Meet Becky, a Graduate Engineer and Data Scientist in our National Security team. Here she chats to us about the support she’s received from Roke to sculpt her career, how the team in our Manchester hub are bringing their A game to make their mark on the business and educates on the finer points of Zwifting.
I’d studied different areas of science during my PhD (Space Science) and Post-Doc (Computational Modelling) so I already knew that I loved getting stuck into diverse projects. Roke affords the same opportunity, except this time instead of mostly working solo, I get to enjoy all the benefits of working in a driven, fun team made up of experts with great instincts. There is so much to learn and master! Because of the company’s strong commitment to CSR and STEM, I also get to continue being involved in the local community in the North West – something I didn’t necessarily anticipate, but I’m absolutely loving.
You’ve joined our graduate programme. Please tell us about the programme and what you’ve learned so far.
While working for a university I taught myself all the coding that I knew as and when I needed it for the science I was doing. That worked pretty well, and I certainly learnt how to pick up new things quickly, but it’s nothing compared to being taught code/computing by industry professionals. The structured bootcamp was a once-in-a-lifetime experience – I literally couldn’t believe that I was being paid to do a course, taught by experts in their fields, that I would have happily paid money to do six months earlier. It covered all the skills I’d need as a data scientist, from Cloud Computing and DevOps to the fundamentals of Neural Networks.
Project work has been even more of a learning experience; if I went back to do my PhD work now, I’d do it in half the time with the coding skills I’ve picked up from watching others code, pair-programming and being thrown in the deep end to write code in areas I didn’t even know existed the previous week. I’m convinced we should all learn how to code for production now, even if we don’t write that way every day!
You work in our Data Science profession, tell us about the tasks you’ve worked on so far and the skills you’ve learned
Alongside learning about and contributing to our team’s codebase for ongoing work, I’ve been given free-reign to use my research skills from my previous career to develop a new area with one of our clients. I’m thankful that I’ve been given this level of autonomy whilst partaking in the grad scheme. I’m looking at graphs, which is an area I’ve never thought about before. I’ve been able to watch some online lectures to catch myself up – but the best resource I have is the domain-expertise in my team. You can know all you want about a particular skill/technique, but until you know what the data represents and doesn’t represent, you won’t know whether the technique is useful or what its results imply about the dataset. I’m doing lots of thinking about the strengths and limitations of the techniques for the particular data I’m working with. This kind of end-to-end thinking, from closely examining a data source to reporting insight and recommendation, is great fun.
How has Roke supported you so far?
Roke has supported me in so many ways: from increasing my confidence in my abilities, equipping me with new tools, giving me a line manager with whom I have great relationship, giving me the most approachable team ever, supporting my work with rapid, helpful responses from interested folk around the company… there’s so much! I’d say one of the most helpful things that Roke has helped with is my inclination to overwork and not rest well; they’ve helped me to work well and with focus during work hours and to not work when I’m not at work. It sounds so simple, but it has dramatically improved my wellbeing.
Tell us about working from our Manchester office
Manchester’s tenacious. We’ve got start-up vibes and momentum, and we also have all the structure and strength that being a part of Roke gives. It’s been fantastic to meet people in person here; we’re presently small enough that I’m getting to know everyone pretty well. You couldn’t do that at some of the other sites! We’re carving out our own personality within the company, and I like it.
Roke’s hybrid, cross-site working is a huge strength. My project team is split across three Roke sites and it works brilliantly. We know the value of social time together, occasional in-person meet ups and most importantly working together over Microsoft Teams. My colleagues who drive this approach are natural innovators and I’m hugely thankful for them.
What do you do when you’re not working?
I’m a shameless nerd for learning new things; you’ll often find me with my head in a book or on YouTube watching something about history or stats. I’m also a keen Zwifter – virtual indoor bike racing. I’m always game for a meet-up; catch me if you can!
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