Meet Tambe Tabitha Achere, Data Analyst in the Data + Digital Labs team
What do you do at Social Finance?
I’m a data analyst, which involves writing the code – mainly Python – needed to build tools for our projects, and meeting with stakeholders to ensure that their requirements are met. I like to be involved in the decision-making. That’s one of the best things about working for Social Finance: I’m in touch with both ends of the work and present throughout the whole process.
I also act as the host for our team show-and-tell sessions each month, which is how I make up for the few weeks I spent considering becoming a journalist when I was younger. More seriously, it is a chance to step out of my bubble and catch up with what the rest of the team is doing.
What kind of projects do you work on?
My work so far has focused on how to improve the children’s social care sector. So far, I have worked on projects that have enabled timely access to trustworthy data about children in care.
One of the biggest issues is that the data they rely on is out of date and full of human errors. Children’s service analysts have to ‘clean’ the data to provide to the Department of Education each April, but they’re trying to fix errors that happened a year ago and may have a whole year’s worth at once. The tool we created allows them to fix errors at any time during the year, saving them months of work.
Also, we built a demand modelling tool that forecasts the movements of children in and out of the care system, enabling authorities to budget better and simulate the possible effects of policy changes.
Do you enjoy seeing your work have an impact?
Yes, I do. It is easy to reduce the work we do to the day-to-day tasks of resolving the next bug or releasing a new feature. But
We’ve been working with a community of children’s social care analysts; teaching them Python and building the validator tools so that they can maintain and update the tools when the project is over. Our approach is, how do we empower this community so that they can maintain the tools we’ve built together. Watching these analysts actively develop their skills makes me happy right now.
Why do you like working for Social Finance?
I have improved as an engineer since I joined. The project and resourcing structure allows me to take on more responsibility while ensuring that there is enough guidance and mentorship so that I don’t get overwhelmed. The people here are kind; they are willing to teach and eager to learn. I like that the work culture encourages good wellbeing.
I also love the range of experience my job gives me. On one hand, I am able to dive down and get a deep view of what we’re working with; writing the code and going over the nitty-gritty details of the architecture. On the other hand, I am invited to participate in the higher-level strategy and external conversations.
What would you tell someone applying for your job?
The people are passionate about what they do, and the attitude here is that anyone can do almost anything. Analysts and engineers are encouraged to be involved in planning, presentations, and problem-solving, as far as they want to.
We also get to attend training sessions on innovative finance, creating social impact bonds and storytelling. You get to see all this broad scope thinking you wouldn’t normally as an engineer. I was really impressed that there’s no ‘box’ you have to stay in. You’ll learn a lot from random coffee chats: topics ranging from innovative finance to systems change, software architecture, and best design practices.
After you’ve spent a few months here, you will find out that your ability to digest problems in complex systems until the point where you know exactly where to start, would have greatly improved.
Where do you think data will have the biggest impact in the future?
Improving our understanding of the world. Several of our projects are built to enable timely access to trustworthy existing data or open new windows of insight by bringing related data sources together. When resources are limited and the stakes are high, insight makes the difference. Who knows, maybe we could reimagine public services for people and communities.
I’ve learnt that solutions do not always have to be big. Small snippets of code delivered strategically can make a big difference.