Stephanie Wernham is an Operations Analyst in HR at Dechra. Just six months into her 14-month Level 3 Data Professional Diploma, and only seven months into her role, she is already establishing herself as a trusted voice on data-driven decision making.
What attracted you to the programme?
I joined Dechra seven months ago, and during the interview process we discussed how the role would involve looking at reports and extrapolating data. The Head of HR was already aware of this Level 3 apprenticeship opportunity and asked me if I would potentially be interested in joining such a programme. It certainly gave a positive impression to still be at interview stage and for them to be talking about investing in my development in this way!
Why is data literacy relevant to your HR role?
I support HRBPs with administrative tasks and coordination around HR, such as drafting new contracts and forms, and liaising with employees around engagement. The other side of my role is more analytical. On a regular basis I need to develop reports for the Senior Leadership Teams whether it’s an organisation report or KPI reports. I give them information pulling from stats that have come from our databases. I’ve only ever used Advanced Excel and yet now, just seven months into the programme, I’m using my new skills to deliver my KPI results in a more compelling way – the data quality is better and it’s so much easier for people to read and understand.
Which tools are you already using, and what impact is that having?
I’m using Power Query, which I’d never heard of before this course! This course has opened up my world to using different databases to do my job, rather than just sticking to Excel. Next, I plan to make better use of Power BI with its dashboard and charts capability.
I’ve become much more confident using pivot charts – for example, I pulled together the number of new starters in a particular location or department. I have shown the key stakeholders the trend so they can see where our recruitment is heading in the next five years, and they can forecast effectively.
I’m now much more conscious about the steps I need to take in order to make sure the data I produce and present is high quality and fit for purpose. Whereas I previously would have just got on with it and presented the data without giving it too much thought, I am now taking a more measured, thoughtful approach to ensuring data quality. I now approach it like a project rather than a task. It has a start, middle and end. I think about who will be looking at it, and why. I really understand my data and take full ownership of it. This means that when stakeholders question me about the reports and my findings, I’m able to confidently explain. That has a significant impact on how you feel about the work you are doing.
Has the course affected how others see you?
Yes, and I have to say it feels good to hear your line manager say, “Steph’s good at that” and then have people sent my way for advice and guidance on how to get the most from our data. It’s great that she has confidence in me so early in the course, and so soon in my role at Dechra. I’m enjoying the course and it really spurs me on when I’m asked to build something for someone because they’ve liked what I’ve worked on elsewhere. It gives me a real sense of happiness to know that other people can see the benefit for themselves of what I can deliver – and this is only half-way through!
Are you able to help others in the organisation become more confident in working with data?
Yes, and I plan to develop my role into helping other sites that don’t currently use data as much. To be able to give them a dashboard to see their absences, new starters, employee engagement and performance issues that can be raised through KPI reporting would be hugely valuable. I will be spending time with them to help them get a better understanding of data and why it’s so important to be using the systems properly so we can then get more data out of them. Being on the course means I am now able and confident enough to educate others in this way.
What would you say to others considering the programme?
Go for it! I had never thought of data as a desired role. I never thought I was good at it – I just thought everyone can do Excel. But this is about so much more than Advanced Excel and there is so much to learn that can make a huge difference to your day-to-day role and the credibility you build. It’s a really good course. The programme is set out exceptionally well with recorded workshops that you can listen back to, making sure you fully understand and are able to implement your learning. It’s suitable for anyone who is fairly new to data and caters for those who are just using Excel or have no understanding of Power Query of Power BI. It merges all that together and gives you a clean flow of how to use data in a better and more quality-driven way.