EY Marie Taylor-Ghent
Marie Taylor-Ghent, director, data analytics, EY. Image: EY

Communication is key for EY’s data analytics director

24 Jan 2018

Many could go into data analytics thinking about the importance of strong technical skills, but the ability to successfully communicate is just as essential.

There are so many different kinds of roles within the data analytics sphere, and each one will come with slightly different experiences.

It can depend on the team you work with, the company you work for and the projects you’re working on.

Marie Taylor-Ghent has been working in EY’s data analytics team for nearly four years and she was recently appointed director. Here, she shares a glimpse of what a day in her role is like.

What is your role within EY?

I joined EY in 2014, taking a key role in our burgeoning data analytics team.

I lead the development of an exciting new data platform, transforming how we perform fund audits in EY on a global scale. Growing with the business, I was delighted to be appointed director last year.

If there is such a thing, can you describe a typical day in the job?

I’m interested in the people agenda, and frequently read Silicon Republic’s ‘A Day in the Life’ series. So, I know how commonly the line ‘No two days are the same’ features! But, I promise, it’s true for me, and an element of the role that I really embrace.

Guiding product development, overseeing delivery operations and measuring our growth against ambitious targets are common themes in my working week, but very little is routine as we strive to continuously improve our processes and working habits.

On Monday, I could be sharing our success story and offering solutions to our largest clients. On Wednesday, I might relish the creative challenge of developing content with our marketing pros. By Friday, I am with the management team working on a global roll-out, by ensuring that we have the right team in place to support the product.

The ability to multitask is a prerequisite as I shift gears between competing priorities, every day of every week.

What types of project do you work on?

I work on one very large project, which encompasses multiple work streams, from voice of the customer to commercial modelling.

There is great depth and breadth in the areas under my remit, offering huge variety and massive opportunity to develop a broad range of skills.

What skills do you use on a daily basis?

It’s easy to imagine that the numeric and analytical elements of my role dictate the key skills required, but they don’t.

EY is a people business and so, the most important skill I possess is an ability to communicate successfully and engage others. My team, my stakeholders and my clients are my absolute priority; and flexing my style to motivate, inspire confidence and connect with them is something I have honed over time and take great pride in.

What is the hardest part of your working day?

Achieving balance. There is always work to be done, new ideas to be refined, problems to solve, goals to be reached – the list goes on!

Prioritising work streams in a way that pleases all is impossible. So, I am careful not to overpromise and I work hard to manage expectations. But it’s not easy. Thankfully, I have a lot of personal lessons learned to draw on, and I work in an environment that values balance and supports people in achieving same – especially a healthy work-life balance.

Do you have any productivity tips that help you through the working day?

I don’t want to lose readers partway through this piece but, honestly, I love my lists! I’m a massive believer in the cathartic process of committing ideas to paper, or screen.

Doing so can set intent and reduce a daunting workload to concise actions. Lists also help me separate what is truly urgent from what might wait. Once a task is complete, I tick it off my list and move on – a satisfying step that lets me acknowledge progress.

When you first started this job, what were you most surprised to learn was important in the role?

Joining a partnership – in one of the Big Four accounting firms, no less – gave me an expectation of a rigid business environment: hierarchical by nature, where every department had clearly defined roles and boundaries.

However, the approach in EY is far more fluid and our landscape is quite flat. Our partners operate in the truest sense of the word, sponsoring and supporting teams in a collegial and collaborative manner.

Moreover, the overall approach, particularly with respect to new business, is quite entrepreneurial. I embrace the opportunity to create a business, within our business.

How has this role changed as this sector has grown and evolved?

Ours is a growth story – the sector, EY and, specifically, my data analytics team. In line with this, my role has naturally grown, expanding to face the new challenges that evolution presents.

I love the fact that, in EY, we are not just thriving in a change environment; we are a real catalyst, contributing to the growth and evolution of data analytics as a sector.

What do you enjoy most about the job?

Innovation is very much part of our culture; we are always seeking new ways of doing things and creating inventive solutions to everyday problems. This, in and of itself, is incredibly satisfying to me.

However, our data platform has demonstrated rapid benefit realisation. Owning part of EY’s overall success is a real high point in my team’s journey.

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