I am Penelope Quah. Everyone calls me Penny and when anyone asks me about what I do, I tell them I am a mum, first and foremost, to a wonderful 10-year-old girl and I try to encourage her to be her best at whatever she is interested in (such as netball, ballet, art, maths, and drama). If you ask my daughter what I do, she will tell you that I stare at the multiple screens in my home office and speak all day to my teams on data, data, data. On a more serious note, in essence, I help insurers drive value out of their data to derive quicker and more accurate decisions so that they can continue to thrive in an industry that is facing a lot of macro-economic headwinds and disruption.
My career to date has not been straight forward. I studied Marketing and Economics for my first degree and found a love of doing research with both qualitative and quantitative methods which led me to reading a doctorate degree in national and corporate cultural differences and how these impacted the integration of post-acquisition management. Following the completion of my PhD, I was offered an exciting expatriate opportunity in Shanghai. Being in my twenties, and with Shanghai booming in the early 2000s, I moved from Scotland to Shanghai to experience the life of working in a fast-growing country and an exciting city. This experience taught me so much about managing c-suite stakeholders as I was working very closely with the Head of Asia Pacific on all his presentations and board meetings.
Soon after this stint, I returned to London to work for an American automotive forecasting firm. I climbed the ladder from an automotive forecasting analyst to a manager of financial services, but I’ve always had an interest to move into management consulting. So, when a Big 4 opportunity came knocking on the door, I took a step down in my title to join as an assistant manager. I promptly learnt the ropes of business intelligence, beginning as a business/data analyst, ETL (data engineering) analyst and was very quickly promoted to manager and senior manager positions. I also started to specialize in data strategy and data management/governance as I worked across Solvency II, BCBS 239, IFRS9, IFRS17 projects across insurance and banking clients.
As the first lockdown began in 2020, I moved back into the industry to head up product development team in the London market, but very quickly realized I missed the excitement and variety of consulting. So, I started to look for opportunities, but this time with a smaller consulting outfit with more room for personal growth and progression. This is what I’ve found at Capco. When I joined in January 2021, I was given the challenge to land a new client and see how we could expand our footprint with them. From a small POC of a team of four including myself, the account has now grown into a multiple engagement account across the client’s UK business units. This would not have been possible without the unique advantage of the great Capco colleagues who are keen to deliver the best quality outputs for clients as well as continuing to learn. This is made easy with Capco’s culture which encourages all of us to be ourselves at work. The corporate structure is very flat, everyone is encouraged to listen, speak up and challenge each other in a respectful manner.
In addition, I have the flexibility to juggle a demanding consulting career, where I need to deliver across multiple engagements and sell more work, with raising my daughter. I organize my day around the school runs, netball fixtures and ballet rehearsals. Yes, my days become longer as a result, but I really love being able to do both roles – a full-time mummy and a full-time senior data leader in a global consulting firm. I really look forward to continuing to grow my consulting career and ideally focus on how we continue to put customer at the heart of business strategy, which, together with robust and superior data, takes precedence in the financial services industry.