A young woman with long brown hair smiling at the camera against a backdrop of leafy plants.
Baoxian Huang. Image: Aon

Why presentation skills are important for a career in data

2 Nov 2021

Aon’s Baoxian Huang talks about her role working with data analytics and why presenting data is a lot like storytelling.

Baoxian Huang is a business partner within the client solutions team at the Aon Centre for Innovation and Analytics (ACIA) in Singapore, having joined the company in 2019.

In her role, she helps her colleagues in Aon to understand and interpret data to make more informed operational and strategic decisions focused on driving growth and financial performance.

Apart from using data analytics to deliver insights, Huang and her team also work closely with the rest of the business to establish frameworks to drive the right behaviours forward.

‘The job also constantly provides opportunities to make learning part of my work’

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

There is no typical day, and what I like is even though there are some definite patterns on a day-to-day basis, there is still a lot of variety in the work.

I get to engage and interact with various stakeholders from various functions across regions on a variety of subjects including project management, data ingestion, understanding current business challenges and exploring how our tools can help support the business’ goals and report results meaningfully to senior leaders.

Stakeholders I work with cover local finance, IT, operations, account executives, business heads, sales leaders and the C-suite across different countries. This gives me an all-encompassing perspective of Aon.

What types of project do you work on?

I partner closely with the business leaders in various countries such as the Netherlands, Portugal and China to provide them with actionable insights across the client life cycle from two of our core programmes to help them drive actionable fact-based business decisions with a focus on growth, retention and profitability.

I also work on enhancement initiatives to improve our mode of delivering data and analytics to our stakeholders. For example, I’m working on a dashboard to provide analytical insights to regional stakeholders to support our firm’s growth strategy.

What skills do you use on a daily basis?

Analytical, communication, project and time management skills. Communication skills to help facilitate meetings and ask the right questions. Analytical skills come into play when we absorb what is being said and ask insightful questions to obtain the information we require.

Project and time management to juggle the different projects and ad-hoc requests for data. An inquisitive mind to constantly look to increase my Aon IQ and learn about the ever-evolving data and analytics landscape is certainly a plus!

What is the hardest part of your working day?

With the different ongoing projects, I might be in different phases at the same time – which may sometimes be overwhelming! Hence, planning my time properly is key. I spend time planning ahead to ensure that deadlines are met, while leaving capacity for unexpected tasks.

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

I kick-start my day by heading to the gym and getting an iced coffee! This keeps me energised and gives me an extra energy boost. I find having a to-do list useful to help me focus on what needs to be done and when it needs to get done.

On a daily basis, I break down the items in my to-do list into smaller tasks and prioritise the tasks that must be completed. This keeps me on track in my day to day and crossing each item out makes the entire list feel a lot less daunting.

And of course, take regular breaks throughout the day. Whether it’s an afternoon cup of coffee, a quick five-minute stretch or even just having a quick virtual chat with a colleague, it helps me to recharge both physically and mentally.

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

Presentation skills! We have sophisticated and beautiful data visualisation that can deliver insights to the business, but the challenge is to position the features in a way that resonates with the target audience.

Coming from a finance background with no prior experience, this was definitely something I struggled with initially. Standard presentations of just describing the features of the tool will not generate excitement amongst the audience.

What helped was placing the audience needs at the core of the presentation. By thinking about your audience, understanding what they want and how the product can fulfil their need. It’s all about storytelling, which I have learnt a lot about here at Aon.

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

It will be a dynamic role as there are always new types of data, tools and development in technologies! Client needs are constantly changing and we need to adapt quickly and develop in order to anticipate their needs and fulfil their expectations.

What do you enjoy most about the job?

I enjoy that the work we do provides value to the stakeholders. Whether it is data-driven insights that allow them to make more strategic decisions, strong collaborative relationships or even just by simplifying processes, there is a purpose in the work we do.

The job also constantly provides opportunities to make learning part of my work. Organised Aon IQ sessions help improve my commercial knowledge about the different products Aon has.

Business intelligence visualisation workshops on PowerBI and Tableau equip me with new skills. Given the dynamic global economy, this is crucial as we want to always stay ahead of the curve in order to be more efficient, relevant and to deliver maximum value to our stakeholders.

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