Why we’ve partnered with Women in data…

As part of Virgin Media O2’s new environment, social and governance (ESG) strategy plan, we are implementing comprehensive measures to underscore our role as a leading employer and a great place to work. We’ve launched a diversity, equity and inclusion strategy, All In, to increase representation and equity across the business.

Our ambition is to drive forward progress for gender parity, including all gender identities and expressions across our organisation. But it doesn’t stop there. Our partnership with Women in Data is all about helping create a culture that enables women to follow a career in data and thrive at every level – at Virgin Media O2 and in the wider industry.


Helen Gardiner headshot
Helen Gardiner
Head of Data Governance
Jo Dowdall headshot
Jo Dowdall
Analytics Manager
Arwa 2
Arwa S Sayegh
Analytics Manager
Esther Pettit headshot
Esther Petit
Senior Product Manager – Data & AI
Marie Feliho
Director, Customer Experience Strategy
Thabi Kgaka
Head of Data Value Creation  
Nisha Kumari
Data Business Analyst
Mónica Mercado Páez
Head of AI and Data at Virgin Media O2 Business

How VIRGIN MEDIA o2 see the data landscape changing in the UK in the next 5 years

Data can tackle some of the most pressing problems of our age. It can help us understand positive ways to transform how we live and work while responding to global issues like climate change. Meanwhile, organisations can use data to create new sources of value through innovation in product development, operational efficiency or productivity. Achieving these outcomes will depend on what we all do with the data at our disposal. Which is why we need people of all gender identities and expressions, ethnic groups and ages to bring their talents to the table.

Over the next five years, we expect to see automation, analytics and ethical AI become broadly adopted across the whole economy. Within Virgin Media O2 , we’re already helping customers on that journey. As well as connecting the nation, we’re putting data at the heart of new services – like applications that digitise complex, non-linear processes and analytics tools that give detailed insights into customer behaviour.

Yet we couldn’t do any of this without the people who work in data at Virgin Media O2. Which is why it is crucial that the UK continues to invest in employment initiatives, reskilling programmes and attracting a wider range of talent into the growing field of data and analytics.


Virgin Media and O2 have joined forces to reimagine connectivity – as a digital partner that helps UK organisations rise to the challenge of the new working dynamic between companies, consumers and their communities.

Virgin Media O2 plays a leading role in supporting the public sector and businesses of all sizes to achieve more, from small and medium organisations right up to large enterprise and wholesale partners. This includes offering a variety of managed connectivity services and flexible working capabilities, security, data insight, 5G private networks and cloud solutions, as well as wholesale services to other operators and partners.

Virgin Media O2 is committed to using the power of connectivity to share more with communities across the UK, taking action to close the digital divide and helping to build an inclusive, resilient, and low carbon economy.

Expertise: Data Management and Data Governance
Education: BSc (Hons) Geography
Social media details: LinkedIn

A bit about me…
I was born in Yorkshire and grew up in Dorset. I now live in Berkshire with my wife and our Labrador, Connie. I love hiking and trail running and take part in ultra-marathons – I always pick routes in beautiful places so that the scenery keeps me going when my legs want to give up! We have a VW campervan and love going away in it – we’ve got a couple of favourite campsites that we go back to each year.

I started my career as a Unix administrator with a financial services company and from there I moved into the Data Warehousing and Business Intelligence space, so I have always understood how powerful and valuable data is to an organisation. My focus now is Data Governance but I come to it with a lens of increasing the usability of data not controlling usage of it – increasing usage of our data assets is the most important measure of the success of data governance.

Why did I join Virgin Media O2?
I was ready for a move into a management role and couldn’t see it happening in the company I was with at the time. A former colleague had made the move to Virgin Media about a year earlier and was loving it and he made me aware of a vacancy that had come up. I interviewed and was successful, but I knew that it wasn’t the right role for me because it didn’t have the management challenge that I was looking for. About 6 months later the manager of the team that I had interviewed for left Virgin Media, and they contacted me to see if I was still looking and offered me the manager role – it just shows the power and importance of network and relationships but also that doors rarely close completely.

