Devon is a Data Engineer working in Lloyds Banking Group’s Machine Learning Lab, having originally joined the bank graduate scheme in 2015. Devon went from Anthropology student at Durham University, to Data Engineer, and is passionate about building diversity in data science through promoting opportunities for those who are underrepresented in the field and without traditional technical backgrounds.
In 2018, she won the Future Star of Tech in Artificial Intelligence award, and was recently recognised as an Ethnicity Role Model at Lloyds Banking Group. Devon currently sits on the Young Professionals’ Board of the UK WISE Campaign for gender parity in STEM, and Co-Organises the London Artificial Intelligence Club for Gender Minorities.
Why did you choose to work in your field?
I’ve not followed a traditional path into technology! After degrees in Anthropology and National Security, I joined the Lloyds Banking Group graduate scheme and noticed that FinTech (‘Financial Technology’) players like Monzo and Nutmeg were revolutionising the industry. Blogging on FinTech trends left me frustrated that I did not understand terms like ‘machine learning’, or how on earth companies used it to build recommendation systems that seemed, to me then, to work like magic.
My curiosity drove me to spend my evenings and weekends teaching myself to code and learning how to build machine learning models, and my hard work eventually paid off in helping me to achieve a permanent role in Data Analytics. Having since moved through working in robotics, and now to my latest role as a Data Science Engineer, I have been amazed at how Lloyds Banking Group has supported me to follow my interests and switch careers, despite my lack of formal technical background.
What is the best thing about working in technology in banking?
I really love working with data. It provides me with the chance to do all of the things I enjoy most at work; from problem-solving to writing code, or having to regularly learn new technologies on the fly, all whilst trying to translate between technical and business-minded colleagues to make sure that everyone understands the bigger picture. I have never had anybody say ‘no’ whenever I’ve asked for help, and I’ve been given so many opportunities to really stretch what I thought I was capable of. You never stop learning.
What is your top tip for working in this industry?
They say these days that ‘the only constant is change’, and that feels especially crucial to bear in mind when you get out into the working world. Entire industries can change overnight. My advice is to be comfortable with not having all the answers; believe that you can and will learn what you need to along the way. It’s ok to say that you don’t know yet.
Seek out a community of people interested in learning the things you want to know. Joining the Artificial Intelligence Club for Gender Minorities gave me the confidence to make the leap into technology when I doubted myself. As a student, what you may lack in experience, you can make up for with genuine curiosity, a desire to learn, and the ability to assess situations from your unique vantage point. Respect the past and embrace the future!
Want to follow in Devon's footsteps? Click here to find live opportunities.