This week’s Life Lessons have been shared by Jen Drabble, Director of Data in financial services. She leads her team to focus on applying a scientific approach to fintech problems and embedding a data-driven and product led culture. She is a keen advocate for encouraging diversity within the data industry and believes that a breadth of experiences and backgrounds build the best products. We got to speak to Jen about the advice she shared in her Life Lessons, covering the importance of being open to learning, how to change your perspective about failure, and what drives her passion for her work.
In her Life Lessons, Jen touched on the importance of having a continually open approach to learning and growing, no matter how senior your role is. She spoke of the misconception that “you think that the next time you get promoted you have to know all the answers and be perfect”. Despite how daunting this misconception may appear, Jen reflected on the grounding realisation that “everyone’s on a journey. No one really has all the answers and we’re all just muddling through life in the same way”. A self-professed “massive believer in life-long learning”, Jen goes out of her way to continue to expand her flexible mindset, trying not to become too comfortable in her positions of responsibility. She shared her view that “comfort is a massive thing, if you feel like you could do your job day in day out with your eyes closed then maybe it’s time to start doing something new […] maybe start experimenting with your approach, or your style, or how you do something different”.
This determination to challenge comfort is echoed in Jen’s outlook on failure, as she described the journey she has been on to now see mistakes as positive learning experiences. “It comes back to having that learning approach”, she said, “if you’re too worried about failing you’re never going to start anything or try anything”. Jen is clear in setting this positive precedent around failure in her team, and she spoke of how they are proactive in asking for feedback. “If you’re asking for feedback it puts you in that state of reflection anyway. You’re more likely to receive it and to listen […] that helps you reframe how you think about going through things in more of a positive way”. By taking this engaged mindset, Jen believes that “when you approach it with a bit more curiosity, you’re more likely to learn how you will make it better or do it a different way in the future”.
It is clear that Jen’s passion for the work that she does derives from the team that she leads. “The happiest time in my day is spending quality time with my team”, she said. She also spoke of how she has recently started to use this quality time to measure her effectiveness in her role. “Previously I was evaluating whether I’d had a good day at work on how much I’d got done or how efficient I’d been”. Moving away from solely equating a productive day with a completed to-do list, Jen began to incorporate her team into the implementation of coaching methods she had come across, dedicating more time to understanding what drives and motivates the people she leads. “Having people in your team is a privilege, you’re not going to have them forever, so you make sure that that experience is as positive as possible”.
At the start of this month, we celebrated International Women’s Day, against the backdrop of this year’s theme; Choose to Challenge. Jen shared the recent challenge she has set herself. “I choose to challenge the language I use when I speak about myself, and encourage other women to do the same. Language is powerful, it can value us or it can diminish us. My commitment is to catch myself when I deflect or undersell myself and my work, and to encourage other women to back themselves too. And I’m starting with the word ‘sorry’!” Take up Jen’s challenge, and choose to change the language you use when you speak about yourself.