What do I like most about Virgin Media O2
Following the joint venture between Virgin Media and O2 we are on a very exciting journey to turn the telecommunications industry on its head with fresh-thinking and innovative ideas.

In our Data Estate team we are on a mission to enhance the value of our data and transform the culture at Virgin Media O2 towards data as a strategic asset. Our teams are building state of the art data governance and privacy capabilities, optimising consents and opt-ins and exploiting data monetization opportunities anchored in a relationship with our customers of trust, transparency, and control.

We focus on high-performing team-play, pushing each other outside of our comfort zones, leaning on each other as we learn and grow in a culture of openness, vulnerability, unconditional support, and the ability to laugh together. It is a very exciting time to be working here.

Expertise: Data visualisation and analytics, HCI/UX, accessibility

Education: BSc(Hons) Applied Computing

Social media details: LinkedIn

When I left school I didn’t know what I wanted to do as a career. My best grades were in STEM subjects but I hadn’t found a career option that excited me so I applied to university to study for a degree in Mathematics but I deferred my entry for a year. For my gap year I applied to the EDT’s Year In Industry (YINI) program, and it was during my YINI year that I found a love for computing/IT. Following YINI I changed my degree course to Applied Computing and towards the end of my degree I chose to specialise in Human Computer Interaction and User Experience topics.

After graduating I joined the O2 graduate scheme as a developer where I had the opportunity to try working with different coding languages and styles. I enjoyed it all but I didn’t find ‘my thing’ as such. After 5 years working in accessibility a job opening came up as an analyst on the O2 Motion team. I went for it as a bit of a long shot, with no real experience in big data, but I was offered the position and I have not looked back since! Since joining the team I’ve discovered that my big passion is data visualisation, it pulls together my interests in HCI, UX and presenting information perfectly, and I also love the creative side of it. I have definitely found ‘my thing’!


Education: BSc in Mathematics, MSc(Eng) in Transport Planning and Engineering, PhD in Transport Studies.
Expertise: Data analysis, data modelling, data visualisation, optimisation, machine learning, big data, product development
Social media: LinkedIn

The data industry is changing and its changing fast. The opportunities we have in this space now are limitless and I am really glad that the younger generation of data professionals is being exposed to these opportunities earlier on in their career.

When I was doing my Bachelor degree in mathematics, I had no idea that I would be applying my knowledge and skills in the world of big data. In fact, I really disliked the first computer science module and did not want anything to do with it, but little did I know! This has completely changed when I was doing my MSc thesis. I got introduced to open source data and open source programming software. I loved it and my career took a turn. Here, I am forever grateful to my mentors and those who believed in me before I myself did.

Now, I love working with big data. At VMO2, it is fast paced and so far it is never boring. I get to try and understand from clients which questions we can answer using our data, brainstorm ideas on how can we make better use of our data, continuously adapt and implement new ways of getting our systems to be more efficient, and most importantly share the knowledge with others.

Working in challenging and fast paced environments, it is always worth reminding ourselves of our wins. By appreciating our small wins, I can say to myself and to anyone who has this ‘I want to but I cannot do it’ voice in their head that: you can do it – slowly but surely.

Expertise: Product development, delivery and growth

Education: MSc in Transport  – Imperial College and University College, London, UK
Engineering school (3 years postgraduate degree)- Ecole Centrale de Lyon, France  Preparatory class in Lycée du Parc, Lyon, France – Specialty: Mathematics-Physics

Social media details: LinkedIn

If you had told me 2 years ago that I’d be a Senior Product Manager looking after Data products, I would have said “Senior Product Manager, that makes sense. Data products… no way!!!”. So… how did I get there, and how come I am actually enjoying it?!

Well, when I consider a role, there are three elements that I take into account: what I’ll be learning, what I’ll do day-to-day, and how it’ll align with my values. And this role provides strong answers to all three.

First, I’m learning from kind, experienced, smart, colleagues every day. By being curious about my customers’ needs, I learn about a wide range of industries and people. I love being surprised by why customers do what they do. As telecommunications are a new industry for me, I’m also learning how B2B products are developed in a telco, and am enriching my product management and leadership skills.

