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Nicola Curran Data Champion Profile

Nicola Curran is the Head of Commercial Revenue at ScotRail, Scotland’s national train company.

She is responsible for a team of 8, covering a number of ScotRail’s core functions. These include, pricing, product development, customer insight, passenger demand reporting, and revenue forecasting. The recovery following the pandemic, combined with the move over to the public sector, has made each of these functions more important than ever.

Nicola’s journey with data

Nicola has been actively involved with a number of The Data Lab’s programmes, starting her journey with our ‘Introduction to Data for Business Leaders’ course. These sessions explore data at an introductory level for decision makers, built to help identify opportunities and justify investment.

Following the course, Nicola approached The Data Lab’s Data Science team to propose a project designed to help ScotRail better understand their passenger numbers post-pandemic. The collaboration was so successful that her work received national recognition, and she was encouraged to take her work a step further with TDL’s TORCH team, with a project aiming to help ScotRail become more self-sufficient in data and analytics.

Nicola is now working with The Data Lab’s MSc Placement programme to secure a student who will help them implement the next phase of ScotRail’s data project. She is also expanding her team over the coming months to introduce two new roles that will allow for additional focus on scoping, creating and delivering a successful commercial data strategy.

Data learns from Nicola Curran

  • People, process, data, and technology all need considered for the successful delivery of any data related project.
  • Collaboration and buy-in across the business is essential to drive forward change. With regard to implementing a data strategy, it cannot be the sole responsibility of one team.
  • It will take time embed new ways of working … perseverance is key!
  • There are very rarely complete, clean datasets on which to work with so don’t be put off if you don’t have all the information you need, you will likely still have enough to find some answers- which can be refined and developed further over time.

We asked Nicola about her thoughts around current and future demand for data skills, alongside her thinking around the potential for upskilling and retraining to address data skills gaps in the workforce

“We are currently recruiting for 2 new data roles within the team, and so I’m aware of the ever-growing demand for the skills these roles require. ScotRail are really starting out on the data journey, so there is a desire to bring in some experienced people to help support the development in areas such as Machine Learning and Coding.

There are, on the other hand, some very talented employees with ScotRail that are keen to develop in this area and so it’s important to get the right balance of upskilling existing employees, whilst providing support from others with experience of delivering more advanced data-driven projects.

ScotRail is dedicated to upskilling the current workforce, offering opportunities to complete part-time degrees and shorter online courses in data analysis – something which a number of employees are working on at the moment.”

Other Links

Case Study: How TORCH helped ScotRail to become more self-sufficient in data and analytics
Connect: Follow Nicola on LinkedIn

More Data Champion profiles

If you liked this profile, you might also like our other data champion bios with Spirit Spyder’s Co-Founder Vicky Dewar, and Pete Duncan, Business Analyst for Edinburgh First.