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Niamh O'Brien, Functional & Industry Analytics Analyst, Accenture

Niamh O'Brien, Functional & Industry Analytics Analyst, Accenture

What does your job involve?

As an analytics analyst at Accenture what we typically do on the client's site is look at anything to do with data. One of the main tasks we have is how the data is structured, where it sits, is the client aware of how that operates and how we can source that data for when the client asks us for a particular request. The client could ask us to identify a certain cohort of customers for example, and what they look like and their attributes. We would then have to visualise what they look like. It also involves presenting that work to the client.

What skills are important to be successful?

The two core skills that underpin analytics are computer programming and maths. We use both skills in combination to do any analytics work. As part of any consulting or analytics work you also have to be able to present and visualise your results and your insights into analytics. The three core skills then would be maths, programming and communication.

What do you love about your job?

From an analytics point of view what I love about my job is that it always feels really positive. It feels like you're bringing a new insight to the client that they didn't know and you're enabling them to make decisions. Often clients have a lot of data and don't know what to do with it or what it looks like. A simple visualisation can make a decision so easy for them to make. It also means that they can customise the decisions they make. When you cluster customers into different groupings they know how to treat them and can make their customers happier. In terms of being in analytics in the consulting space, you get the chance to use all of your skills, which was one of my main goals when I came out of college. I did engineering in college, which is obviously very technical, but I also knew that I was able to communicate and use the software skills. With consulting you get to do the technical part of maths and programming but you also get to work with the client to present work. It's the perfect blend of technical and soft skills.

What other things make your job enjoyable?

There is a really good wellbeing team in Accenture, which ran a campaign this year where everyone could get a discounted activity tracker so you would always be aware of how active you're being through the day, which is really important. Then there was also another campaign called war on waste where everyone got a glass keep cup, which was really good as it's something you use every day. I think it's really important for Accenture that we're leading in new technologies with the client but it's also important to show that we're leading in terms of how we treat our employees and how we treat the environment.

What advice would you give a first year student?

I'm a really great advocate for engineering. I think it's a great degree as you're problem solving every single day. So you go into an interview and you don't need to explain that you're a problem solver – everyone knows you are because you're an engineer. There's a huge amount of practical work involved, you're doing a lot of labs and you're always working in teams. Engineering is a great degree to show you're a problem solver, which is what every employer wants really. Secondly, I love team sports. When you're working within a team you get used to people's different personalities. I've been captain of a few different teams and I think that has been really beneficial. When you go to the workplace you know how to manage different people so they achieve a similar outcome. The third thing is being involved in other communities within college, Engineers Without Borders, for example. What Accenture and a lot of employers want to see is that you're ready to be an Accenture employee. In Accenture you do your job but you're also involved in clubs and communities. So if you're doing that in college you will look like a natural fit.

How did you get your job?

You always have the typical careers fair but as a graduate it's difficult to differentiate between companies that seem very similar. What drew me to Accenture is that I went to an Accenture experience day, which was brilliant. We went one evening to Accenture and it felt like all the analytics team were there. We had the managing director, senior managers, new grads and more experienced people. We went through a case study of what a data analyst does on a daily basis.