Regarding what I do day-to-day, the role is similar to most product management roles, with the careful balancing of customer needs, technical feasibility, and commercial considerations, along with a heavy dose of strategic vision, cross-functional collaboration and leading with and without authority. I love being in such a varied function. I get energised from customer visits and am so proud of the achievements of my engineering colleagues when a new feature is built!

Finally, what sealed the deal, is how well data products and working for Virgin Media O2 align with my values. I believe that quality data is crucial for companies and authorities to drive better, fairer decisions and challenge preconceptions. I personally love it when my own assumptions get busted by solid data evidence and strive to make data-led decisions. And it’s not just theoretical: I care that the data products I develop add practical value to society. For example, by supporting better public transport and urban planning decisions, our data products can improve people’s quality of life and reduce carbon emissions.

How the data is produced also matters greatly to me, and I’m glad to see that VMO2 have stringent data privacy processes in place, invest in reducing their carbon footprint, and work towards ensuring their workforce is diverse (cue Women in Data!) and treated with respect.

So how did I end up in such a role? Well, once I looked honestly and without judgement at what gives me energy at work, being a Data Product Manager ticked all the right boxes! Maybe you have or will find the same?

Education: Masters in International Marketing

Social Media Details: LinkedIn

I am a seasoned leader in the tech world, bridging the gap between customer marketing strategy and technology. I am driven by data and backed by 20 years of extensive experience in building successful customer retention strategies on an international stage. My industry expertise is broad and dynamic, spanning multiple fast-paced and fiercely competitive sectors, including Tech, Travel, Telecoms, and Loyalty programs.

I spearheaded the customer engagement transformation at Just Eat Takeaway as the Global Head of Promotions & Customer Marketing, where I brought together marketing efforts with customer product experiences. By integrating advanced machine-learning and personalization techniques, I injected a unique blend of technological innovation and authentic human warmth into customer relationships.

I have recently joined Virgin Media O2 as the Director of Customer Experience, where I play a key role in the Change team, driving business transformation and enhancing customer experiences across multiple touchpoints.

As a strong advocate for diversity, I am an active player in pushing for inclusive representation within the organization. I am committed to driving changes that will see more people of colour ascending to boardroom leadership roles.

Expertise: Ambidextrous profile that has experience across management consulting & product management

Product Management focuses: FinTech in emerging markets + eCommerce and AdTech

Education: Rhodes University (South Africa)
Bachelor’s in Information Systems, Management & Economics

Social Media Details: LinkedIn

Bit about me….

I love wild animals and going on Safari when I’m home in South Africa

I’m also very curious about all things Space

Why did I join Virgin Media O2….

VMO2 presented an interesting opportunity for me to continue to deep-dive into the work of ML/AI with other product applications beyond eCommerce and AdTech.

Education:  Masters in data science from Cardiff University, Wales UK – (2022) Bachelor of Technology in Computer Science and Engineering, BPUT India – (2008)

Social Media Details: LinkedIn

I have 11 years of expertise in the fields of Business Intelligence, Data Migration and Data Science & Analytics. With strong 9+ years of experience in ETL/ELT (BigQuery, ODI, Informatica and Azure Data Factory), SQL Server Database development (MS – SQL / Oracle) and Looker, Tableau, Power-BI as well as expert with data warehousing technical components (e.g. Data Modeling, ETL pipelines) and also holding strong domain experience in US and UK financial(Fixed Income, Capital Market), telecommunications & Healthcare Markets, and demonstrated history of working experience Risk Management, Retail Supply Chain Analytics, financial services Reporting and Healthcare Industries. In addition to having extensive experience utilising GitHub to manage releases, as well as building and deploying clean pipelines collaboratively using Jira (Confluence) tool and having a thorough understanding of Agile Methodology (SCRUM).

Along with 2 years’ experience in Python Programming, Machine learning, Deep learning and NLP with proven results in designing successful algorithms and predictive, classification and NLP models for the Supply chain management. Predictive modeling, data processing, and numerous data mining algorithms including clustering and web scraping are among her strong suits.

