Marketing Analyst Interview

For this post, I interviewed a professional Analyst about her experiences in the field and to gather advice for entering the field myself. Below is a summary of the interview with my final thoughts and conclusions about entering the Analytics field as well as her advice about the profession.

Contact Information:

My contact is Sara Pitterle who is the creator of the Retail Marketing Analytics Program at UMD and has worked as a Marketing and Business Analyst for around 30 years.

How did you enter the Analytics Field?

Sara was working for NCR as a Sales Representative and was seeing all of this information about difficulties with machines, but the information was never being used to solve the problem. This lead her to pursuing a master’s degree at the University of Madison in Marketing Research where she was in the AC Neilson program. this lead her to her first job working on a project for General Motors and eventually led to her career in Australia.

How did you end up Teaching Analytics?

While working in Darwin, Australia, her job was focusing on tourism. Meanwhile, the University in Darwin needed someone to teach a marketing class related to the effect of tourism and her network allowed the University to find her. She taught one class per semester until 2001. Then, contacts from when she was in the AC Neilson program at Madison reached out to her mentioning a position they thought she was suited for teaching at UMD. Once at UMD, she helped to create the ReMAP program as an undergraduate version of the courses she took at Madison.

What was your most memorable Analytics Project?

Sara told me a story about the most interesting project she’s worked on during her time working in Australia. The project was regarding public health and travel and included qualitative research and resulted in recommendations for a public health campaign.

What do you hope to gain by re-entering the field in the next couple years?

Sara stressed that the field is continuously evolving and she wants to make sure that she is up-to-date on current tools and ways to analyze data. She’s interested in learning more about R and expanding her knowledge in unstructured data and sentiment analysis.

Can you tell me a little bit about written work you’ve experienced in Analytics?

Sara stressed that while written reports have been a part of the jobs she’s held, there is much more stress on oral presentations with power point supplements. She stressed the importance of trust as an Analyst in the company and proving your credibility by being truthful about any situations that may impact your analysis. For Analytics related business reports she said to keep them, “Short, sharp, and accurate,”.

What is the most challenging part of writing an analytics report?

Sara has stressed that conveying data is often difficult and should be done as clearly and precisely as possible. She emphasized the importance of conveying potential causes of your findings as well as risks with implementing recommendations.

How much of Analytics is written versus oral presentation?

Sara said that written work is a part of the job but is not the main form of communicating findings. She stressed that oral presentations and power point presentations are the main ways she’s conveyed data and her findings because it requires showing numerous tables and graphs that are more easily explained in person where the audience can ask questions.

What is the most common things that graduates of the ReMAP program come to you needing advice for?

Sara explained that since privacy and data security is always a concern with analytics, she doesn’t get many statistical or method questions regarding alumni’s projects. However, she said that when past students do come to her for advice it is usually concerning interpersonal issues such as next steps in their career or dealing with a difficult manager. Finally, she noted that since the ReMAP program has always had a high percentage of female graduates in this male-dominated industry. Unfortunately, students have come to her asking for advice on issues of sexism and harassment in the workplace asking for help on how to approach the issue as they see her as a successful female Analyst in the field.

What are some ways that you recommend conveying the type of work your students are familiar with, and explaining projects without breaching privacy?

Sara noted that companies, especially during interviews, know that data privacy is an issue when applicants are explaining their experience. She said to emphasize the programs you are familiar with and the techniques you’ve used, but not to share any recommendations. She also offered that providing a hypothetical example of how you would approach a project would be a useful way to approach an interview.

Do you have any last tips for someone entering into the Analytics Field?

Sara said that networking is especially important in Analytics. She’s found, and has seen with her contacts as well, that Analysts often have to apply and interview “cold” for a position the first time. She mentioned how networking with colleagues and at conferences can help to grow your career as people will think of you for new projects and positions that open up. She also mentioned that while linkedin is a great tool, face-to-face communication is still very important, especially in building trust as well as conveying your interest in learning.

During this interview I learned that Analytics is even more of a growing field than I thought before. The opportunities and ways of analyzing data is growing exponentially and is opening up many new career opportunities, especially involving unstructured data such as text. I was surprised about her in-depth experience with the public health project and how involved she was not only in the data gathering process, but in understanding the people and the actions she was studying. This interview made me even more excited to enter the Analytics field and to see what opportunities are available in the next year. Going forward, I will try to emphasize my networking skills by attending conferences and creating relationships with people that I encounter within the profession.