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Why I work in tech by a data architect

Bridget Keam

Bridget is a data architect for corporate data in PDS. We spoke to her about her job, what she does, and why she enjoys working in tech.

What is a data architect?

This is a new role in PDS and it’s been a fascinating ten months understanding where I can bring value. A data architect is responsible for designing, deploying, and managing an organisation’s data. This is done by understanding strategic, tactical, and operational requirements for data.

My role is funded by three large programmes:

  • integrated workplace management programme - this is the introduction of a system to manage our buildings. It'll be particularly important as we start restoring the Palace and move staff to other buildings
  • interaction management - this is the upgrade of our Microsoft Dynamics customer relationship management (CRM) system as we're looking to use it more widely to manage our communication and business processes across Parliament
  • finance and HR systems programme - this focuses on merging applications across Finance and HR in the House of Lords and Commons

All of these programmes are affected by the way we integrate data across applications, the way data is mastered, and how this is governed. I’m a contributor to Parliament’s first information and data strategy which is an enormous undertaking to transform the way we work with data and get value from it.

I've also recently started working with colleagues in a user journey club, part of the service design work.

What training or experience do you need to do your job?

My early education and career was in Australia working in academic medical research where I got to play with lots of technology. I moved to the UK in my mid-twenties and worked in the not-for-profit sector for over 20 years in project implementation and management.

Having children made me think hard about what I wanted next out of my career and with the support of wonderful colleagues and a supportive organisation, I was able to move into business analysis and later into data architecture.

The role of data architect can vary across industries and size of organisation. There’s no single course that can provide all the training needed.

My previous work in IT and business change has given me great experience to bring to the role. Alongside this, an interest in business process, data management, and the power of data for decision making is essential.

I’ve completed a number of courses and have accreditations in data modelling, project management, business change management, information and data architecture, transformational leadership, and enterprise architecture.

I attend data conferences when I can and I'm a member of international data management networks, and a number of data forums. If I don’t know something, I’ll attend a webinar.

Before joining Parliament, I was also privileged to have a leading enterprise data architect as a mentor who gave me confidence in my knowledge and was a great sounding board on all things data.

What attracted you to Parliament?

Working for democracy and the citizen. I strongly believe that technology is an enabler. I have a keen interest in politics and being at the heart of it is fascinating.

Best parts of your job?

Problem solving – I love a puzzle. I also enjoy engaging with Parliamentary and PDS colleagues, understanding issues from a number of different perspectives and looking for ways forward. It isn’t always easy but it’s never boring.

Most difficult thing about your job?

All the meetings and the really knotty problems I have limited influence in solving.

I’ve only met one or two people outside of technology who know what a data architect is so I tend not to use this as an opener when I introduce myself!

Why do you enjoy working in tech?

Everything is technology now. The main reason I enjoy working in tech is because I have a strong belief that making work and life easier through technology gives us more time to be productive and space for creativity.

Read other posts from people around PDS about their career paths

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