Bit about me….

I am determined and aspirational. I constantly set goals for myself because I enjoy challenges and need something to work towards. I find it uncomfortable to settle and am constantly searching for ways to improve and reach new heights. Making a difference wherever I go and never stopping learning are important to me.

I was born and raised in India, where I also completed my undergraduate studies. I chose to become a software engineer because I have a strong interest in maths. I began my career in India as an Application Developer at Tech Mahindra and worked for three multinational corporations. After gaining experience from the first company, I moved to Oracle as Principal Consultant and worked with different products and technologies for about 7 years. I decided to experience the startup culture, so I joined DvSum Pvt Ltd as Principal Data Consultant and worked there for ten months before relocating to the UK. Having gained extensive experience in the field of data, I wanted to equip myself with a comprehensive set of end-to-end data solutions, so I choose to pursue a master’s degree in data science and analytics at Cardiff University. And I’m currently using my education and prior experience to work as a Data Business Analyst with Virgin Media O2. I like to visit new places, experience cuisine, and learn about traditions from all over the world.

Why did I join Virgin Media O2….

I joined Virgin Media O2 because it has given me the chance to work in the telecoms industry in an atmosphere that is rich in data. With my master’s in data science under my belt, I can now apply data science techniques to real-world problems involving forecasting , network optimisation, customer behaviour, and product development. Virgin Media O2 is well known for making technological and data analytics investments.

The company’s culture, values, and commitment to leveraging data for decision-making, which all line with my own ethical standards and professional aspirations. I joined at the same time as Virgin Media and O2 merged, which allowed me to be a part of a revolutionary stage when I contributed my skills to the integration process and used data migration and data science to create synergies between the two companies.

Expertise: Product & Business Manager | Telecoms Industry

Bachelor’s Degree in Electronics Engineering, Post-degree in Telecommunications Technologies and MSc in Business and Technology

Social media details: LinkedIn

A bit about me…

I have always been interested in digital technology, despite growing up in a small town in Colombia primarily known for agricultural work. I graduated with a degree in Electronic Engineering in 2009 and moved to Argentina in 2012 to pursue a master’s degree in Telecommunications Engineering. Eventually, I also earned a master’s degree in Business and Technology in 2019. Throughout my career, I have excelled in roles as a business and product development manager, leading teams across various countries with a proven track record in delivering growth, primarily within the Telecoms industry.

I am passionate about driving innovation and growth within this dynamic sector and am fully committed to advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion in professional environments. I relocated to the UK in 2022 and am currently based in the vibrant city of London, where I feel at home and enjoy embracing its culture.

From a personal perspective, I am eager to actively engage with non-profit organisations, contributing to closing the gender gap that still exists within the sector. I typically find fulfilment in participating in projects that leverage technology to drive progress for individuals, organisations, and communities.

Why did I join Virgin Media O2?

I’ve always enjoyed working in multicultural environments and engaging with people from diverse backgrounds. Moving to the UK felt like a great opportunity to further develop both my technical and leadership skills whilst living in a country with a multicultural population. At Virgin Media O2, as the Head of AI and Data in the Business & Wholesale division, I not only have the chance to work on cutting-edge technology-related products but also am part of a diverse team with more than ten nationalities, strongly committed to fostering DI&E.

What do I like most about Virgin Media O2

Since joining Virgin Media O2 in July 2022, my focus has been on driving the P&L growth of our Artificial Intelligence and Data Insights portfolio by defining the product lifecycle and customer journey. I appreciate the opportunity to work alongside a group of dedicated individuals focused on developing and enhancing data-driven products, empowering our customers to make better decisions based on actionable insights.

One standout aspect of my time at VMO2 is leading a team of highly skilled professionals, which provides me with a continuous learning playground – an aspect I particularly enjoy about working at Virgin Media O2. Additionally, the products we’ve launched leverage innovative technologies such as machine learning and AI engines. Our AI-driven tech stack enables us to analyse a significant amount of mobile network data, predict people’s movement, detect fraudulent activity, and automate processes. Working on these innovative products brings a sense of fulfilment and joy that I embrace every day.