Tess Merkulova

Lead Performance Analytics - Captify

How did you get into data and technology, and why?

My love for data came from my inability to sit still! I need to be constantly learning and figuring something out. As a kid, my favourite games were puzzles and jigsaws and data is the same thing. Problem-solving, data and maths were the things that I really loved.

What motivates you on a daily basis – what gets you up in the morning?

I love the creativity that comes from data and tech. Every single answer you can get to in a million different ways and every data scientist, analyst or data technician will find their own way to solve the same problem.

What’s the biggest challenge that you face in your role?

Because of my age, it’s sometimes a challenge to be taken seriously. Having an equal footing regardless of your age or gender is a challenge, but I’m not going to change that on my own.

How has a setback or obstacle shaped you?  

When you’re a young adult, you feel like you need to adjust what you say, how you think, and what you look like to fit in with the people around you. That makes you adjust your personality and it’s easy to get lost in the constant moulding of yourself. Once you accept who you are and you understand what your values and beliefs are, and what you’re not willing to compromise on, it’s easier.  

The data and tech world is made up of an incredible community, all driven by the desire to understand the world and make it accessible.
How do you gain confidence?  

I think a lot of people have imposter syndrome when they start out in their career. It’s easy to walk into a room and think that everyone else is so much better and more experienced than you. There will always be people who’ve done something for longer, or have done it better and we can learn from them, but it doesn’t undermine anything that you know.

What is the toughest lesson that you’ve had to learn?

It’s easy to get stuck in a loop of amending yourself for others until you’re back in that place where you’re trying to fit in. It’s better to try and focus on the positives and on what you’re good at, rather than flipping your personality 180 degrees.

 

What really excites you about data and tech?

The data and tech world is made up of an incredible community, all driven by the desire to understand the word and make it accessible. I love being part of that.

What advice would you give your teenage self?

You don’t need to be liked by every single person and that’s ok. You will find your group eventually and they’ll give you what you need.

Are role models important to you?

There are so many different role models and sources of inspiration out there depending on what stage you’re at in life. You don’t need to have just one role model, you can have many depending on their different qualities. I absolutely adore Reese Witherspoon and I adore the way she champions getting female voices heard.

Can you tell us about the significant object that you’ve chosen?

I’ve chosen a pair of muddy hiking boots because they summarise my journey, and to some extent, me. Life isn’t always pretty, you do need to get down and dirty and go through things you don’t particularly like. When you’re hiking you have to deal with all sorts of things, expected and unexpected, so you need something sturdy on the outside and comfy on the inside.  I have a tough and composed exterior but when I open up, I’m soft and cuddly. These boots are a good representation of that.