A Stroke of Luck with Big Data

I’ve been a data-driven marketer since the days it was known as market research. For any of you that may be one of my lucky 83 followers on Twitter, that first line may sound familiar. With a medium that allows me more than 140 characters, I thought I’d elaborate on my history with data a bit.

I elected for the safe route in undergrad (Go Tribe!) and decided to do a business major after a failed attempt at computer science. I took all of the basic required courses: accounting, finance and—let’s not forget about one of the most useful courses I’ve ever taken—one completely focused on proficiency in the Microsoft Office Suite. Believe it or not, the learnings from that course have done me quite well.

Of those required courses, two immediately clicked for me: Business Statistics (shout out to Professor O’Connell!) and Marketing 101. Statistics just made sense— the way data could tell a story; the concept that you could find relationships and make predictions just from a set of numbers; that by drawing three parallel lines you’ve conveyed not just a relationship between data sets, but also a confidence interval into which any predicted next point may fall.

I’m romanticizing a bit. . .but, for the record, the best story told by data to this day is . I’m getting burned out on “infographics” as of late mostly because a majority of them aren’t data visualtizations at all. Anyone agree?


I digress. . .when it came to marketing, I was first attracted to the idea of advertising. In particular, it was one ad from Columbia Sportswear that attracted my attention years ago. I thought it was genius.

I then took my first market research course—mind you there were a total of twelve people in the class—and a light bulb went off. I could make a career out of statistics and marketing. I did what any person would have likely done 15 years ago and researched all of the top market research firms. Soon after graduation, I found myself working at none other than The Nielsen Company.

I lasted there for seven years, which in Bay Area terms seems to be a lifetime.   I started off in Chicago and took a job transfer out to San Francisco. I could not have made a better move. Something started happening in the industry over that time. Data was showing up everywhere and marketing was becoming one of the most influential departments in organizations. I’d hit the jackpot.

There was even an published several years ago saying that data analysts/statisticians were the new sexy career. While I’ll take the compliment, I couldn’t agree more because I also ended up .

So I now find myself in a very hot career having bopped around a number of analytics and data software companies. I’m going to ride this wave while I can, but the industry is ever changing so I don’t want to have too much hubris. Who knows what the next sexy new career might be? Any guesses?