A headshot of a woman smiling in front of a painted wall. She is Shreya Aggarwal, a senior manager in data analytics working for PwC.
Shreya Aggarwal. Image: Maxwell Photography

‘Being adaptable is important when working in the field of analytics’

13 Feb 2023

PwC’s Shreya Aggarwal talks to SiliconRepublic.com about her role as a senior manager in data analytics and how the role has evolved as the sector has grown.

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Shreya Aggarwal is a senior manager working in data analytics at PwC. After completing her engineering degree in biotechnology in India, she began her career as a data analytics consultant.

Prior to joining PwC, Aggarwal worked with pharmaceutical and life sciences companies in implementing analytics and AI solutions.

“With over a decade of experience in the analytics field, working for prestigious consulting firms, I have been fortunate to observe the advancement of technology, from traditional data warehousing with on-premise databases to cloud processing and blockchain solutions.”

‘I believe that data is the new diamond –  it requires effort to make it shine and reveal its true value’

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

A typical day for me begins with a hot cup of coffee and a glance at my work calendar and to-do list. Being a planner by nature, I like to start my day by organising my tasks by priority and scheduling my work around my meetings for the day. Recently, I’ve started using the four Ds strategy, shared with me by my mentor, which has proven to be incredibly effective in managing my workload and getting things done. The four Ds stand for: Do, Defer, Delegate and Dump – a handy tool to have in your pocket!

What types of analytics projects do you work on?

As part of PwC’s data analytics practice, I have had the opportunity to work on a wide range of analytics projects across different industries, such as finance, banking, insurance and pharmaceutical, just to name a few.

With a growing emphasis on data analytics and evidence-based decision making, I am frequently given tasks such as reporting and visualisation – which involves building highly customised and automated end-to-end reporting solutions that are able to collect data, transform it and feed into a dashboard that allows for near real-time reporting.

Another task is streamlining data integrations, which involves bringing in operational efficiencies by automating highly manual and time-consuming processes using various data transformation tools such as Alteryx and Python. I also frequently work at improving data quality and designing and implementing data strategies.

One of the things that I enjoy the most about my work is that I get to work with some brilliant people and learn from them everyday. It is also very satisfying to work in a field that allows clients to make informed decisions based on facts and evidence, rather than intuition and guesses, which ultimately leads to positive business outcomes.

What skills do you use on a daily basis?

With an engineering background, I am always seeking ways to improve efficiency through the use of technology. In an industry where the majority of clients are heavily dependent on Microsoft Excel and Google Sheets, they are essential tools that I use daily. Additionally, I use Python for automating data extraction and analysis, Alteryx or Informatica for data transformation, Tableau or PowerBI for data visualisation and reporting, and PowerPoint or Google Slides for presentations.

A significant portion of my role involves communication and interactions with people. I frequently engage in conversations with key stakeholders to understand business problems, propose solutions and translate business requirements into technical requirements for development. The ability to communicate effectively with people is a key skillset that I use on a daily basis.

While one would expect programming, modelling and number crunching, I sometimes find that I need to draw on skills that I did not expect to use in this role, such as project management, stakeholder management, negotiation and presentation skills. This typically happens when I am working on a project that is outside of my area of expertise, or when I am working on a project that requires me to interact with stakeholders from different departments or industries. Therefore, being adaptable and open to learning new skills is important when working in the field of analytics.

What are the hardest parts of working in data analytics?

I firmly believe that data is the new diamond – just like a diamond, it requires effort to make it shine and reveal its true value. One of the most challenging aspects of my job is helping clients understand the potential benefits of investing in analytics solutions. It can be difficult to convince them to take the leap, but it is extremely rewarding when they see how it can improve their operations and bring long-term benefits.

When tackling this challenge, there are a few methods that I tend to use often. I start by understanding the client’s business and their specific goals and objectives. This allows me to tailor my approach to align with their unique needs and concerns. Next, I provide them with clear and concise examples of how analytics solutions have benefited other companies in similar industries. I also use data visualisation tools to demonstrate the potential return on investment and cost savings that can be achieved through the implementation of analytics solutions. Additionally, I make sure to keep the client informed and involved throughout the entire process, so they can see the progress and benefits first-hand. Also, I always offer ongoing support and guidance to help the client fully realise the value of the investment.

What skills and tools do you use to communicate daily with your colleagues?

Much like other professionals in the consulting industry, we typically tend to use emails and virtual calls for any communications. With the new hybrid working environment, virtual calls have become a more prominent communication channel. Although, I do enjoy some days in the office, meeting people near the coffee machine and having those casual catch-ups.

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

My role has evolved significantly over time as I have been fortunate enough to have seen the evolution of analytics starting from on-premise databases to cloud storage, blockchain and AI. I began my career collecting, cleaning and analysing data using traditional databases, and soon transitioned to supporting the migration of on-premise databases to the cloud. As data volumes grew, I shifted my focus to data visualisation, data governance and data management to help organisations gain critical business insights while ensuring data quality, data lineage and data security. Currently, I am focusing on helping clients in shifting their mindsets to data-driven decision-making and building their own analytical capability.

What do you enjoy most about working in data analytics?

What I enjoy most about working in analytics is the diversity of the field. No day is the same, and there’s always something new to learn and explore with some brilliant minds. The versatility of analytics and its applicability to a wide range of industries makes it an exciting field to work in. Every business has their own challenges with analytics and as an analytics professional, I enjoy the variety of business problems that I get to work on and the new challenges that arise as the industry progresses. The technology space is constantly evolving, and new tools are emerging all the time. This keeps me on my toes to learn new things and makes it really interesting.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to work in analytics?

Don’t shy away from challenges and new technologies. The field is constantly evolving, why shouldn’t we?

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