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START UP: Interview with Tamanna Haque – Getting into Data Science

In the Start Up series, we interview influential figures of Data Science to discover how they first broke into the industry. Today we’re chatting to Tamanna Haque, Lead Scientist at Jaguar Land Rover. Tamanna explains how her education at the University of Manchester, her experience in Finance and her lifelong passion for luxury cars helped her land her dream role.

Tamanna offers some great advice on how to get started in the field of data science. She discusses the challenges she’s faced on her journey, and the important work she’s now doing to improve diversity in the AI and the Automotive industries.


How did you start working in Data Science?

I completed a Maths degree at The University of Manchester, where I specialised in statistics. I didn’t do any post-graduate education and this was fine for me, I’ve always worked in fast-paced, commercial environments driven by value and delivery.

After graduating, I joined a digital fashion retailer (with a Financial Services proposition) as an Analyst initially. I learned a lot about real-life data and analytics itself, whilst developing a rounded understanding about the business and how to deal with stakeholders cross-functionally.

A great way for me to set solid foundations for what followed, and I personally feel this gives me a lens that others who dive straight into Data Science don’t have.

I was soon attracted to Data Science because it tapped into what I learned at university and challenges you to keep learning; there’ll always be new advances in the field and things to learn. I gave up personal time when transitioning from data analytics towards Data Science.

Were there any roadblocks on your path into Data Science?

There were definitely some challenges. I had a few people tell me I couldn’t do Data Science or specifically the role at Jaguar Land Rover. I’m not sure if this was because it was happening quickly, or because I didn’t fit the typical Data Scientist stereotype in several ways. This can instil self-doubt, which is why having and nurturing your wider network matters; I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the people around me.


How, when, and why did you start to follow the company?

I’ve been a fan of Jaguar since I was nine. I grew up with Top Gear and Formula 1, but it was Jaguar which really piqued my interest. At the time it was the Jaguar XJ, XK, S-TYPE and X-TYPE which turned my head, all attractive and luxurious cars with sporting pedigree; qualities which made Jaguar an aspirational brand to me. Since then, I’ve ended up writing about the brand, attending previews of upcoming launches, and attending invitation-only experience days. I was a fan-turnedcustomer at 22 (very much in love with my Jaguar XF!) and I ultimately became an employee at 25. So, within my role at Jaguar Land Rover, I feel connected and personally committed when developing our products and customer experiences. Anyone who knows me associates me with Jaguar and that’s a lovely feeling.


Give us an overview of your current role?

I’ve been working at Jaguar Land Rover since 2019, as a Lead Data Scientist working within Product Engineering, specifically in the connected vehicle space.

My role involves using the connected car and AI to make our products and customer experiences better, whilst leading within our wide Data Science team too. The Data Science team in Manchester, UK, started with myself and one of my teammates – it’s since grown to nearly forty (cross-sites and countries) and developed into a high-performing, advanced Data Science team.

What makes us stand out is the nature of our workwe mostly use vehicle data (of participating customers), which is different to a lot of other commercial businesses or teams who’ll focus more on transactional or web data. The data we use lends itself to some pretty interesting projects, and a general futuristic feel here.

I’m particularly interested and active in enabling a more electric and modern luxury future from the use of vehicle data.

How did you land your current role?

I started here as a Senior Data Scientist in 2019, in a brand-new role and team. This move presented a lot of change, moving from retail into automotive, from an established company to a tech-hub with a start-up feel, going through a general culture change and having a big step up in my career.

My interest in the Jaguar brand and corporate awareness made the interview easier because I didn’t have to ‘revise’ on these areas. In the hiring seat (which I’m now in) it’s also easy to know when someone genuinely has an interest in your business. Being able to demonstrate passion helps – you’re already aligning with some of the company values.

If you have an appetite to develop, joining a brandnew team can be great. Not only are there lots of opportunities, but there’s room to create many more and propel your development, which I did. I’m grateful to be working at a place where hard work and commitment is recognised and rewarded; last year I was promoted to Lead Data Scientist.

“Anyone who knows me associates me with Jaguar and that’s a lovely feeling.”

Looking back, I can see that this was a great career move for me, coming into a newly conceived Data Science team for a company which influences me. It satisfies both sides of my brain, ‘left brain logic’ and ‘right brain desire’. I read this phrase in an old Jaguar advert!

How does your passion for Jaguar Land Rover’s brands and cars improve your ability to perform in your role?

