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University of New South Wales
Analytics graduate at IAG
Rosa Wang studied a Bachelor of Actuarial Studies / Science (Statistics) and is an analytics graduate at IAG.
What's your job about?
If I said, ‘My employer is anticipating the changes in our ever-evolving future and working to find ways to protect the community’, would you have guessed that I work in an insurance company? In the last six months I have been doing just that, with the work and culture you’d expect from a young tech start-up – not a typical insurance company – despite being involved with communities for over 100 years.
I’m part of the Analytics team; I’ve been using data to try to understand the behaviour of people. One of the projects I’ve been a part of is exploring the data picked up by an app IAG was developing that discouraged mobile phone use while driving in cars. The hypothesis I tested was ‘Does this app make users drive safer?’
A work day for me looks like a bunch of coding (python) sandwiched between some meetings. I’ll probably go to a workshop or dial in to a talk by the Data and Analytics Guild, the Innovation team, or our chief customer officer. I’ll probably spend the afternoon drinking tea and working from the kitchen with a great view of Darling Park. We have a hot-desking environment that I love. I’ll think about questions and whether they have answers: ‘Could I use PCA to build a user-segmentation model?’, ‘How does the retention for our app compare to other apps on the market?’ Today I wore a grey sweater with white Nike sneakers. Doesn’t sound like a boring desk job, does it?
What's your background?
People talk about life being defined by choices or doors closing and opening etc. Here are two choices that shaped mine:
- I moved from Canberra to Sydney. The diversity of people that I have met and the opportunities for community involvement – all while studying in a top university – has been the most amazing experience.
- I tore my anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) playing competitive Ultimate frisbee. Tryouts for the Australian under-24s team was in five months and making the team had been my goal for the previous three years. After surgery, I had to decide if I wanted to compete again.
Devoting a lot of time, energy and passion into something and then being faced with the prospect of never doing it again is an incredibly emotionally-draining experience. I realised how precious time is. Post surgery, I spent a lot of time thinking ‘What do I really, really want?’, ‘How do I want to feel in five years?’ and ‘How do I focus my energy to get there?’ Nothing changed superficially as in the end I decided to keep playing Ultimate, but it was a very conscious and deliberate decision. I didn’t ever want to be in a situation where I regretted not trying hard enough again – and of course, that mentality led to this placement.
Could someone with a different background do your job?
I’m an analyst in the Analytics team at IAG. My job involves interacting with raw data, writing code to analyse the data and visualising and translating back to the business in a universal language.
To a certain degree (pun intended) – yes – someone with a different background could do this. Understanding basic statistical concepts and basic coding skills is absolutely necessary. Students from STEM courses and most economics/finances courses should find the technical aspect of the job manageable. Also, if you haven’t done any coding, there are so many free online resources that there isn’t really any excuse.
In terms of soft skills, communication is so important; everyone says it, because it’s true! Be transparent with your preferred ways of working. Communicate when you need support, can’t meet a deadline or when someone has misunderstood you and learn to tailor your communication to your audience. Being able to learn quickly and ‘hit the ground running’ is also incredibly important, but if you can’t, communicating this to your team is more important.
What's the coolest thing about your job?
I did some text analysis in one of my projects and found some cases involving a specific social issue. We shared this with a group of people from different parts of the business and to our surprise, people in the room stood up and started clapping! I didn’t realise this before, but they had been looking for data around this data for a long time, with no results. The team was just genuinely happy that we were able to start doing something to support people going through a really rough time. To be a part of work that will make a difference in someone’s life – that is a pretty cool feeling.
What are the limitations of your job?
The Analytics team have adopted agile ways of working; we all have laptops that we use to hot desk and we work from home all the time. However, different parts of the business have different ways of working. My next rotation is in the Actuarial team, who have a more traditional way of working. I anticipate moving into this environment will take some getting used to.
What are three pieces of advice you would give to a university student?
- ‘Fortune favours the prepared mind’. The opportunities are always there, it’s about whether or not you’re ready to put in the work and engage with them.
- Sit down and be humble. Everyone knows more than you about something. So, have humility and be respectful in every interaction you have. There are no exceptions to this.
- Have fun and more importantly, have fun failing! Stop expecting things to go your way; enjoy the challenge and enjoy failing.
Any final words?
You have so much time when you’re at university. Join a club, learn to dance, play a sport, meet people; work hard, play harder. The skills and relationships you build really will carry you forward.