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Life As A New Starter At uMotif

We continue our 'uWrite' employee interview series with a look into what it's like to join uMotif and how working in health-tech is different to other industries.

Our fourth interview is with James Allen, Head of Data Reporting. James is responsible for providing immediate insight to uMotif customers for their projects. Previously he was a data scientist at a consultancy, and before that he had his sights on the stars somewhat as an astrophysicist in both Cambridge and Sydney.

How was your first day at uMotif?

Good. Before joining I was lucky to be invited to company socials and even attended the Christmas party! On top of meeting people throughout the interview process this meant I knew many of the friendly faces already. I immediately felt a warm welcome by the team and my role was well defined.

I joined on a Monday so attended my first Monday Morning Meeting (MMM). This is when the whole company takes time out to share status updates and work through challenges anyone is possibly facing. It showed me the breadth of uMotif's operations. To be honest, I didn't really understand everything that was said – this is a new industry for me with new terminology to learn – but I got an idea of what was important to each department. It also strongly demonstrates the core focus of the company is patients and research participants.

On the technology side, my computer was up and running including all user accounts - which surprised me. My manager welcomed me and introduced me to the wider team. I appreciate that it was clear to me how things were going to work right from the start.

How is working at uMotif different to your expectations?

Well, I'm not sure it is too different! One point is that I hadn't encountered this level of compliance before, but this is to be expected in a regulated industry. At uMotif we need to be much more rigorous and detailed in our processes than in previous organisations I have worked. It's easy to understand why this is important and I'm excited by the challenge to put this into actual practice.

I knew uMotif was a patient-centric organisation, but before joining I didn't fully understand what this meant. It was a term I had heard before, but it felt like jargon. It was only when I understood the history of the company that the concept crystallised for me. The key point is that our roots stem from delivering benefit to individual patients – and this remains our goal.

I now appreciate the difference between uMotif and similar companies in the industry – and how we keep the patient at the forefront of everything we do. It keeps me motivated and I feel that my role has a positive social impact and delivers value to science.

When working on the data we collect and how best to report it I find it easier to tackle the challenges that arise when I keep in mind what a patient was potentially thinking and feeling when they entered their data. It's a motivating factor for me that a patient provided this data as a gift. They have every right to expect that we treat their contribution with respect and ensure best use is made of it. I'm enjoying taking on this challenge.

What are key differences to your previous role?

The work I'm doing is different. Previously, as a data scientist, I was more involved in performing analysis myself, which included coming up with new techniques and generating discrete insights for presentation to clients. Our customers relied on us for insight not the underlying data architecture.

Here, my role is focussed on providing access and visibility into the data collected during a trial in a compliant way. This enables more teams, groups, and partners to perform the analysis rather than me.

There's a greater diversity of backgrounds at uMotif than a data science consultancy. This is because it requires a broader mix of skills across the company to be successful. It's a different task to deliver compliant enterprise software to some of the world's largest companies in multiple geographies than to deliver a single, albeit complex, spot analysis.

Because of this I feel greater ownership of my work. I have sole responsibility for an area and if that area is not performing optimally, it's on me. It also means that when we deliver value to customers I am immensely proud of my contribution and that of the wider team.

Are you enjoying your new job?

Yes. I feel like I am adding more value than I did in my previous role. Another difference for me is scalability. As a consultant each project helps a specific client navigate a specific problem. Obviously, you can improve and streamline your work and do this faster providing more insights, but you are always advancing one client at a time.

At uMotif, when I make one improvement this immediately supports each of our customers and all the research they are performing. As uMotif grows the impact of every improvement grows with it, which means I feel I am contributing much more to scientific endeavour. Knowing that ultimately I'm helping improve the lives of patients, both those in our studies and those who will benefit from the scientific results in the future, makes the work incredibly rewarding.