I have ever-growing commercial awareness and passion about our products, customers and business. These aren’t new qualities, but they now align with my professional interests, as well as personal. I’m always thinking about new ways I can add value to the business through the use of Data Science, keeping up with our competitors and trends in AI to support me. I can be sat in my car, visiting a dealership or at home with my customer app, appreciating the modern and luxurious experience in front of me whilst challenging myself to think of ways to improve it.

Day-to-day, this wider understanding complements my technical expertise, such as knowing when something should be questioned in data or outputs, which performance metrics to optimise for when building machine learning models or where a trade-off in model performance is appropriate.

It’s a pleasure to be able to do what I do best, for who I know best. I’ve found a keen appreciation for our other brands (Range Rover, Defender, Discovery) and I’ve been fortunate enough to get hands on with them too.


You’re focussed on making an impact both inside and outside the business in terms of improving diversity and inclusion within AI. Can you describe some of your work here?

I’ve led outside the team by mentoring female apprentices with a tactical approach, working with them on original project ideas with many value streams.

More recently I founded a ‘Women in AI’ group at Jaguar Land Rover which provides female members across the business with technical and soft-skill development opportunities in a challenging, maledominated field. Additionally, I was chosen for a new (voluntary) role within Jaguar Land Rover’s Women in Engineering committee as its Analytics Lead, helping committee chairs and executive sponsors to become better informed towards improved gender diversity.

I’ve done a lot of work externally which has promoted my skillset and those of my audiences. I’ve delivered numerous talks to industry professionals, students, and women’s leadership and diversity groups, with the goal of promoting inclusion within AI and automotive. The other angle to my talks involves following your passions. Externally I have also been a guest lecturer at a leading UK university where I’m also supporting multiple students (who are also on placement with Jaguar Land Rover) with their final-year, industry-based projects.

Have you faced any challenges as a woman in Data Science, what many see as a typically underrepresented space?

I know some women in tech think they have to do more for the same worth. It’s definitely pushed me to give it everything here. My domain knowledge and Data Science expertise combined help to build my credibility and reputation.

You’ve recently transitioned into a leadership role within Data Science. What are some things you’ve learned, what are some of the challenges faced, and what are you enjoying more now?

I’m continually learning and adapting how I can be a good leader. If I had some qualities before, I realised I had more to learn, such as being assertive, a role model, a Data Science thought leader, comfortable in speaking, confident to be my authentic self. I’m providing support to a breadth of colleagues (in and outside the team) whilst delivering myself. I’m actively involved in setting and refining our team’s strategy and I’m enjoying leading projects which either deliver high financial impact or help set the path in terms of new tech and/or machine learning capability. I’m grateful that my manager (Dr Anthony Woolcock) values my opinion and gives me responsibility to lead (and on exciting things to come)!

Sometimes I’m time-poor so I need to manage my diary well to ensure effectiveness and work-life balance. I’m overseeing people, other projects, doing public speaking and trying to remain hands on. I sometimes block out chunks of time in my diary – I need some meeting-free time to produce quality technical work. I try to finish on time and enjoy a very busy social life with my family and friends. A flexible attitude to how we work helps to keep me happy and energised whilst I’m delivering from various angles.


Have you achieved anything so far which you previously thought would be a dream, and is there anything you’ve still yet to achieve? And do you have any advice for others?

I’m most proud of my recent promotion from Senior to Lead Data Scientist. Also, it was exciting for my family and me when I gained an offer to join Jaguar Land Rover (I especially couldn’t wait to tell my grandparents)!

Despite my interest in Jaguar, I was nervous to join a much larger, global company and adjust to the changes I mentioned earlier, which took me out of my comfort zone considerably. But this was clearly a great choice for me, and has given me courage to continually find new limits in myself to serve my internal and external customers better.

Since joining Jaguar Land Rover, I’ve delivered many Data Science projects of varying natures, which have boosted my abilities whilst creating impact on our vehicles and customers of today and tomorrow. With Jaguar becoming an all-electric brand in 2025, it’s a huge milestone for the company and it’s thrilling to know that my current work contributes to this.

Out of hours, I’ve also experienced several amazing opportunities. To name some, I was sent to support Jaguar TCS Racing at the London E-Prix last Summer, I’ve tested top-tier cars such as the Land Rover Defender and I’m still trying to get used to the fact that I now drive a Jaguar F-TYPE!

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