How to become a data and compliance manager: Catherine's story

Meet Catherine, 23, from Reading, a data and compliance manager for British Airways in London. Part of our Bitesize world of work series.

"When you’re younger you only know about the obvious job choices, so I didn’t know this job existed and I didn’t know I’d love it."

What is your job?

My job is to make sure that our team complies with all the ESFA (Education and Skills Funding Agency) regulations when we deliver apprenticeships and that we use our government funding as best as we can.

What do you do day-to-day?

Most of my job is about tracking and analysing data. I also forecast for the business, seeing how much people might spend within the next five years, so I work closely with people in the finance team.

What skills do you use in your work?

IT and analytical skills come into it a lot. I also use communication skills - because my job is so niche, I need to make sure other people understand why it’s important we comply with regulations. There’s a huge amount of time management in my role - we have hard deadlines, especially when we send data to the government. Also, being flexible - as a business we have to move with the times, so sometimes we need to change our plans.

What did you study in school?

At GCSE I chose Triple Science, Textiles, History and French, and at A-level I did History, Maths, English Literature and Textiles. I got my results, and I could have gone to university if I had wanted to, but I didn’t apply. I knew it wasn’t for me.

What subjects do you draw on from school?

I did A-level Maths, and that’s come in really helpful with looking at data and numbers. I didn’t think English Literature would be helpful, but it is because I have to write formal documents all the time and I have to make sure my emails are professional.

How did you get into your job?

I joined the British Airways Head Office Apprenticeship Scheme. A year after finishing my own apprenticeship, I was working in procurement and I become involved with the apprenticeship team through the National Apprenticeship Awards. They approached me and asked me to apply for a vacancy, and through that process I realised how passionate I was about apprenticeships.

Was it a smooth ride?

The toughest thing was that nearly everyone in my year went to university, and I had to convince everyone that it was a good idea for me to do an apprenticeship, but it was always worth it.

Catherine in a meeting.
Catherine in a meeting.

Top tips

  • Make sure that you’re open to all the options available to you

  • Anything you can do outside of school to prove you’re proactive will really help.

What to expect if you want to be a data analyst

Data analysis forms a large part of Catherine's role as a data and compliance manager. Data analysts identify trends, create models, collect numerical information and present results. Here's what you can expect if you're interested in pursuing the data analysis aspect of Catherine's job.

  • Data analyst salary: £23,000 to £70,000 per year
  • Data analyst working hours: 37 to 39 hours per week
  • Typical entry requirements: You'll usually need a degree or postgraduate award in Statistics, Maths, or Economics. There are other subjects that can include statistics as part of the course, for example Social Science or Geography, but you will have to check the course structures. Some university courses offer an industrial placement or sandwich year, which allows you to work in industry or commerce as part of your studies. This could be useful when you look for jobs after you finish your course.

This information is a guide (sources: LMI for All, National Careers Service)

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