In our new series, we ask our key thought leaders to share a more personal perspective on their career journey and current position.

Pieta is our Senior Data Science Consultant at Orion Health, and Data Science Engagement Lead for the NZ Algorithm Hub. Pieta works with healthcare customers to deliver data science and machine learning into real-world clinical and operational workflows. Her focus is on understanding user needs, validating new model opportunities, and delivering safe and effective data science solutions. 

Can you share with us five things you wish you knew before you started out?

Keep talking to your customers

It’s so easy to make assumptions about what customers want. Good consulting and product delivery requires a deep understanding of customer needs and creative solutions to meet them. I try and take every opportunity to engage with customers and learn from their experiences. People are generally very willing to share when you ask from a place of curiosity and empathy. 

Stretch your thinking

The leaders and thinkers I admire have a way of asking good questions, in different ways, to really get to the core of a problem. Being comfortable with a range of problem-solving frameworks, or different mental models equips you to respond effectively to new and challenging situations. I work on deliberately building these skills and reflect on what I see others do that works well. 

You can achieve a lot in 25 minutes

It’s easy to feel like there’s not enough time in a busy schedule to get anything done. I’ve found it pretty amazing what you can achieve with 25 focused minutes and a clear objective in mind. This approach, the Pomodoro Technique, has been around for decades but feels relevant for current workload challenges. 

Don’t wait until you feel ready

It can be easy to fall into the trap of waiting until you feel ready for a new role or opportunity, but that time rarely arrives! Be willing to ask for the support you need to be successful – this could involve mentoring, training, or investment in building a team. Request honest feedback from people you trust and do this early and often. 

Small and consistent improvements

Small improvements each week or month can have big compounding benefits over time. Be patient and continue to invest in what matters – growing relationships, delivering high quality, and building your skills. I’ve seen this called the Power of Tiny Gains (by author James Clear) – 1% better each day leads to 37% better by the end of a year!

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