with new solutions. After college, I started to work in a start-up for a couple of years but then I was granted a government scholarship that I used to study a course in artificial intelligence.

To further improve myself in this field, I decided to pursue a master’s degree in data analytics at the National College of Ireland. I ended up writing a thesis on using artificial intelligence and machine learning to build a skin care recommendation system. The idea is to be able to recommend skin care products to people based on their own unique skin type. This led me to look for jobs in that area.”

Q: Can you describe your company, ‘Therapie Clinic’, and some of the daily tasks you perform as a Data Analyst there?

“Therapie Clinic offers medical grade beauty services and products as well as fertility services.

I’ve always loved the cosmetic industry, even as a child. I started making my own organic beauty products such as soaps and coconut oil, and even started a small beauty business, which I ran all by myself from home. While doing this and working for the tech start-up. I discovered I had a passion for both beauty and tech, and so I wanted to be able to merge both.

My job is about understanding the customer’s journey across our services. For example, we try to understand things like the frequency of customer visits and why they choose us. This enables us to adapt our services to better suit customer needs.

My role at Therapie Clinic includes collecting data and deriving valuable insights from that data. I analyse the data using different tools and statistical methods to convert the information into graphs and charts that are easy and free from technical jargon so it’s accessible to the management team.

I had huge benefits from participating in the ‘Women4 IT’-initiative led by the Irish Computer Society (ICS). We had an instructor, who I would consider as a mentor, because she guided me, and I could always ask her questions about my career in IT

Q: Is reskilling/upskilling a fixed part of your job to keep up with new developments?

“Yeah, absolutely. I have always known that it is important to upskill yourself and I’m always studying, doing one course or the other. It’s like with your phone – if you don’t do regular updates on it, over the next five years, it can be outdated. Tech is so fast-paced and there are so many technologies, so many tools coming out, so if you really want to stay relevant you must keep ‘studying’.

I’m currently doing a course in data engineering, and I’ve realised that some technologies that we use today are becoming quickly outdated. However, some of these technologies are still being taught to learn the foundations of data engineering. So that’s how tech is – they’re always trying to solve something and make a tool better and make it faster or make the memory more efficient.

Q: What made you select the data engineering course?

“I would like to develop my technical skills more. While a Data Analyst mainly works on analysing the data, an engineer extracts that data and moves it around e.g., into a storage facility that the analysts can then work with. I want to understand the entire process and I want to be able to present the data for all types of purposes and understanding the end-to-end process.

Q: Apart from the technical aspects you mention, there’s also the issues related to ethics in data management, for example about how data is treated, and who owns the data. Is this an aspect that you’re involved with as well?

Well, it was something that we learned about at university, where they taught us about data governance, understanding the GDPR, and in my company it is something that comes up a lot. It’s important for us to have access to the data we need but we also want to follow the guidelines of the GDPR. We, of course, understand the user’s perspective, who wants privacy. But from the business perspective, you can see why we need people’s data to provide better services. This must be balanced, somehow.

I believe that it will be important to educate users, so they understand how their data is being used. Many companies now ask users either to accept or reject their use of cookies to track website activity. But I don’t think it’s a real choice if the user doesn’t understand any of the information given to them. It’ll be very useful for a user to know what exactly a certain app does with data, so when they either accept, or reject, cookies, it’s an informed choice.

Q: Any advice you would give someone considering a career as a Data Analyst? Do you have specific tips for women who want to work with IT?

“Okay, let me start with the second question. I think for women, I would just say ‘be confident’, and that there’s really nothing you can’t do. In general, I think mentorship is important, because tech can be very overwhelming – where do I start? Should I learn java or python? You can seek out people that would guide you and you can ask them questions about certain paths you might take.

Q: This would include university career guides, for example?

Yes, exactly, but I personally don’t have only one person that I seek advice from. I look people up who are ahead of me in their careers. And I also had huge benefits from participating in the ‘Women4 IT’-initiative led by the Irish Computer Society (ICS). There, we had an instructor, who I would consider as a mentor, because she guided me, and I could always ask her questions about my career in IT. Everybody’s path is different, of course, but I think we all can benefit a lot from having a guide.

Q: Was it difficult for you to find a job opportunity that matched beauty with IT?

I wouldn’t say it was easy. I mean, to be fair, nothing good in life comes easy, but it was difficult because there aren’t many large-scale beauty businesses that are investing in analytics. I think the cosmetics industry is just catching up with the digital revolution, for example, when you go on LinkedIn you’ll see tech jobs like software engineering, data analytics jobs etc. but these are still mostly related to the core technical companies or fintech companies.

But once you research a bit more, you start seeing companies such as mine that are investing in artificial intelligence and in high tech to develop their businesses.

If you would like to know more about the role of a Data Analyst, or other profiles within the field of IT, please get in touch with us at info@itprofessionalism.orgJoin ITPE and stay informed about our interview series as well as other upcoming events.

Find out more about the Women4IT-project and the event hosted by ICS on 07/02/2022 here.