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A day in the life of a data manager: Sarah Pyatt

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Sarah Pyatt is a GIS specialist at Mott MacDonald. She is currently working as a data and information manager for the environment and sustainability package of the Crossrail 2 project. From analysing and presenting data in new and interesting ways, to working with people all over the world - Sarah Pyatt tells us about the best and most challenging parts of her role.

Sarah Pyatt, GIS specialist, Mott MacDonald
Sarah Pyatt, GIS specialist, Mott MacDonald

How would you sum up what you do on a typical day?

I work closely with engineers and environmental specialists to determine what data they need in order to help answer specific questions and make decisions on a project. I then acquire, manage, analyse and present the data in a way that allows the user to get useful information.

What would you say is the best bit about your day?

Collecting lots of information and being able to turn it into something that people can use to make decisions. I also enjoy analysing and presenting data in new and interesting ways so that people can interact and engage with information.

And what is the biggest challenge?

Keeping track of all the tasks that come in and trying to prioritise which ones need to be done first. Data management is sometimes an afterthought on projects and therefore tidying up inconsistent datasets and consolidating information into a useable format can be quite time consuming.

What made you decide to become a data manager?

I have a background in geography and have always enjoyed understanding how people and their environment interact. This led me to use GIS (Geographic Information Systems) to examine spatial relationships between different layers of information.

What is it that you love about data management?

The variety of working on lots of different projects in a range of countries and being able to work with many different people. I have worked on projects in transport, water resources, environmental impacts, overhead lines and flood risk in the UK, Africa, Middle East and Europe.

What makes a good data manager in the environment industry?

I think a good data manager needs to be well organised, structured and good at quality control of data. The environment industry is such a varied, specialised and interesting industry that spatial analysis and good data management are an essential way of helping to understand it.

What advice do you have for people about to embark on a career in data management?

It is useful to get practical experience and learn good basic skills first in order to appreciate the wider processes and requirements. It is important to understand what the user’s needs are, and be able to provide information in a way that is useful to them.

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