Sophie Shawdon, an analytics lead at ClearScore, talks about staying productive in her role and why she prioritises purpose-driven work.
Sophie Shawdon is an analytics lead at ClearScore, a fintech business with customers in the UK, Australia, India and South Africa. She works with teams in each of these regions to create strategic insights that help shape the company’s products.
Here, she tells us about some of the projects she’s working on now, how she stays productive and why she loves her job.
‘I feel genuinely excited to go work every day’
– SOPHIE SHAWDON
What does a typical day look like for you?
There’s definitely no such thing as typical day! I’m given a huge amount of freedom to do what I feel needs doing, meaning there’s always a lot of different projects going on. Generally, though, I’ll start the day on a stand-up with the whole Australia team.
This is something most teams at ClearScore will do: it’s a 10-minute meeting where everyone gives an update on what they’re currently working on. It’s great for giving everyone visibility of what the team’s working on as a whole, to share ideas and diagnose problems.
Some days will be mostly focused on in-depth projects, coding and building statistical models that will help us to think how to best apply ideas to serve our users and understand their behaviour.
Are there any particular projects you’re enjoying?
At the moment, I’m focused on helping our Australian users get better access to credit. I’m working with lenders and looking at government regulation to ensure that our customers are getting a fair price point for credit, and generally trying to make their financial lives as straightforward as possible.
Before that, I spent eight months working on a new feature that went live in the UK at the start of February. It’s aimed at users who can’t get access to credit, by giving them ways to proactively improve their credit score to give them a better financial situation.
Other days my time will be spent maintaining data infrastructure and leading training sessions for colleagues. I also get involved with our partners, whether that’s helping them to try and improve their journeys or working on features together to better serve our users.
What is one of your biggest challenges at work?
At the moment, it’s the time zones. It’s a first-world problem to have, but this is something that you need to factor in when working at an international business – my boss has always been based in Australia so I’m used to it.
However, I love how much flexibility we have working at ClearScore. My colleagues support me in ensuring we’re not on calls at crazy hours.
Thanks to this structural flexibility, it’s encouraged me to take the afternoon off too when I need to. This means I can go to the beach, meet with friends and enjoy a good work-life balance.
Which skills are most important for someone working in analytics, do you think?
Thinking analytically is, unsurprisingly for me, a really big one. It’s not enough to just solve a problem, the solution has to work seamlessly for our users and partners. As such, being able to think critically and to take a holistic view of solving problems is really important.
I still use my technical skills – namely my coding languages – a lot. It’s something I’ve really appreciated as I’ve become more senior, the fact that I haven’t had to stop doing this as I’ve moved up. I really enjoy coding and I get a lot of support to develop these skills further. I actually feel energised to spend my own time learning those languages.
What helps you stay focused throughout the day?
Aside from coffee, good music! I definitely have a different soundtrack for the different areas of my job.
Taking a break is important too, and taking a half-hour walk to mull things over helps. If I’m feeling unproductive, I can either sit at my computer and try and bash something out for 45 minutes, or I can go for a walk and come back refreshed to have a much more productive afternoon.
If I’m on a deadline and can’t afford to take that time out, then a change of scene is crucial. In the UK office we have a bunch of different break-out areas, meeting rooms and a garden which was gorgeous in the summer – all with internet connections, which means you can still get on with your work if you need to. This reframing makes a big difference.
What’s your favourite thing about your job ?
Up until now, my roles have been UK-based but I’ve been able to travel to Australia, India and South Africa. Being able to travel so much has 100pc been part of my career happiness. As well as seeing those places, I’ve been able to visit some other amazing places along the way.
The people are a huge factor in why I enjoy working at ClearScore so much. From directors to other colleagues, everyone is hugely passionate and really cares about what they do and the product. I feel genuinely excited to go work every day. The problems I get to work on are interesting academically with a tangible user impact and this is so important to me. I don’t want to work in an industry where the work doesn’t matter.