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It takes a make a great analyst

By Lara Fisher posted 10-16-2018 10:22 AM


When we enter the workforce, it is often with a handful of skills and just enough gumption to get hired. Years are spent learning and growing to become the women we want to be professionally and personally. In looking back over the last twenty plus years of my analytics career, I wonder how I got to this point in my life: the job I always wanted.

As analytics professionals we often think our sole role is to be great analysts who come up with amazing and actionable insights. Yes, this is of vital importance. It’s what we’re hired to do. Nonetheless, I’m here to tell you it’s only a portion of your job. To be truly great in analytics, it is important to embrace many other qualities we take for granted everyday.

Over the course of my career I’ve had a number of pivotal mentors and managers. While there have been a few less memorable ones, I’d like to share what I’ve learned beyond Data Studio, Workbench and P values.

My first job out of college was working for Discovery Communications. After two years doing CD-Rom sales bean counting, my department was dissolved. Who knew this Internet thing would catch on? Luckily for me a manager in the research department was in need of a gal Friday and offered me a job. My new manager, Indira, was a powerful influence on my work life. Not only did she teach me the digital analytics ropes, she taught me to show up, be accurate and when in doubt - don’t be afraid to ask questions.

The next boss I had, Jeff, was a gregarious market researcher. The critical thing I learned from Jeff came one day when my emotions were getting the best of me with a tough client. He paused, smiled and said “remember, in life, not everyone thinks the way you do.” Having a little humility and perspective will make you a better analyst.

Carolina, who was my mentor and Vice President for five years afterwards, taught me to work hard but love your job. Her strongest asset, the ability to truly engage clients and tell a story, never ceased to amaze me. In the world of data, our ability to communicate a story is so important.

It takes a certain degree of curiosity to be in analytics. My boss at the Travel Channel, Margaret, embodied that. Margaret was the height of intellectual energy and was so supportive of her team. Passion for data can’t be faked. If I had an idea, she’d usually let me chase it. I’m pretty sure most great analysts are part detective. If you’re lucky enough to work in a supportive environment that allows you to be intellectually curious - run with it.

That brings me all the way to present day. Back to that job I always wanted. We all know it takes a village sometimes, but at Blast Analytics & Marketing, I do have a village supporting me. For that I am blessed. It is at Blast that I have learned my most skill to-date: to believe in myself. Don’t be afraid to stretch yourself. Nothing great ever happens in your comfort zone.

All these people have been mentors to me. They may not have even realized it, but they left an indelible impression on my life.

If you’re young and just getting on that elevator to the top, do yourself a favor and look for people to inspire you, challenge you and elevate your game. If you’re already in that corner office, remember, send the elevator back down. Even on those days you don’t have time for lunch, take ten minutes for the new gal. You’ll be glad you did.

For those of you looking to jump-start some inspiration in your analytics career, I highly encourage you to check out the Women in Analytics Mentoring Program. It offers women in analytics a chance to thrive and be part of the village!




10-29-2018 01:31 PM

This is a great story @Lara Fisher! and great analysts tell great stories :)

Reading this, I remembered the mentors I had along the journey, and I agree with you on the importance of giving back through mentoring programs and extending our knowledge to those who just started their careers! While working with my #WiA mentee now, I often find myself telling her stories and experiences of how I learned when I started my career as a fresh grad as she will be soon! 

Thanks for sharing your story with us! ​​I enjoyed reading it! 

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