Women Lead Data Podcast Episode 5: Advice for Data Professionals from Megan Lieu of Deepnote

May 2, 2024

About the episode

In our fifth episode, Lindsay is joined by Megan Lieu (Data Advocate at Deepnote) to learn more about her career in data, and how she got into being a LinkedIn content creator/influencer. This is a great episode for any data people interested in creating content of their own (e.g. blog articles, social posts, or podcasts), or growing their LinkedIn network, but aren’t sure how to get started. Megan shares some of her insights about how she got into the data industry, becoming a data scientist, pivoting into being a data advocate, and how she has grown her LinkedIn follower base–which is 95K and growing at the time of writing this!

Deepnote is a notebook that brings teams together to explore, analyze and present data from start to finish.

From Finance to Data Science

Megan's career began in finance, a path she had prepared for through her education and internships. However, a few years into her career, Megan felt a pull towards something different. Her curiosity led her to the data industry, a field she explored through LinkedIn. This platform not only helped her pivot her career towards data analytics but also became the stage where she would later share her insights and connect with the data community.

The Role of a Data Advocate

Transitioning from a data scientist to a data advocate, Megan found herself in a unique position that blends technical skills with communication and creativity. Her role involves not just heads-down data work but also engaging with the community, creating content, and educating others about data science and analytics tools. This shift required Megan to step out of her comfort zone, challenging her to maintain her technical edge while also honing her skills in content creation and public speaking.

Leadership Beyond Traditional Roles

Megan's journey underscores a broader definition of leadership in the data field. Leadership doesn't always equate to managing teams or holding executive titles. Instead, it can manifest through the impact one makes on their community, the connections forged, and the knowledge shared. Megan's leadership is evident in her efforts to demystify data science through LinkedIn posts, courses, and speaking engagements, making her a role model for aspiring data professionals.

Facing Challenges and Embracing Public Speaking

One of Megan's current challenges is mastering public speaking, a skill she's actively working on as she prepares for more speaking engagements. Despite the nerves associated with presenting, Megan is determined to improve, recognizing the value of sharing her knowledge and experiences with larger audiences. Her approach to tackling this challenge reflects her overall career philosophy: start small, embrace discomfort, and gradually build confidence and impact.

Advice for Aspiring Data Professionals

Megan's parting advice for those navigating their careers in data is to start small and be open to experimentation. Building a personal brand and making an impact doesn't happen overnight. It requires stepping outside one's comfort zone, trying new things, and finding what works for you. Leadership and influence can take many forms, and success in the data field often comes from finding your unique path and voice.

Here are 8 tips for aspiring data professionals:

1. Embrace Change and Be Open to New Paths

Megan’s transition from finance to data analytics, and eventually to data advocacy, underscores the importance of being open to change. Don’t be afraid to explore new interests or pivot your career direction if you feel drawn to a different area within the vast field of data.

2. Build a Strong Network

Networking played a crucial role in Megan’s career shift and growth. Engage with the data community through platforms like LinkedIn, attend industry conferences, and participate in forums. Networking isn't just about finding job opportunities; it’s also about learning from others, sharing knowledge, and finding mentorship opportunities.

3. Start Small and Experiment

Whether it's learning new skills, starting a blog, or trying out public speaking, begin with small steps. Megan’s journey into content creation and public speaking began with simple LinkedIn posts, which gradually led to more substantial opportunities. Experimentation can help you discover your passions and strengths.

4. Develop Your Personal Brand

Use platforms like LinkedIn to share your journey, insights, and projects. Building a personal brand helps establish your expertise, makes your work visible, and can attract opportunities. It’s also a platform for you to contribute to the broader conversation in the data community.

5. Embrace Creativity and Communication

Data roles require a blend of technical skills and creativity. Being able to effectively communicate your findings, write compelling content, and present your ideas clearly are invaluable skills. They not only enhance your work but also make it accessible to wider audiences.

6. Step Outside Your Comfort Zone

Challenging yourself to do things that feel uncomfortable, such as public speaking or taking on leadership roles, can lead to significant personal and professional growth. Megan’s proactive approach to facing her fears and pushing her boundaries is a key part of her success.

7. Seek Support and Mentorship

Navigating a career in data can be daunting, especially when facing challenges or stepping into new territories. Seek out mentors and a supportive community who can share their experiences, provide guidance, and offer support as you tackle new challenges.

8. Remember Leadership Can Take Many Forms

Leadership isn’t confined to traditional roles with direct reports. Influence and leadership can be exerted through the quality of your work, your contributions to the community, and the knowledge you share. Find ways to lead that align with your strengths and interests.

Megan's story is a testament to the dynamic and evolving nature of careers in data. Her journey from finance to data advocacy illustrates the diverse opportunities available in the field and the importance of creativity, networking, and personal growth. As Megan continues to explore new challenges and opportunities, her experiences offer valuable lessons for anyone looking to make their mark in the world of data.

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Episode Links/Show Notes