The issue

When growing up, we are used to progress based on a given scale or framework. If we take school as an example, we know exactly what the next stage is, and what we have to do to get there. Easy, you just need to get the minimum grade. If you do better than that, you get recognised with a distinction.   


Many of us, myself included, start our professional life believing that good hard work will get us promoted. Working in analytics means that we need hours of focus work where we only interact with our code or data. We spend a significant amount of time ensuring our analysis is on spot, that the data tell impactful stories, that our models predict as accurately as possible. Yet, we are still at the same table, watching in frustration as others get promoted.   


I spent years in this position, thinking I had to change jobs to increase my salary, wondering why would others not recognise my contribution, and what I was doing wrong. Ultimately, I started thinking I wasn’t good enough and even considered changing my career. Thankfully, I realised in time that in the business world, hard work on its own isn’t enough, you need to ensure that you are visible. Since then, I changed my approach, as well as the way I work, and was even recognised with an industry award as one of the Top 20 in data and technology for 2020.  


Because so many have shared on this topic before, I spent hours debating whether or not I should write this article. What more can I add to the discussion? I used to be so shy, that my teachers couldn’t hear my answers to their questions and told my parents they had to do something about it. As a professional, owning my achievements, stepping out of my corner, and increasing my visibility have, so far, been the biggest challenge I’ve had to overcome in my career, and I would like to share my learnings with you.   

If like me, you are an introvert, the thought of increasing your visibility probably gives you anxiety. Don’t worry, you will find here some advice that will feel feasible to you.  

Why is it important to stop being an invisible analyst? 

If you are reading this, chances are that you are tired of not being recognised at work and are looking for a solution.  

– No kidding Karen!


As mentioned in the introduction, not being visible in your organisation can have a very negative impact on your career and on your self-confidence. In my case, it made me question my career choices, and I went as far as considering leaving it all behind. When you are not visible, your work is not noticed and therefore not recognised. You feel underappreciated, frustrated, and can start doubting your performance as well as your value. You become reluctant to put yourself forward for bigger, better projects and fade in the background. You get stuck in an unhealthy loop.  

Aside from how being invisible can affect you as an individual, I also believe it to be one of the contributors to the gender pay gap given that women are less likely to self-promote in the workplace. A survey ran by The Self-Promotion Gap found that 70% of women surveyed would rather downplay their accomplishments than telling people about them.  


Now that we’ve established the impact, let’s investigate how to make things better.  

How to turn things around and increase your visibility? 

Reflect on your situation  

Like everything touching career progression and personal development, it starts with self-reflection.   

A couple of questions to get you started:  

  • Why are you in this situation?   
  • What are your strengths?  
  • What are your achievements?  
  • What does it take to get promoted/recognised in your organisation?  


Once you have done this exercise by yourself, have another go with someone you trust, preferably someone you work with. This will give you some perspective.   

Notice that there is nothing on areas for improvement in this initial reflection. This is simply because it won’t help. While learning new skills or improving your competencies is important, you will want to be in the right mindset when working on increasing your visibility. Running around trying to tick all the skills that are “required” in the field will only be counter-productive.   

 - See how I put required in speech quotes here… 

As my mentor once told me:  

Stop focusing on your weaknesses, focus on your strengths

Promote your work and competencies  

Earlier I spoke about a survey that showed that some would rather downplay their achievements rather than tell people about them. And here I am, saying you should promote yourself. Let’s be honest, even if it’s an uncomfortable truth, you already knew that.  I won’t waste any of your time talking about why you should be promoting your work as there are some articles and books out there that will do a better job than mine. What I can offer are some tips on how to do so without feeling like you have to be a different person or that you are showing off.   

Talking about your work and achievements doesn’t mean you have to go to others and say “Hey” look at this cool thing I did!”. The beauty of working in data means that people tend to be curious about what we do. Moreover, chances are that your leadership team is interested in increasing data literacy in the organisation. Why not use this to your advantage?   

Here are a few things you could try:  

  •  Present at all staff meetings  

You could either present a project you worked on, focussing on what business problem it was addressing , and, on the outcome, volunteer to cover  non-analytics-related section or ask to co-host.  


