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Meet Tarö Kili, Manager in the Data and Digital Labs team

By Social Finance
Published 29 July 2021

What do you do at Social Finance?

I manage projects in the Data and Digital Labs team, so I help design and build digital solutions from scratch, launch them and then improve them. You need to be pretty agile working in so many areas, so it’s different to normal project management. A lot of my role involves talking to the team, facilitating workshops and getting people’s views and opinions on various subjects.

What attracted you to working for Social Finance?

Before my job here, I was doing a Masters in philosophy, which was quite different! But I was really interested in helping pu­­­­blic sector organisations focus on the impact their work was having. Studying philosophy was actually really useful; being able to think about big, complex issues, break them down, then take a step back and analyse them. So much of my job now is about doing just that.

My role is about being able to approach a problem and think how to translate it into something our data scientists and developers can solve.

For example, we recently ran a project getting people with mental health issues back into work. We looked at what matters to service providers, what matters to people trying to find work, what services they want and need, lifestyle data, different environments and employment as a mental health outcome. We spoke to the NHS, local government, the Department of Work and Pensions, clients, and people themselves. Figuring out the most important data to collect, then how to capture it from all the different organisations involved, present it, and share it so that it can support decision-making was fascinating.

Did you have any previous data and digital experience?

I’m not that techie — I don’t know how to code. But I love to work with people who can do that side of things. My role isn’t about number crunching; it’s more about being able to look at a problem and think ‘How do we approach it?’ and how to translate a problem into something our data scientists and developers can solve. And there’s always more than one way of looking at a problem.

Is working in a team a key part of your job?

It’s the best part of my job! Social Finance relies on collaboration, both internally and with our clients. Being part of a team means you’re not working on your own with a massive to-do list, wondering how to get stuff done. In my team I have people who can do the technical, data-based side of things much better than I ever could, so it’s great to rely on them.

The only downside is that working across so many different projects with different teams means my day is really fast paced. You want each project to do really well, so you need to be able to trust your team.

Where will data have the biggest social impact in the next few years?

There are so many areas, but I think social care is where things are really happening. Personalised care, supported by technology, is going to be particularly important, especially after the pandemic. People are going to want to see social care delivered more individually but with more accountability.

I’m really interested in mental health projects. We know the pandemic is going to have a huge impact on young people’s mental health, but we don’t yet know to what extent. By using existing data, we can find out what works for young people and how the social system can support them. Good data can help good decision making but mental health modelling still has a long way to go before we get to that level.

What do you wish you had known when you started your job?

There’s this idea that data is a really male-dominated area, or that everyone comes from a science and maths background, but it’s not true. You can bring a lot to the table if you are someone ‘artsy’, like me. Being able to design, build and run a model is far more creative than people realise. And remember to take breaks!

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