How does Amsterdam Data Collective help you in your career development? What is the culture like? What advice do employees have for prospective candidates? This time we interviewed Anna Dekker.
What is your role at Amsterdam Data Collective?
I am an Analyst, which means that I am working on a project basis for companies to help them with a variety of challenges that have to do with data. I develop models for clients, so that they can abstract all kinds of insights from their business data. I also help clients in setting up dashboards for example, or to devise a strategy on how to use data more effectively within their organization.
My job can be summarised as broad, analytical, and creative. Good communication skills are also important, as I have to understand the dynamics, and different needs, within an organization between the technical data employees and commercial employees that do not code every day. As a consultant I can strike a bridge between these two groups and help them to reach a better collaboration. I have worked at Amsterdam Data Collective for ten months now already, it has gone very fast. I have worked for all the sectors [financial, public health and retail], so this helped me to get an idea of what I like.
How did you first learn about Amsterdam Data Collective?
I knew a couple of people from University that started working there and I looked into Amsterdam Data Collective before my thesis. However, then Amsterdam Data Collective got a bit out of my sight. When I finished my thesis, I knew much better what I wanted and then it came to my mind that Amsterdam Data Collective was exactly what I was looking for. I got into contact with my former study mates, and I heard positive stories from them, so that renewed my interest in Amsterdam Data Collective.
“If we have a good idea, we are welcomed and even applauded to change something”
How would you describe working at Amsterdam Data Collective?
I would say that Amsterdam Data Collective has a sweet spot between a start-up and a fully grown-up organisation. There are a lot of opportunities to shape the company ourselves. If we have a good idea, we are welcomed and even applauded to change something. It gives a lot of vibrant energy. At the same time, the procedures have been established and situated, so that we are supported to do our work very well. I do not have to worry about anything that has not been managed yet. This gives a lot of freedom in my work.
Do you have an example of the freedom you get?
My first project was together with Rik, the managing director and co-founder. First, I felt some discomfort because I had to work with such a senior colleague. Rik gave me much responsibility right from the start, from handling client contact to developing the model. The problem I had to solve was quite difficult, so I struggled a lot in the beginning with model development. I had just come out of university, so I was thinking in theoretical frameworks and all the assumptions that must be met. When I looked at my data, it did not tick all the boxes that I would have liked. This limited me to just start exploring because I wanted to find the most suitable methodology. Rik recognized this pitfall and we just talked it through. Together we created better methods to arrive at the model. In the end it worked out totally fine, so it taught me a lot about how to start swimming quickly!
“I got the opportunity to struggle much, which may not sound productive, but on the long run it is”
How does Amsterdam Data Collective help you in your career development?
I think at Amsterdam Data Collective people want to take ownership of problems. When we encounter a problem, we do not only solve it, but also try to prevent it from happening again. I think that Amsterdam Data Collective has stimulated me to be very proactive and to not settle with the status quo, but to challenge what is possible at the client. Even as a starter I got a lot of freedom and responsibility. I also got the opportunity to struggle, which may not sound productive, but on the long run it is. Because it teaches you much and prevents you from making the same mistake again. We take several helpful and fun trainings a year provided by experts in their fields. Amsterdam Data Collective also has a specific focus on the Secure Base Framework, enabling us to grow personally.
Did you develop new skills at Amsterdam Data Collective?
I learned new techniques. For example, I gained experience with NLP in web applications, on how to develop a credit risk model. I also learned how to set up models in Python. On the soft skills side I learned how to ask the right things from my seniors and how to ensure that I can be most effective for the client. For example, to be very clear in communication and to be direct on what I need, but of course in a polite way. I have also learned to understand what kind of problems a client may have in its organisation; some things sound very easy but are very complex in practice. I learned how to help clarifying and solving these problems and to ensure a better cooperation.
“The client was very happy with our work, they even found it futuristic”
What is your proudest moment at Amsterdam Data Collective?
I think my proudest moment was with a Health project, because we were able to uncover great insights from the data that the client did not know yet. The client was very happy with the new knowledge and our work, they even found it futuristic. That gave a lot of energy and the project also extended.
How would you describe the Amsterdam Data Collective Culture?
I would say that we have a very strong and nurtured culture that strives to have everyone behave in an Amsterdam Data Collective way. This means that everybody is very willing to help, is very dedicated to achieving successes, and is willing to struggle but in a relaxed way. We are very open to all kinds of backgrounds and personalities. We treat each other in a very respectful way. The company gives us a lot of trust, we do not have a corporate culture in which we have to stay until the boss has left and that we must register all the minutes that we have been working. Amsterdam Data Collective trusts us to deliver good work. I think that is a very good approach to deal with your employees.
“Enjoy the hiring process!”
What advice do you have for prospective candidates?
I think we have a very meaningful hiring process. You can learn a lot from your application process regarding preparing your case. If you enjoy that process, it will definitely be a good indication that you would like the work here. And do not worry, the hiring process is fun and there is personal detail for you. Just enjoy the process!