Fay, our Talent Partner, talks to Steph - Business Analyst at Capital on Tap about how she and the team have modernised data infrastructure at COT, the company boot camps and netball team and her quest to master the art of knitting.
What were you doing before you joined Capital on Tap and how did you come about joining us?
I was working as a research analyst in an investment bank. After a few years, I found myself struggling to make the impact I felt I was capable of, due to the bureaucracy and rigid hierarchy. So I began to seek out opportunities in a fast-growing start-up environment. At first, I was unsure exactly what job title I should be aiming for, as my previous experience was heavily based around technical financial analysis, which I wanted to move away from. When I started speaking to Capital on Tap, the wide range of projects requiring input from someone with broad analytical skills became clear. The company had ambitious growth plans and the enthusiasm of the team came across quickly so I decided to make the leap.
What exciting projects have you been a part of during your time here?
I’ve been leading our direct mail marketing for the past 2 years. This is our biggest marketing channel and we send over 10 million letters each year. One of the major ongoing projects within direct mail is finding new sources of data to provide us with addresses to target. The latest new data source we piloted led to a 5x uplift in response rate vs our standard database, which is a very exciting result. I’m currently working on taking that from pilot phase to full implementation.
One of our biggest achievements as a team is the full migration of our data infrastructure to the cloud, which we’ve completed over the last 18 months. When I joined COT, the BI team piggybacked off a copy of our IT production database, applying business logic through a series of views and tables, updated by regular jobs. This soon began creaking at the seams as the business grew, as we experienced issues with concurrency, version control and data integrity. After looking into the various offerings on the market, we decided to use Snowflake as our data warehouse, Fivetran as the pipeline to bring data over from SQL Server, dbt for data transformation and Looker as our visualisation platform. The migration has been a huge undertaking and not without challenges but the results are now really coming to show. All areas of the business now have the data they need at their fingertips and we finally have a data infrastructure fit to meet our requirements as we scale.
What do you enjoy most about working at Capital on Tap?
I enjoy the huge amount of autonomy I get here compared to in my previous role. I have a big say in what projects should be prioritised and what is important for the growth of the business from a data perspective. For example, the migration to our cloud-based stack was driven by the analysts in the team looking for solutions for the issues with our previous system, rather than a mandate from top-down.
I also enjoy how everyone is encouraged to make their ideas heard and pilot them and not be afraid for them to fail. Our CEO himself loves coming up with new ideas for DM designs to try (with varied success).
I also love the breadth of my role - I cover the data behind everything from marketing and onboarding to credit risk, customer behaviour and collections. This gives me a really good insight into all the moving parts that make COT the success it is.
What have you found the most challenging?
Whilst I said above that I love the breadth of my role, it can also be a huge challenge trying to manage the different priorities of different parts of the business, with a small team. One of our key priorities is to upskill data users across the business to be able to self-serve as much as possible to avoid the bottleneck of data requests that accumulate with the BI team. With our new data stack, it feels like we’re now in a really good position for this to improve in 2021.
What does a typical day look like for you at Capital on Tap?
A typical day can vary a lot based on what my current focus is. Often there’s a morning catch up with the team, which in the COVID era will begin with at least one of the team being on mute or having a dodgy internet connection. Then we move on to more constructive discussions about current projects and priorities.
When my focus is on a strategic initiative, the day can be filled with meetings with different stakeholders across the organization to discuss priorities or present analysis to inform our decision making. Other days can be spent getting really deep in the weeds of our code in dbt, structuring new datasets or troubleshooting data discrepancies.
Often, I’ll also spend time upskilling other data users in the business, either helping them out on a one-to-one basis or running sessions like our weekly Looker Lunch-and-Learn sessions.
What are you excited about for 2021 at CoT?
With our cloud-based data stack finally complete, 2021 should be the year where we really start to reap the rewards of the new infrastructure. There are loads of new areas I’m keen to get stuck into this year, for example using machine learning to optimise our direct mail process and working on improving our underwriting model in Spain.
I’m also really hopeful of being able to spend more time back in the office in 2021. We moved to a beautiful new office at the end of 2020 but I’ve yet to be able to see it in person. I’m keen to be back in time for some summertime drinks on the roof terrace, to catch up with colleagues who I haven’t seen face-to-face in so long.
What else have you got involved with at Capital on Tap?
Pre-COVID, I was part of the COT netball team. When the team first formed, we were pretty rusty, with the majority of us not having touched a netball in many years but after a few seasons, we found our momentum and were having a great time. I also loved our Monday evening boot camps, where Damian - our COO would put us through our paces in the local park, his eccentric workout outfits drawing the attention of many passers-by. Now that we’re not able to work out together in person, I’m using the COT Strava Club to keep motivated and support my colleagues in doing the same.
Tell us more about yourself - what do you like doing in your spare time?
I love staying active. I run several times a week and get to the local bouldering gym as much as possible. I try to get away skiing and surfing several times a year, although COVID is making this a lot more difficult. Although I am pretty terrible at relaxing in the typical sense, lockdown encouraged me to explore some more sedate hobbies. Jigsaws and baking have been a big hit. Knitting has been more of a struggle but I’m persevering.