Women in Tech Series: Crafting beauty from data — the artistry of Yi Wu’s data analytics work
The Women in Tech series puts the spotlight on women who are championing the advancement of transformative technology and digital innovations across UNDP. By sharing these inspiring individual stories, we hope to encourage others to choose this path and spur gender equality in the digital sector.
In the world of technology, remarkable women continually rise to the forefront, reshaping the industry with their expertise and dedication. Meet Yi Wu, an exceptional data and Power BI analyst with UNDP’s Data Management Services team. Her journey embodies innovation and excellence in tech.
Since Yi Wu started working with UNDP four years ago, she has worked for several UNDP Offices including the Philippines Country Office and the Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific where she assisted with developing and scaling up a local technology solution to monitor UNDP CO’s ambitious country programmes. In 2022, she joined UNDP’s Data Management Services Team, where she has already made important contributions to corporate projects like the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) and the development of the UNDP Environmental Management Tool. Importantly, she also assisted with data analytics for Quantum, UNDP’s cloud-based management platform, which launched in January 2023, enabling more modern ways of working to help serve communities around the world.
Yi Wu is one of the people behind improving UNDP’s capabilities to make data driven decisions. In her role, where she builds Power BI reports and provides invaluable data analytics for UNDP, she exemplifies how women are re-shaping the tech industry’s landscape.
Read her interview to learn how she is helping reshape the data landscape:
What is your favourite part of your job in data analytics?
My favourite part of the job is to understand data. When I’m new to a topic, I’m an alien to the data, the data doesn’t reveal its secrets. But if you take the time to understand the data, it will tell you its own story, and eventually you’ll gain a lot of insight into how UNDP functions and makes data driven decisions.
How do you combine your passion for logic and beauty in your approach to data analytics?
I feel very comfortable when everything is logical and flows smoothly like an orchestra. However, I sense most people think data is boring, and to be honest, the raw data that we receive usually presents itself in very messy ways.
UNDP produces an enormous amount of data every day. This data is computer-friendly when it’s created, but it is not always user-friendly. That’s why my team and I are working hard to make sense of our data. We aim to make data beautiful by consolidating it into user-friendly reports so that UNDP colleagues in Bureaux, regions and Country Offices can use it in their daily work. That’s how I work with beauty and logic in the world of data analytics.
Have you encountered any challenges or obstacles in your career?
Back in the Philippines Country Office I was the only person working with data and visualisation in our team. So, I had to learn about new developments and tools in the world of data by myself. Fortunately, today data teams are generally bigger, and there are more colleagues I can learn from. In fact, the team I am a member of consists entirely of women that I am honoured to collaborate with each day.
What inspired you to pursue a career in the tech industry? How did you get to where you are in your career today?
My journey into the world of data began during my second master’s degree in London. My initial academic background was in Business Management, and I wasn’t exactly a science enthusiast. Back then, the subject of data wasn’t present in our discussions, and my studies leaned heavily on theory.
Initially I wasn’t very attracted to the IT industry, considering it to be less on the creative side. It all changed when I stumbled upon a master’s program that combined mathematics, business, and computer science. This is when I realized data isn’t just raw information; it reflects our everyday lives, filled with meaningful insights. I began to grasp that data contains a remarkable logic, persuasiveness, and reliability. With this understanding, I recognized the potential to make well-informed business decisions grounded in data.
In the coming years, I think the data analytics field will evolve rapidly, especially with the rise of Artificial intelligence (AI). AI used for data analytics can already greatly enhance efficiency in the field. But I believe the humans behind data analytics remain irreplaceable in understanding business needs, analysing context, and driving meaningful outcomes from data.