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News > Alumni News > In Conversation with...Gillian Rawson-Harris

In Conversation with...Gillian Rawson-Harris

Gillian attended Lady Barn from 1992-2000. She has since moved across the world to Australia and pursued a career in Data Science. Read her story here...
31 Aug 2021
Alumni News
Gillian Rawson-Harris
Gillian Rawson-Harris

Gillian Rawson-Harris, Class of 2000

What years did you attend Lady Barn?

From 1992-2000: Nursery-Year 6

What path did you take after leaving LBHS?

I went to Withington Girls School (WGS) after finishing at Lady Barn. I finished my A-Levels at WGS then went and studied Maths at The University of Nottingham. It was while I was at university that I went on a study abroad program with The University of Melbourne. I loved Melbourne so after my study abroad finished up, I moved back to the UK, finished my Maths degree and moved back to Melbourne. I’ve been in Melbourne for the last 11 years, working in Data Science.

What were your school days at Lady Barn like, what are your fond memories of the school?

I have really fond memories of Lady Barn. It was a lovely school and definitely set me up for success. I loved the camps and the French trip - they were amazing experiences. It was just a great school to grow up in and gave me the strong foundation of learning how to learn and think through problems.

Are there any teachers who made lasting impressions or any friends you may still be in contact with?

Miss Dorian was my Year 6 teacher - she was fantastic and really encouraged me to do my best. I also remember she loved to eat bananas!

Mr Ward and Mr Bonner kept us all in line!

Mr Atkins was a great sports teacher - I really appreciated the way he supported and encouraged girls in sport.

There are so many more - all the teaching staff I came across in my time at Lady Barn were fantastic and their skills are what make the school the success it is.

What led you to choose your career path, did you come across difficulties?

I was relatively good at and enjoyed maths which is why I decided to study it at university. Programming came a little later…In my first working role I was asked to do something that was quite manual and would take me about 4 weeks to complete. So I decided to write some code to automate it. It took me a week to write the code and an hour to complete the work. And that was where my love of coding and data started. I think Lady Barn can be credited for encouraging me to think outside the box, to challenge appropriately and to try something different. 

All careers face challenges and difficulties but  I’ve found that perseverance and determination have been a good way to see out the hard times. That, and making sure you have fun along the way! That way, you can still find the joy in the job even during the tougher times.

What do you enjoy most about your career? 

I love being faced with a business problem and knowing that data and insight can help us to solve it. Often though, I won't know exactly how! And there is something exciting and stimulating about having to solve a problem from scratch!

I also love leading a team, coaching my direct reports and seeing them succeed in their careers. It’s the hardest and most rewarding part of my role.

Do you have any advice for those who may follow a similar career path, especially girls wanting to join the tech world or perhaps those wanting to move/study abroad?

I still remember my first foray into coding (drawing shapes using code, up in the computer room at Lady Barn with Mr Prendergast). 

Nowadays coding is an absolute must learn for all children. There are so many learning options available to choose from as well which is great. So for anyone interested in a career in technology or data, start coding now! Try it out and don’t be afraid of it. Once you know one language, you can learn another pretty easily. 

Girls, you should definitely consider a career in data. I currently have a team of 40 data professionals with 50% women - data and banking is no longer a male-dominated profession. Some of the best analysts I’ve come across in my career have been women.

Study abroad is another great experience and one I would highly recommend - it totally changed my life in more ways than one! Getting good grades at uni meant I was selected for this opportunity - so I guess it again comes down to hard work and dedication - I knew I wanted to study abroad so I made sure I got the grades to be able to go!

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