David Mead

BSC (Hons) Sport & Exercise Science
Data Product Consultant

I studied AS and A levels in Maths, Geography and PE and AS level Biology at Collyer’s from 2014-2016. I had a great time at Collyer’s! What really impressed me was the quality of teaching. Particular mentions to my Maths and PE teachers, who really went above and beyond to help their students achieve their goals, utilising engaging teaching approaches.

After Collyer’s I went to study for a BSc in Sports and Exercise Science at Loughborough University. This allowed me to carry out an Internship with Fulham FC as a 1st team Sports Scientist, giving me a diverse array of responsibilities, which included creating and delivering a ‘Player Profile Database’ to assess future Fulham FC players physical quantification metrics that were measured during medical examinations before players were signed. This allowed quick and effective decisions to be made on whether the potential new player matched or exceeded the current squad’s physical performance, how they matched up with their position and where they were relative to the sample population statistics derived from other clubs. The database is still being used to help with recruitment decisions.

Whilst I was at secondary school I volunteered with the Broadbridge Heath FC youth team, where I was the assistant coach setting-up and organise training sessions for the squad. It was an incredibly rewarding process, helping youth footballers improve based upon training implemented by myself and the head coach and to provide some mentoring based on prior experiences I learnt whilst playing Football. This also helped me achieve my Duke Of Edinburgh award.

The choice of career post-graduation strayed away from the sport science industry, as I was more interested in applying more advanced technical and data skills applied within the business world in comparison to the slightly dated approaches utilised within Sport, which led me towards Kubrick who provided specialist training in this specific area. I took on an Internship as a Technical Analyst which gave me a head start into the world of Data product Consulting. Currently I work for Kubrick Group as a data product consultant, where I have specialised as a lead artificial intelligence developer and business analyst for my current client AstraZeneca, a multinational pharmaceutical company. My responsibility at AstraZeneca is to deliver and enable artificial intelligence. Thus far, I have utilised advanced AI programming within the Oncology department, to automate the production of clinical reports, which summarise the side effects to clinical trials based on extracted data. Overall, the process will help AstraZeneca release safe and effective drugs onto the market quicker, to ensure the general population receive their required medication.

I would say both the Fulham experience and KBR technical analyst role helped improve my all-round data product consultant skills during my placement year, where I was able to apply data and technical skill to my experiences at Fulham FC, whilst learning the softer business skills during my consulting work at KBR.

A typical day involves a stand-up meeting in the morning, where we discuss our set tasks for the day, what we achieved yesterday and if there’s any blockers that would prevent us from achieving the work, we set out to complete on the day. After this I usually have various other meetings which involve capturing business requirements for the delivery of a data product, Q&A sessions with technical teams to understand any issues we currently have with delivery the data product and 1-1 sessions with my team, where I provide mentoring to specific team members about how to approach tasks, to help them learn from what I have experienced so far. Any time in-between meetings usually involve data analysis, developing code and testing the code works in relation to the expected functional outputs of the data product.

I love being able to use data to influence decision making within a variety of different business contexts, which helps businesses make the right decisions, quickly. It is a really rewarding process, which can help expose novel ways of improving performance respective to each company goal. I also love seeing how different programming languages applied to new technology can enhance ageing business processes, through the process of automation. Being able to automate clinical study reports within AstraZeneca, to increase the speed of drug release was something that I really enjoyed working on, as the end output really put into perspective how utilising a collaborative approach between data and automation can create a significant impact on society.

The three key skills for a data product consultant are communication, data analysis and presentation skills. Being able to communicate complex business problems to technical teams in a simple way helps them produce solution. Data analysis skills are key to interrogating data in initial exploration stages to understand the nature of data sets, to help finding intriguing insights for the business to understand and act, whilst also being able to quantify performance changes based upon business actions. Lastly, it’s vital to be able to present business problems in a simple and easy to digest way, as this will help overcome large blockers for projects through finding the right solutions, which saves businesses a lot of time and money.

For someone looking to get into the data and technology sector my advice is to start learning basic code. Start off with the fundamentals of programming in Excel, which will help you appreciate standard programming language. Once you’re comfortable, move on to introductory courses in Python and SQL, as these coding languages are pivotal to essential data analysis techniques. These technical skill sets will help you provide the answers needed in most interview scenarios. However, I would say the best way to differentiate yourself from other interviewees is to develop your communication skills. Work on public speaking, presentation skills and outlining problems in simple and easy to digest ways, as this will help you in future work-related tasks to present the issue statements clearly, so you can receive the answers you need to progress. This blended skill set of technical and communication skills are critical for most roles in the industry and yet businesses are still struggling to find employees with both. I would also recommend taking a degree which incorporates scientific elements with mathematical application (STEM), as this will help you get into most companies. However, if you don’t have this background, I would recommend looking into data training companies like Kubrick Group, FDM or Grayce who help accelerate graduates’ career paths in the data and technology sector, through initial training and deployment schemes to various clients to increase your data related exposure.

The advice I would give to my younger self is go for every relevant opportunity presented. Each opportunity is a way of differentiating yourself from other students, which could help you stand-out down the line in job applications, interviews, and networking opportunities. Correspondingly, build out your network as much as you can with your fellow students, as they could help you in your career path at a time you least expect.

What next David? I would like to start managing large scale data-driven projects as a data product manager, to help drive valuable insights or optimise business processes through utilising automation techniques for businesses to thrive. After enough experience managing and delivering data-driven products, I’d like to undertake an MBA at a major institution like London Business School (LBS) or London School of Economics (LSE), specialising in data analytics, artificial intelligence solutions and management techniques to facilitate my development towards a chief information / data officer.