Lauren Sager Weinstein

Chief Data Officer, Transport for London

What does your job entail?

My job is taking data from all the systems that we have on the network – this could be ticketing information from people travelling on the tube or the bus, plus location data where our vehicles are and sensor data on the roads – and looking for patterns so we can give information back to our customers and plan our services.

How did you get where you are today?

I grew up in the States, in Washington DC, and I was always interested in government and cities and public service. I ended up working for the city of Los Angeles for a while and I was very interested in transport and how that allows people to get from one place to another and how it helps cities grow and move and adapt. Then I had the opportunity to come work in London and it was an amazing chance to come and shape a city.

What gives you confidence?

A lot of building up confidence comes down to practice. Practicing speaking, practicing what I’m doing and knowing that the more you practice and try hard at something, the more grit you have, you’ll get better.

What’s the best advice you’ve been given?

I think the best advice I’ve been given is to work hard, try things and be brave. So be courageous, have the confidence to move forward and to do something that you care passionately about, do good, be a good person but be brave.

So be courageous, have the confidence to move forward and to do something that you care passionately about.
What significant object have you chosen?

My significant object is an Oyster card. The reason that I’ve chosen this is because this was really the start of our data exploration. Back in 2005, Oyster was new, and we started to think about ways that we could use the data to understand travel patterns. Then we got more and more advanced in our analysis and it’s been amazing to see how we’ve taken this initial data, clever thinking and algorithms and have built new tools and services to help run the transport network based on just this initial Oyster card. It’s really beautiful when you think about it.

What have been the highlights of your career so far?

I’ve been so proud in the work that I’ve done in building up our data and a couple of times it’s been at a point where I’ve been able to say ‘Wow, look at what we’ve done’. One of those times was during the Olympics; we were able to help London move during a really exciting time.
The second proud moment was working on the introduction of contactless payment cards in London. That was amazing – to be there on the day that we launched, to see the system working and to see the customer benefit. To overhear people talking about it and think ‘Hey! I was involved! I helped do this!’ That’s one of the things I really love – when you’ve done something that has customer benefit and helps the city. That’s really what drives me to do the work that I do.