Angie Livingstone

Data Scientist, Google

What does your job involve?

Google’s mission is to organise the world’s information. My mission would be to analyse it, segment it and do something meaningful with it.

What drives you?

I want to be an expert in all things. I want experience. Experience for me is what gives me empathy and empathy enables me to understand where you’re coming from and therefore propose a better solution.

What’s the greatest lesson you’ve learned?

I think the toughest lesson is that you go through life with people trying to tell you how to be. There’s a lot of people giving you a lot of advice and you’re the only person who’s got to judge you from the beginning of your life to the end of your life, so why are you listening to all these people?

Where do you find your confidence?

My confidence comes first from facing my fears. The second would be from my dad who is a really confident guy and gave me self-belief, which is probably over and above confidence – it’s not arrogance but it’s that true understanding in you. Self-belief rather than confidence.

There’s a lot of people giving you a lot of advice and you’re the only person who’s got to judge you from the beginning of your life to the end of your life
What significant object have you chosen?

Two and a half years ago Angie was diagnosed with Leukaemia and spent a year in hospital trying to beat it. Those experiences have given her a new perspective on life and death.

The object I’ve chosen is a tree in my garden. It’s a Spanish chestnut tree that is Roman and may be one of the oldest trees in the UK. It signifies to me that even when you think death is nigh there’s resurgence. I’m still here. Sometimes I feel that strong. I’m probably one of the strongest women you’ll ever meet.
I’m still here. I’m happy to talk about it – it’s extremely important. Some people say, especially Chinese and Japanese sayings, if you don’t understand death then you can’t understand life. Well, I understand it. It’s amazing to have got through the other side. Once the worst thing in life has happened to you, what have you got to fear? Nothing. So the tree signifies that things do keep growing and it’s strong. It’s been there a thousand years.

What would surprise people about data science?

Creativity. Everyone thinks that we’re the dull, boring geeks, but we’re not actually. We’re very creative and we’re solving problems every day. When something happens with any organisation it’s the data scientists who pick it up. Why? Because we’re creative.