Barry James, Bank of Ireland
Barry James, customer analytics manager, Bank of Ireland. Image: Connor McKenna

Want to tell stories with data? At Bank of Ireland, you can

1 Dec 2016

As the face of banking changes, jobs in the banking sector change with it. Bank of Ireland’s Barry James gives us some insight into what the bank looks for from tech talent.

By all metrics, data is an essential part of the tech sector, driving decision-making, product development, design and much more. Given data’s importance in the sector, it should come as no surprise that data jobs are in no short supply – from data scientists to data analysts.

At Career Zoo’s October event, we spoke to Barry James, customer analytics manager at Bank of Ireland. He told us the important role data plays in the bank and spoke about how the face of banking is changing.

“The data that we have represents probably about 30pc of all of the financial data in Ireland. That’s a big challenge when we start talking about analytics,” said James.

Furthermore, the advent of data has represented an industry shift for banks. As operations move more into the cloud, and away from legacy and proprietary systems, open source solutions are becoming more prevalent.

A challenge like that needs the right kind of team to handle it. As James put it, “Changing the culture and developing a data-driven organisation means that we need the right type of data scientists, the right type of analysts working on the problems that we have.”

But what is the right type of data analyst?

“We always talk about the need for people who have maths or stats, who are very numeric; people who have some programming skills. Hackers are fine! They don’t need to be the best programmers in the world, but they need to know their way around SQL and R, and figure things out with programming tools,” said James.

But when it comes to working in tech, the onus isn’t just on talent to tick all the right boxes – the employer has some work to do, too. At Bank of Ireland, the aim is to make it easier for the best talent to come on board.

“In order for us to get the right people, we need to become a tool-agnostic organisation, so that people bring that skill set with them, and they are not expected to know a certain number of tools,” said James.

But there is one important thing that Bank of Ireland does look for from employees: curiosity.

“[Candidates] need to be able to tell stories. They need to be able to take the complexity that we see in the data and deliver that for others in the organisation, so that we can help everybody understand the data and the patterns that we’re seeing.”

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Kirsty Tobin
By Kirsty Tobin

Kirsty Tobin served as careers editor of Silicon Republic from 2015 up to August 2017. When she was younger, she had a dream where she started and won a fight with a T-Rex, so she’s pretty sure she kicked butt at this, too. Passions include eating all the cake, watching more TV than is healthy and sassy comebacks.

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