Verity Gill

Marketing Science Agency Lead for EMEA - Facebook

What is your role at work?

My day-to-day job involves measuring how effective advertising is for agencies and helping agencies understand how they can spend their money on advertising to get more efficiency and effectiveness out of every pound they spend with Facebook.

 

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

My love for data stemmed from my love for maths. I was always an all-rounder at school, but when I was about 15 or 16 years old, I started to really love maths in terms of the problem solving. I loved the challenge – it puzzled me and kept me up for hours. What’s great about data is that there’s never an answer,, there’s always more questions to ask and always another angle to look at. It never runs out so it can keep you really excited forever.

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

Well my kids get me out of bed in the morning, but other than that it’s the learning. You can always learn more. Sometimes you can get worried about whether you’re doing a good job, but actually you can just follow the fact that you want to learn more, asking ‘what can I learn today?’ and not be scared of not knowing everything.

How has a setback or obstacle shaped you?  

I’ve probably had no more, or no less, setbacks than anybody else. I think my generation of women probably haven’t even realised the huge setback we have. I think our generation need to get a bit angrier at how we’ve just accepted things. You are never going to get it all right but just being aware of everything and keeping an eye on it, that’s the best you can do.

I would encourage younger girls and boys to find something they absolutely love, not to limit themselves to the things that they’re already aware of.
Who inspires you?

I’ve been inspired by people from all walks of life as I was growing up – science programmes with people like Johnny Ball and Carol Vorderman, but then also people from the world of fashion. I found Cindy Crawford fascinating because she built an entire business based on her face and body. I’m really inspired by people who take things out of the every day, who don’t do it like everyone else, people who redefine things.

How do you lean on others to gain strength?

I think there is a real pressure on women – both working mothers and non-working mothers – to be an alpha female and to be brilliant at absolutely everything. I think it’s really important in the moments where you don’t feel you can do everything to just admit it, especially to your inner circle of friends. I think you have to keep a sense of humour too, no matter how serious the job and no matter how serious the situation seems.

Are role models important to you?

Having people like Sheryl Sandberg and Nicola Mendelsohn working in Facebook was one of the reasons I joined because these are women in technology who have made it work for them. They are unapologetic and have realised that these industries need a total diversity of skill sets. It actually needs people who drive others, who inspire people to work for them and with them, and women are very good at that. Women have high emotional intelligence so possess a real strength and understanding of those around them.  

What advice would you give to girls and young women interested in a career in data and technology?

I would encourage younger girls and boys to find something they absolutely love, but not to limit themselves to the things that they’re already aware of, and not to be scared of data. I see the fear in kids’ eyes as they think data is just about maths. Maths is a part of it but don’t be scared to look at a few numbers and spot a few patterns and realise that you can actually adapt that to anywhere in your career.

What advice would you give your teenage self?

I would tell her to stop worrying and caring what everyone thinks. You’re a good person, you’re doing things for the right reasons so just enjoy being who you are and don’t try and pretend to be someone else.

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

That if you fail, you will still turn it around and make it work. Failure is the start of a journey that will always end up with you being successful – whether that success is what you thought it looked like in the first place is not the point.

What achievements are you most proud of?

I did a Masters degree because I was really interested in digital anthropology and wanted to add a human element to my data and technology experience. The course was a lot of essay writing so I was out of my comfort zone. I thought I might pass but to get a distinction while looking after three kids too was a really proud moment.

How do you feel about your success?

Any success that I have had has come from me adapting to change. I have always thought change was something that added complication, but actually, I don’t wait for it to happen, I almost push for it before it happens. You will only be successful if you think ahead and think about what can possibly happen next and then adapt to that.

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

I have chosen a hand because it represents the human side of data and technology. It’s very easy to think of data and technology as robotics and with that we are going to get more distanced from people and behaviour, but actually I believe that the real value of data and tech is how we interact with it – how we build around it and how we make it relevant for us. It’s that human element that’s really exciting for me.