Revisiting “My Analytics Story”
Working on the 3rd Edition of my book, Putting Your Data to Work: A Guidebook for the Filipino Professional. Thought I would share some of the content here.
My Analytics Story
Analytics is in many ways a new profession and up until very recently few people have seen being an analyst as career path. In fact, the majority of analysts became so by accident. To understand analytics, the first thing you should know is that there is no one, right way to analyze things.
As with my case, most analysts are drawn to analytics because they like to solve problems, have an affinity for working with data, are tech savvy and above all else… insatiably curious. By the time I first had analyst in my title, I had already been doing analytics for several years.
Before I was even out of college I became the “Data Guy. I found my novice skills with Excel, my interest in sharing knowledge and my ability to solve problems made me highly employable. Still, there is nothing specific in my background that would suggest I’d become an analytics expert someday.
I majored in History with a plan to be a teacher and even obtained my Master’s Degree in Education. After college I started to teach, but the school I was working at went bankrupt. So I took a job with Wells Fargo Bank just to pay the bills and 15 years later I had amassed a wide range of analytics skills.
If you ask anyone with analyst in their job title, most of them have similar stories. Until recently you could not even get a degree in analytics as schools are just now offering analytics focused courses and degrees.
In 1998, I had the good fortune of being hired by Wells Fargo. The factors that contributed most to my success with the bank were two things inherit in the culture; the progressive use of data in decision-making and the accepted practice of moving up the corporate ladder by moving between departments.
If I had to pick one thing above all others that had made me a good analyst, it is my ability to quickly assess a problem and then identify the data needed to solve the problem. For me, finding the right data is the most important trait to have and also the hardest to teach. It comes out of being curious and letting that curiosity drive you to find answers.
For 15 years that drive lead me to add new skills, learn new technologies, and develop new methods to become a proverbial jack of all trades when it comes to analytics. I often describe myself as a super hero, curiosity being my super power and the wide range of skills I’ve picked up being items on my analytics utility belt.
I am far from an expert on most of the ever increasing number of analytics tools out there, but I know what they can do and what they are good at. There are definitely a lot of people who are better at different aspects of analytics and no one can know it all. But in the end, I have become in many ways a guru of analytics.
I love talking about the fundamentals of analytics, explaining it in layman’s terms, empowering people new to the concept. I also have a passion for sharing my experience with predictive analytics models, using SQL code to write a complex series of table joins between data sources or figuring out what tool would be best use to build a business dashboard.
For the past 7 years now I have been exploring data sets, answering questions, and providing solutions here in the Philippines and loving every minute of it. Analytics… it’s more fun in the Philippines! :)
Dan Meyer heads Sonic Analytics, an analytics advocacy with offices in Manila and the San Francisco Bay Area. With over 20 years in Big Data, Dan is one of the most sought-after public speakers in Asia and has recently begun offering public training seminars in the United States.
Sonic Analytics(www.sonicanalytics.com) brings big data analytics solutions like business intelligence, business dashboards and data storytelling to small and medium sized organizations looking to enhance their data-driven decision-making capabilities. We also advocate the use of analytics for civic responsibility through training, consulting and education.
As citizens of this great democracy, we need to look at the data (analytics), plan a course of action (strategy) and share our data-driven viewpoints (presentation). This approach to a data savvy work force starts in school. So, we started an internship program to empower our youth to use Analytics, plan Strategy and Present their insights… ASP!
When not training current and future analysts, you can find Dan championing the use of analytics to empower data-driven citizenship. His latest causes include supporting a 3rd Party initiative called the Service America Movement — SAM (joinsam.org), a non-profit providing legal assistance for immigrants known as RAICES and (raicestexas.org) and Immigrant Families Together — an effort to unite immigrant families (www.facebook.com/ImmigrantFamiliesTogether).