Insights / Spotlights - 7 minutes

From Academia to Data Business Partner at NHSBSA – Meet Ellen Lynch

Ellen Lynch, Data Business Partner, is responsible for incorporating data strategy within NHSBSA. With an academic background in psychology and research, she is able to quickly pivot to suit the organisation's needs. In this article, we share the secret to her success.

From Academia to Data Business Partner at NHSBSA – Meet Ellen Lynch


Tech Talent Engine


As a Data Business Partner, Ellen Lynch spends most of her time working on data strategies within the NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA).

Whether supporting NHS Workforce Services to incorporate data into its strategy or looking at ways data can be used to shape the customer journey, Ellen can quickly adapt to suit the team's ever-changing needs.

Studying for a PhD early in her career has given Ellen a valuable advantage. With a background in psychology, she excels at easily handling complicated research.

With her research published in academic journals, Ellen has not only had a successful career but has also proven herself as a highly valuable asset to the NHSBSA.

So, what is the secret to Ellen’s success?

Ellen’s background in Academia

Ellen owes her understanding and value of money to her many summers spent waitressing in coffee shops. Her experience in customer-facing roles gave her the ability to pick up on common customer behaviours and patterns - a skill she still values to this day.

Keen to further her understanding of human behaviour and learn more about how the brain works, Ellen attended the University of Leeds to study Psychology in 2006, where her interest in research and reporting flourished.

Graduating in 2009, Ellen decided to continue her studies at the University of East Anglia and completed a master’s in Child and Family Psychology.

Her passion for psychology led Ellen to pursue a PhD. Her PhD thesis focused on understanding the social and psychological predictors of binge drinking in a student population.

Alongside her PhD, Ellen gained valuable experience working in several temporary roles as a research assistant, associate tutor, and lecturer. These roles further enhanced her discipline, patience and other transferable skills.

After graduation, Ellen worked as a Research Associate but found balancing her professional and personal life in academia challenging.

Ellen had two options – continue her career in academia which could negatively affect her well-being or take a chance and pursue a different role at a new organisation.

In 2019, when an opportunity came up to be a User Researcher at NHSBSA, it piqued Ellen’s interest. What attracted her to the organisation was the direct impact the NHSBSA has on the health and well-being of the population. Ellen was excited to make the biggest change in her career so far and very proud to become part of the NHS family.

Her advice to others who are considering switching roles?

When I think about my career, I’ve learned skills from all different places, like working in a café and my time as a research assistant. Each opportunity taught me something new and gave me skills that I still use in my career.

Don’t underestimate the value of everything you have done so far.

Securing a promotion

Ellen joined the NHSBSA to work with their data products and external facing data services. One of her exciting first projects involved looking at users of prescribing data.

Using her knowledge of research methods, she worked with stakeholders to understand the struggles they were facing and how they could work together to find solutions.

Even the simplest solutions can have a huge impact on people's lives. Think about something as straightforward as adding labels to graphs. Although seemingly minor, it can save valuable time for users and remove unnecessary frustrations. These small changes made a significant difference in enhancing user experience and streamlining their tasks.

After spending two years as a User Researcher, Ellen was delighted to be promoted to Data Business Partner. This promotion pushed Ellen out of her comfort zone, presenting new and exciting challenges.

When it comes to making an impression, Ellen’s advice would be:

I take the time to introduce myself and get to know everyone on the team. I make sure to demonstrate my capabilities, it’s important to be a dependable resource that people can count on to deliver projects on time.

Whenever there is an opportunity to try something new, take the opportunity and make new connections with people.

But it’s also important to recognise that you don’t have to say yes to everything. Prioritise what you feel will be beneficial to you and your career.

Working for NHSBSA

Not everyone achieves success in such a short space of time. So, what has propelled Ellen’s success at NHSBSA?

Ellen believes it’s down to the culture.

The NHSBSA genuinely cares about their people and the positive impact it has on the population. For me, finding an organisation that looks after me and is interested in my development is key.

Similarly, regular check-ins with managers and the team to address any concerns or challenges contributes to keeping morale high.

The NHSBSA is committed to being a truly inclusive organisation where you can be yourself and feel your best. This is supported by a comprehensive benefits and wellbeing package. The NHSBSA actively promotes a healthy work-life balance by offering flexible working policies, paid volunteer time and the option to buy additional annual leave, among many other benefits.

Proud moments

Reflecting on her proudest moments at NHSBSA, Ellen feels an immense sense of pride in her work around the open data portal and official statistics.

Ultimately a team effort, Ellen’s role focused on gathering customer feedback, ensuring a customer-centric approach. It is the impact of the service she is really proud of. The portal itself makes data readily available to anyone, free of charge, meaning the data can have a much greater and far-reaching impact.

Most of all, Ellen is proud of her growth over the years. She values the lessons she’s learnt from every experience, no matter how big or small they may seem.

Looking to make a career change?

After reading this article, we hope it’s clear that anyone can change careers, regardless of your background.

Whether you’re new to the sector or you’re a seasoned tech professional, you’re never far from a new opportunity.

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