Fairygodboss

Lisa Zhang sees the excitement in information.

 “Sometimes when I describe my job to my friends, I say it’s like playing video games,” she said. “You go through different layers to get your rewards by identifying areas where there can be improvements. When you get to the final product, you feel a great sense of achievement.” 

And as a Data Science Senior Manager at Spectrum, Lisa gets to pursue this feeling of excitement day in and day out. Her role as part of the Corporate Finance Team is particularly important at a company such as Spectrum, whose customers generate millions of transactions daily. Lisa and her team use that customer data to help the company refine current processes so it can operate more efficiently, ultimately offering a better experience for Spectrum customers. 

Recently, Lisa talked to Fairygodboss about her role and how it’s making a difference at Spectrum. She also shared how Spectrum supports her career goals and how she’s encouraging other women in the data science field.

 Describe your job in one sentence.

 I perform data analysis and data mining to help improve business processes.

Tell me a bit about your current role. 

We capture anomalies that we see in the data we analyze, following trends we see to make predictions on future events. We present our findings to management to help them refine or change their processes so that the company can operate more seamlessly. 

What excites you about your work?

I love finding areas for process improvements. In my current role, I have many of those opportunities. To see that my work helps make people’s jobs easier, that it helps the company from a revenue and cost perspective, and that I can make a difference by discovering new things just by looking at data — that’s pretty cool.

How does Spectrum empower women to “shatter the glass ceiling,” and what programs are in place to drive these efforts?

Within our finance team, we have mentorship programs. I am partnered with a female leader in the tax group and we meet periodically to talk about my career goals and my career path at Spectrum. Talking to her shows me that it's possible for women to achieve any level of success in their careers.

How have you used your role to help bring up other women behind you?

I give my direct reports encouragement and lift them up at every opportunity. I think some women don’t have the confidence their male peers may have — and they should. I just want to instill in their minds that they're really good at what they do. I often challenge them with next-level tasks and responsibilities, but I make sure that I’m there to give support and provide a safety net in case they need it. A lot of women are strong and hardworking, they just need the opportunity to shine.

What’s the most memorable piece of career advice you’ve received?

When I was fresh out of college, I went to a women's conference. I remember an executive giving advice said: “Don’t stop.” She recounted that she had gone through struggles — having family obligations and having other things happen — and that there were many times when she was very close to stopping, but she didn’t. I’m really glad that she shared her experience with us. I have kept that advice with me.

What’s the first thing you do every day at work?

On the days I have a lot of meetings, I start my day by looking at my to-do list and determine what I need to get done that day. I go to my inbox before I jump in any meetings, and then I meet with various project teams. It could be with my team actually working in the data, or with the team that we're providing the data to in order to see where they are in their project. I will often meet with the leaders from other departments to get an understanding of what's in their pipeline and to see how we can help.

On the days that I don't have as many meetings, the first thing I do is pull up three different types of applications that I use to process data. I look at where I left off the previous day and then determine what questions I need to solve. What do I need to find in the data and how do I find it? It's like doing a math problem every day, but on a much larger scale.

What’s your No.1 piece of advice for women who are looking to break into a career in data science?

Be creative and find the areas of improvement you’re passionate about solving with the data. The creativity and the passion is going to be what keeps you moving forward. 

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