Women in STEM fields are grossly underrepresented, with less than 20% making up the most senior leadership positions in STEM fields. However, the tide is changing, and we are starting to see some real improvements for girls and women’s representation in STEM study and careers.
Since 2015, the proportion of women enrolled in University STEM fields has increased by 2 percentage points, the number of women working across STEM industries has continually increased from 24% in 2016 to 28% in 2020, and importantly, the number of key management personnel and senior managers who are women has gone from 18% in 2016 to 28% in 2020.
As the saying goes, you can’t be what you can’t see – so the increase of women in leadership roles in STEM is incredibly important to continuing to see growth in women working in STEM.
Meet Christelle Young, Chief Data and Analytics Officer at L’Oreal South Asia Pacific, Middle East, North Africa and Singapore – the woman who is smashing the glass ceiling in STEM and turning L’Oreal into one the most innovative and successful companies to leverage data and analytics to improve its performance, which is making L’Oreal one of the most in-demand workplaces for IT graduates and marketing experts alike.
Tell us a little bit about your career journey
Throughout my career, I have had a strong interest in both the art of beauty and utilizing data to drive business outcomes. I began my professional journey while studying at Monash University, where I earned a Bachelor of Business Information Technology with a major in information systems and a specialization in business analytics from Melbourne Business School.
Whilst at uni I started out as a make-up artist with MAC Estee Lauder, which helped to solidify my passion for the beauty industry. Simultaneously, as I managed some of the MAC stores, I developed a strong interest in the power of data and its ability to improve business performance. I have experience in various roles, including consulting work where I used my skills to scrape websites, conduct analysis and create websites with booking systems, shopping carts and recommendation engines. My favorite work was creating databases and VB.net applications, skills I leveraged at Mecca Cosmetics before pursuing my masters.
I have also worked as a consultant at strategy firm Kearney, where I specialized in data, analytics and strategy for major corporations globally. During this time, I co-created the Analytics Impact Index, a maturity assessment tool that uses machine learning to calculate the value of analytics and drivers of maturity, which I helped to conduct on over 400 organizations in its first year.
Afterward, I held the role of General Manager -Transformation & Analytics at TOLL, and later an opportunity to combine my love for the beauty industry and data came to join L’Oreal. where I served as the Chief Strategy and Analytics Officer for Australia and now recently been promoted to handle the South Asia Pacific, Middle East & North Africa regions and currently based in Singapore.
I started my working life, while studying at university, as a make-up artist with MAC Estee Lauder, so I guess you could say I’ve always had an affinity for make-up and beauty. I was simultaneously interested in maths and art, so I went to Monash University to study a Bachelor of Business Information Technology, majoring in information systems and majored in business analytics from Melbourne Business School. I fell in love with the power of data – and how it could improve business outputs from the inside-out.
I did a lot of consulting work, scraping websites and doing analysis, creating websites with booking systems, shopping carts and recommendation engines, this was before the likes of Shopify. I had my own websites, playgrounds to explore new technology, I still own many domain names, but they now sit dormant. My two children, now 10 & 12yrs old both have their own domains too. My favorite work was creating databases and VB.net applications- the macro code you can write in Excel and other Microsoft applications. A skill I used at Mecca Cosmetics before leaving to do my Masters. I eventually joined the world of consulting at strategy firm Kearney, doing data, analytics and strategy for major corporations globally. Most notably I co created the Analytics Impact Index. A maturity assessment that used ML to calculate the value of analytics and the drivers of maturity, after assessing over 400 organization around the world in its first year- It is now in it’s sixth year. I then held the role of General Manager -Transformation & Analytics at TOLL. I then got an opportunity to combine my love for beauty and data, and I came to L’Oreal to be the Chief Strategy and Analytics Officer for Australia. I was recently promoted to look after this for the South Asia Pacific, Middle East & North Africa regions, and I’m based in Singapore.
What do you love most about your role?
My philosophy is: if you can’t measure it, you can’t move it. For me, data and analytics is all about moving the dial. Through it, we can find out where we are as a business, and how we can make better and smarter decisions. For example, how can we forecast better, so we have the right amount of stock and don’t run out or have wastage; based on previous interactions, how can we better target our media and marketing to attract better ROI. Every decision we make, from the budgeting, to marketing, to forecasting, your supply chain, all of that is about data-driven decision-making and that’s the analytics that we’re encompassing here.
So, every decision that these key executives need to make, we’re helping optimize that decision with data. Through data, we can enact real change – and I love that!
Can you tell us one key achievement in your role at L’Oreal?
I’m proud of L’Oreal ANZ AVA Academy. AVA stands for Adding Value through Analytics and is a program we designed to develop a data-driven business culture.
The data academy has three streams. The first one is for every single staff member at L’Oreal and is aimed at creating an understanding and awareness of data analytics, to help people see what data they have at their disposal and how they can use it to make better decisions.
This one is particularly important, as it’s designed to upskill the entire business and give people the in-demand skills that they need to thrive in their roles now and upskill for the future of work.
The second stream is around tools and technology, ranging from training in the use of spreadsheets to more sophisticated tools like Power BI – a program that can be used to analyse data and create data visualisations and dashboards.
And third stream is targeted at data scientists specifically – going into the latest AI and tools to help them do their jobs even better.
While most staff members only need go through the first stream, there has been a lot of interest in the second stream of training – which just goes to show the value of education in this space and the improved outputs utilising data and analytics better can bring.
It’s important to me that everyone can learn these important skills and I’m proud to be giving everyone at L’Oreal, especially women, this opportunity. It’s a game changer.
L’Oreal is well known for supporting women in STEM. How has this inspired you personally?
L’Oreal’s support for women in STEM has been a source of inspiration for me personally. As a woman in the technology industry, it can be challenging to navigate a field that is largely dominated by men. Seeing a major company like L’Oreal recognize the importance of diversity and actively work to support women in STEM gives me hope and motivation to continue pursuing my goals in this field. It also serves as a reminder that I am not alone in this journey and that there are people and organizations that are committed to promoting diversity and inclusion in STEM. Additionally, recognizing the importance of role models and being one myself, means taking ownership of my own success and being willing to inspire and mentor others. It also means being aware of the impact I can have on others and being willing to use my own experiences to help others succeed.
For more inspiring stories from women working in STEM careers, check out:
Equifax’s Kari Mastropasqua Interview: ‘Stop Calling Data Analytics Dry’
Sustainable Futures Consultant Angela Begg Talks About Her Inspiring Career in STEM
Meet L’Oreal-UNESCO Women In Science Program Winners