  • Run companywide workshops  

Most companies nowadays have lunch and learn sessions. You could offer to run one on a topic of your choice. The possibilities are endless: training on a new product, updates on the industry, data visualisation, etc… Coding workshops are fantastic. There is something about writing your first piece of code and looking at the result. I once ran a JavaScript workshop without even knowing JS myself and it was very well received. That said, you don’t have to focus on sharing your technical skills. You could talk about anything that you are good at. Work-related or not, around personal development, wellbeing, baking… you love it? then share it!  

If your company is very large, you might want to restrict the spaces to make the experience less intimidating.  


  • Create a newsletter for your team  

I promised there will be some ideas for introverts or those not yet ready for public speaking. A newsletter is a great way to be visible without having all eyes turned on you.  

The goal would be to showcase what the team has been working on and what impact it’s had on the business. You can also use it to increase data literacy and share knowledge. The advantage of the newsletter is that you can also advocate for your peers, not just yourself. You also raise your profile within your team by making yourself known to everyone and demonstrating leadership. This is a very handy format.  

We’ve implemented a newsletter at Cardlytics UK for about 18 months now and had some amazing feedback. We made it fun and engaging while ensuring we provide content that increases awareness of what’s been going on as well as educating other teams on analytics concepts.  


  • Get involved in areas in which you can make a difference  

While excelling at your day-to-day tasks is important, business as usual won’t get you noticed. You need to find areas where you can make a difference.  

This is a great opportunity to connect with colleagues you don’t speak with on a regular basis, and to add a bit of variety to your work.   

Join the social or the DAE committee. Take part in innovation projects, although that might be a bit more time-consuming.  

Make your manager happy by getting involved in projects that support their objectives. They will be very thankful if you made their life easier.  


  • Consider raising your profile outside of the organisation  

Although this could be difficult for introverts, it’s worth a shot. I experienced the benefits first hand since I started producing and hosting the Women in Data Podcast. I approached WiD with the idea of a podcast in August 2019 with the sole objective to share the experience and knowledge of the amazing women I had met through the community. It was all about giving back and supporting others in their career. What I hadn’t anticipated was the impact this was going to have on my own career and how much support I would get from my organisation’s leadership team including those based outside of the UK.   


I can hear you say “I don’t have time for this”. I get it, we lead busy lives. But if you want to progress in your career, you might want to make visibility one of your top priorities and let go of what doesn’t serve your goals and can be delegated.   


  • Get the right help: surround yourself with the right people  

Lastly, you don’t have to do this alone. Find within your organisation and outside, people who are willing to help. There are 3 groups of people that I believe are indispensable in your quest for career progression.  


Mentors – Through their experience and perspective, they will provide you with some invaluable advice to help you grow and get to where you want to be. There’s been a lot of talks around mentoring in the last few years and the same question keeps coming back: How do I ask someone to be my mentor?  

In her book, Unapologetically ambitious, Shellye Archambeau advises readers not to ask to be mentored but to adopt a mentor. According to her, you can do this by targeting the individual you want to learn from, asking them one specific question, testing their advice, and going back to them a couple of weeks later with an update, the impact it had, and maybe a follow-up question. I absolutely love this approach; it removed the awkwardness of “Do you want to be my mentor?”  


Advocates – While mentors are here for their advice, advocates help you boost your visibility. They will be the ones telling others how great you are. This makes them indispensable for those of us who really struggle with self-promotion. A good resource on finding an advocate is episode 215 of the Squiggly careers podcast, where Silvia Ann Hewlett talks about the difference between a mentor and a sponsor, about how to create and sustain a relationship with a sponsor, and shares some practical examples.  


Decision-makers within your organisation – Needless to say that if you want to be promoted, you have to make yourself known to the people who decide who gets promoted. Find out who they are and build strong relationships with them and show them what you are capable of. Alina Timofeeva gives some practical tips in episode 41 of the Women in Data podcast.


Visibility within your organisation is important for career progression, personal development, and self-esteem.  

To increase your visibility, you can:  

  • Reflect on your strengths and achievements  
  • Present at all staff meetings  
  • Run companywide workshops    
  • Create a newsletter for your team    
  • Get involved in areas in which you can make a difference    
  • Consider raising your profile outside of the organisation    
  • Surround yourself with the right people    

As an introvert, I have managed to go from not being able to speak in a classroom, to being a public speaker. One step at a time, you can change your career and life. Why not give it a go?  

Written by : Karen Jean-Francois

As an Analytics Manager, Karen is passionate about helping data analytics professionals ace their career. Her work in this space led to an industry award as a Twenty in Data and Technology in 2020.

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