Data Stories: Leaders at Work is a bi-weekly podcast hosted by Rahul Jerome, founder of insight-intelligence.com and The Insight Network, co-organised by Audiense. The series captures personal anecdotes and career highlights from some of the most talented and brightest minds in the research and insights industry.
On this episode of the Data Stories: Leaders at Work podcast, I spoke with Hannah Marcus, associate director at Discover.ai. Hannah always had a passion for English and literature during school, so majoring in English Literature in university was a logical step in pursuing those interests. When she happened to meet a semiotician through a family friend who shared with her the concept of using cultural awareness and literary analysis to decipher and classify brands and ideas, she had an epiphany about how she could use her literary savvy to make an impact on the world.
She was fortunate enough to have an internship at this man’s agency at the age of 16 and gain a foundational knowledge of the science which provided a framework for her as she was completing her studies.
After she graduated from Cambridge, Hannah took a gap year to dabble in the world of work, take on freelancing opportunities, and travel to Germany. This time solidified her love for cultural analysis and using her humanities-centric analytical skills professionally.
While she was working at another agency, Hannah came across Discover.ai and realized that there were people out there who had already created the building blocks for the connection between semiotics and technology. She jumped on board with the small team and knew immediately that she had found her niche. Hannah and the team at Discover.ai use online sources to do quick-turnaround cultural analysis studies on topics ranging from health to cultural immersion using their unique platform.
Throughout her career, Hannah has benefitted from the mentorship of several other people in the data analysis and insights space as well as people she has met through Bloom Network. Kerry Harrison in particular has been a great source of encouragement and collaboration with Hannah, as evidenced by their podcast together, Machine Unlearning. Kerry and Hannah both have an appreciation for technology, though neither of them do any coding, and they realised that this could be, in part, due to the underrepresentation of women in the fields of science, engineering, technology, and math (STEM).
If more women were encouraged to pursue education and careers in STEM, this knowledge and awareness gap could be narrowed and those fields would benefit from the increased diversity in perspectives. By teaching young girls that they are capable of becoming prolific in STEM careers and spotlighting the innovative ideas that female scientists, engineers, coders, statisticians, mathematicians, and technology industry giants have contributed, their career thoughts suddenly become broader and they are given the opportunity to find their perfect fit like Hannah and Kerry have.
To that end, Hannah has become involved with a couple of exciting initiatives: Women’s Health Tech Hive and Mend. The Tech Hive is essentially a place where thought leaders and technical professionals come together to discuss ways that improved technology and increased communication can help find solutions to women’s health issues. Hannah gives the example that while the symptoms of heart attacks for men and women are quite different, the symptoms that most people are aware of are only the symptoms for heart attacks in men. Mend is an organization that is tackling toxic masculinity, using data and insights to do so.
Through these organisations and her own enterprise, Hannah loves to network with other people who share her passions and might complement her skill set. She has also started to gain notoriety in the space, being seen as a thought leader and beginning to do speaking engagements. Some of the best advice she has received when it comes to personal branding is to make yourself stand out by having a website where people can find out more about you and by maintaining an active LinkedIn page.
Hannah is a high achiever by nature, so she has found it very important to balance her drive for achievement with the rest that she needs for her mental health. But she is still spinning more plates at once than a lot of her peers, and she will continue to do so!
The full version of the podcast with Hannah Marcus can be listened here: