Leanne Allen is a Director in KPMG’s FS Tech Consulting Practice and leads KPMG’s Data capability driving 100% growth over two years with an impressive gender diverse team of 60% female.
Leanne Allen
Leanne Allen

She is an experienced data architect with broad experience across data management, data & systems architecture, data visualisation, reporting & analytics and data migration. She helps clients navigate complex issues through streamlining architectures, designing and embedding robust data governance and management frameworks, and drives data strategies to realise the value of data assets.

Leanne is passionate about driving a diverse culture in technology and in particular supports working mothers in tech founding the Superwoman network at KPMG with over 100 women in the network.

She has been nominated for the 2019 Tech Star Award.

How does it feel to be shortlisted for the WIBF Tech Star Award?

It’s certainly a privilege to have been nominated and short listed for the prestigious WIBF Tech Star Award. My passion to drive the data agenda across the FS industry has not waivered since my decision to move into the Business Intelligence field 15 years ago. The 4th industrial revolution is an incredibly exciting time to be working in data. My purpose is the same- help shrink the data liability and enable data as an asset- yet the technology advances and ability to source, store and analyse big data means, quite simply, that data is everywhere and increasing at an accelerated rate. The industry now needs to come together and collaborate moving towards an interconnected and frictionless society with a focus on the convergence of principles and approaches on the ethical use of customer data. This nomination puts a valuable spot light on the importance of data in Financial Services.

Can you share your career journey that lead you to your current role? What achievement are you most proud of in this role?

Following my PhD in mathematics, my passion for problem solving led me towards industry. Having secured my first role at Enron in their commodity trading research department, I was promptly re-considering what career to embark on as Enron crashed. Making financial sense of the future – the strap line of an actuary- excited me, so I spent 2.5 years deep in data as an actuarial trainee. The importance of data was clear: poor data results in inaccurate valuations! This sparked my desire to help organisations succeed through more accurate use of data. I joined a large SI firm into a Business Intelligence (BI) team spending five years designing and building data warehouse and MI solutions across markets. My move to KPMG was driven by an exciting opportunity to build a new BI practice. Fast forwarding through ten years at KPMG, two daughters and an 18 month secondment as People Leader for our 250 banking technology team, I lead the FS tech consulting data capability. I am incredibly proud of the growth and achievements of my 60% gender diverse team and the recent release of my co-authored paper with UK Finance on the “Ethical use of Customer Data in a Digital Economy”.

You are a role model yourself, but who are your role models both within Tech and outside?

My role models surround me. They are the people who inspire me; those that keep me grounded and those whom I am incredibly proud. My role models are my peers and partner leadership team. They are my Client’s including like-minded females in C-suite positions leading and driving the data agenda’s in their organisations; they are the men and women who have focused on their purpose and succeeded through challenging times building incredible tech driven organisations. They are my friends and colleagues who have taken bold and brave steps to change the direction of their careers to focus on their passions. They are the people that have shown incredible resilience and have bounced back fast from setbacks; and they are my family and friends that have collectively taught and helped me throughout my life to keep steadfast and focused during personal life challenges.

My role models have collectively inspired me and shaped who I am today and will continue to do so through direct or often indirect mentoring, coaching and guidance in my career and life.

What advice would you give to a young person starting out on their career in FinTech?

Firstly, your career is a journey, set goals but be flexible and open to shift and change direction. Do not be deterred by setbacks– spot and seize opportunities that present themselves and always look for the learning that your current job and role can provide across technology , interpersonal, relationship and self-development.

Secondly, know yourself – define and understand your personal brand. Take time to look inwards and understanding who you are: your abilities, values, purpose, personal style and presence. Identify your strengths, your unique selling points and have the courage to believe in yourself. Doing this will drive a strong personal brand allowing you to be memorable, passionate and authentic and above all, happy in whatever path you take.

Thirdly, for women starting out, thriving in a male dominated sector does have its challenges: women tend not to be as good at speaking up, self-promotion or asking for more. My advice to you is to be bold and ask for what you want then seek mentoring, coaching and sponsorship to achieve it.

When was a time you were out of your comfort zone and how did it ultimately help you?

I always strive to stretch myself out of my comfort zone. I thrive off the new: new problems to solve; new data and technology techniques and systems; changing or a new regulation to name a few. My lesson for successfully operating outside my comfort zone was to not strive to be the hero (heroine). It is invaluable to grow, know and use your network. Surrounding myself with great people and bringing the best of my team and extended network to the table based on the needs and challenges presented has delivered success and value for my Clients. My strong network has helped drive my own continuous development both personally and professionally.

In addition, setting personal boundaries is a continual learning for me. Throughout my career, my passion and drive has often seen me pushing myself to regular excessive hours and at times close to the point of burn-out. Post maternity, I returned to work and focussed obsessively on time management – squeezing as much as possible into the hours of each day. However, over the last 6 months, I am shifting my focus away from time management and to “energy management” to achieve more!

Tell us something about yourself you think people would find surprising?

My childhood career ambitions ranged from wanting to be an astronaut to an architect, a graphic designer to a formula1 car designer. I was torn between studying mathematics and art at University to the point of applying to courses in both. I finally chose mathematics on the rationale that art would always remain a hobby (my preferred medium being oil painting).

Throughout my career I have designed universes, built data foundations, flowed data through technology solutions and continue to drive the data agenda. Therefore, in a way, I’m covering all my childhood ambitions!