My journey in tech so far - Mary Andenola

by Mary Andenola, Data Analyst at Aptiv
Our blog with Mary Andenola, who is a tech returner and part of our CFG community.

Why do you want to return to the tech industry? Did you consider any other options?

I did consider pivoting to a career in Actuary during my Sabbatical. It was always an option due to my love of Maths and Stats, but the tech industry still calls me. The ability to drive and engineer change with technology in various industries such as healthcare or sustainability and the fast paced, challenging but rewarding nature of the sector is why I want to return.

What challenges have you faced working in tech (if any)?

I’ve found it challenging overcoming imposter syndrome and building confidence is crucial for professional growth and navigating career advancement paths.

Then thinking about more recently, what made you want to take a break from the tech industry? What has your sabbatical involved?

I really value education and although I was learning from many areas at work, I felt I needed to equip myself with more technical knowledge that I missed out on in my undergraduate. So I searched around for some courses and I found a Masters Course in Computer Science that really intrigued me. I took a sabbatical leave and it was the best decision ever. I’ve been able to engross myself in topics like Computer Vision with Machine Learning, Scalable Computing, building an IoT Air Quality detector system, Artificial Intelligence, Security and Privacy just to name a few things which I don’t think I would have had the opportunity to learn. 


How did you first get into tech, what was your role and what made you want to do it?

I first got into technology when I attended a Stemettes event when I was 12. Ever since I applied for nearly all the tech events I saw, and I knew I wanted to work in the tech industry.

During my undergraduate in Maths and Stats, I worked with data continuously. I grew to value data and what it can do for a person/company. It oils the wheels of a company and can be a source of driving change. Hence, I got my first role as a Data Analyst.


Could you tell us a bit more about what you did day to day, in your previous role as a Data Analyst?

I try to start the day with a workout, hopefully the gym or maybe a home workout. Work starts at 9 am so I make sure to be at my desk by then. I have a meeting at 9:30 so usually I set up my computers and screens then look at emails from 9am till my meeting. 

The 9:30 meeting is a half an hour daily roundup where the team comes together, talks about what they’ve done the previous day and then what they’re going to do for the day. 

Then we go into our separate little streams because we have separate projects that we’re working on and collaborative projects as well. So I have meetings for one project that I’m working on which involves analysing data for scraps materials in the company. I’d have meetings with my co-business analyst where we decide on how to showcase this data in a dashboard for other uses. So that’s three hours of calls, analysing data sets and also dashboard creation then I’ll have lunch. 

Over lunch, I might go for a short walk or buy some food. After lunch, the next four hour stretch involves me working on a project for the supply chain team. I ensure that the data gathered is of high quality and this might involve long hours spent on data cleaning. This often requires working with subject matter experts. So that’s me talking to a lot of subject matter experts and data engineers, solution architects, technical leads, and data scientists as well, ensuring that our data is gathered properly, and also the data can be analysed. 

For example, let’s say we have data relating to copper, and I don’t have a background in copper creation or anything. So I’d have to go and talk to someone that is an expert in the field within the company and ask them how is this being provided and what is the process in terms of this material, going from copper to something that’s been manufactured by the company and how it goes into the cars that we sell to our customers and stuff like that. These insights help us to build a dashboard for the business. Usually my day ends at around 5 pm. I try really hard for it not to go over. 

From your LinkedIn profile, we can see you are currently a student. What are you currently studying and why did you decide on that particular course/topic?

I’m currently pursuing a Masters in Computer Science with Data Science. This course was a nice blend of my data science strengths but it also touched on the computer science knowledge that I felt I was missing, and it really gave me an insight into topics such as cloud and scalable computing or using computer vision to image detection or machine learning to detect handwriting signatures to evaluate mathematical expressions.

What do you enjoy about being a CFG Instructor, and what would you say to other people considering doing it?

Being a CFG instructor, I have the opportunity to share my expertise and knowledge with others. Being able to pass on valuable skills and insights to aspiring learners, and see them grow and develop in their journey. Additionally, CFG provides a platform to foster a supportive community of learners and connect with like-minded individuals, build relationships, and create a network of learners who can support and learn from each other which I really value and would emphasise when others are considering becoming an instructor.

Finally, what advice would you give to other women considering returning to tech/starting out in tech, or just starting out in their coding journey?

My advice is to believe in yourself and your abilities and advocate for yourself. It’s good to hope others will advocate for you and see the value you bring to the team; however, you need to be able to advertise and promote yourself.