From accounting to global mobility, cybersecurity, entrepreneurship and now data engineering, Alexandra Waterhouse has a varied two-decade career that has provided her endless opportunities to navigate the intricate landscapes of business and strategy on a global scale.
Motivated by changes in the environment and a consideration for the future, she took on her bravest professional move to-date when she defied conventional expectations and started learning programming in her 40s.
Now, as a DataLabs Engagement Lead on our Riyadh team and winner of Publicis Sapient’s ASPIRE Hackathon in 2023 with a GenAI solution to enhance our capabilities, Alexandra reflects on the qualities that have helped her succeed in all of these roles, and successfully transition into a new field.
A growth mindset: “When I decided to change career paths, I knew there would be a knowledge gap – and while that made it challenging, it also made it exciting. A large part of the learning process was on the job, and I was coming into the field at an older age than my colleagues. While this could have been an uncomfortable environment, working with and learning from younger generations was a very cool experience. Growth happens when you accept what you don’t know and find ways to learn it.”
Confidence in my experience: “While I was learning programming and AI, I was also coming into the field with two decades of business and strategy experience. I have a lot of applicable skills beyond the technical ones. For example, I am good at leading projects with a 360 view. I can guide a team. Knowing and having confidence in what I bring to the table made me stand out and eventually led me to interesting opportunities in my new role.”
Cultural adaptability: “My Eastern European background, coupled with my experiences in London and the Middle East have equipped me with a unique perspective. I’m able to easily adapt to ways of work and colleagues’ experiences and face challenges from a global lens. If you’re ever given the opportunity to explore a new part of the world or culture through work, take it.”
A supportive environment: “I’m not the classic embodiment of an engineer. Not only in regard to my professional background but there is a gender gap in the field, which then makes its way into technology. There is a critical need for more women to be part of creating solutions that serve everyone so that we can avoid biases in algorithms and ensure inclusivity. It can be scary to stick out in your field, but with the right support and collaborative environment, you can create a path forward for more people to break barriers.”