Are You a Data Analyst? Get These Top Tips on Effective Communication When Working Across Disciplines
💎 As a data analyst, you may already understand the importance of getting your message across when working with less technical disciplines. But do you know how you could improve your workflow to avoid mishaps? Don’t miss these tips on effective communication that will help your day-to-day work life!
📼 Play this video to get three top tips from data analyst Rosa Colom Teruel, Manager, Data Science and Analytics at Zynga, on effective communication when working with other disciplines.
📼 Tip #1: Focus On Potential. The first of these data analyst tips on effective communication is to focus on potential when pitching an idea. Before implementing a model, it's impossible to know how well it will perform or how much impact it will have on business KPIs. As scientists, it can be tempting to say, "We can't know," which is true. However, you often need to provide estimates to prioritize projects and decide which ones you believe in the most. In these cases, it's helpful to focus on potential. Instead of a definite number, you can provide a projection for the worst-case / best-case scenario, even if it requires some guesswork. Business units and product managers use estimates all the time, accepting that they could be proven inaccurate once implemented in the real world for multiple reasons. The important thing is to understand why and then take these learnings into the next project.
📼 Tip #2: Not All Technical Details Are Relevant. Next up for data analyst tips on effective communication: Science needs to be objective, detailed, and reproducible. Processes and results must be delivered in order, so peers can follow and review completed work. This fact is essential when sharing projects within your team. But if you are presenting to other disciplines, Rosa encourages you to focus on what's relevant for business decisions. For example, how will the project improve the business? What can we learn about players or customers? And what's the plan for the future? Everything else can go in a technical document or an appendix, optional to those interested in additional details.
Data Analyst Tips on Effective Communication - Last Tip!
Tip #3: Communicate Conclusions First. In school and university, you learned to present conclusions last, starting with a problem statement, showing methodology, discussing results, and finally drawing conclusions. Research shows that this is not the way that our brains consume information. It is more effective to present your findings first, followed by results and methodology last (or in an appendix, if not relevant to the audience). This approach may seem counterintuitive because it goes against the chronological order of the work. However, by starting with conclusions, you're going to grab the audience's attention, and they're more likely to remember the takeaways afterward. If you're communicating in writing, listing conclusions first will also help. Even if not everyone reads the whole document, they will still get those takeaways, and conversations will continue to move forward.
📨 Are you interested in joining Zynga? They have open positions! To learn more, click here.
Get To Know Rosa
Rosa is a Data Scientist with 8+ years of experience in the gaming/tech industry and 4+ years leading data science teams. Rosa has vast experience in defining a data science roadmap and analytics strategy that meet product needs.
More About Zynga
Zynga is a global leader in interactive entertainment with a mission to connect the world through games.
To date, more than one billion people have played Zynga’s franchises including, CSR Racing™, Empires & Puzzles™, Merge Dragons!™, Words With Friends™, and Zynga Poker™. Zynga’s games are available in more than 150 countries and are playable across social platforms and mobile devices worldwide.
Founded in 2007, Zynga is headquartered in San Francisco with studios in the U.S., Canada, U.K., Ireland, India, Turkey, and Finland.
On April 29th, PowerToFly hosted a live webinar with some women leaders at LogMeIn. The panelists dished out their best professional advice and industry insight.
Unfortunately, with such a large number of attendees, we weren't able to address all of your questions during the event, but the LogMeIn panelists took the time to write out responses to the questions we didn't get to.
So, if you attended and your question wasn't answered, take a look at the Q&A below to read the panelists' response to your question!
1. What are some data science initiatives at LogMeIn?
Molly: Our Data Scientists align to our Product Management, Business Operations, and Machine Learning departments in highly visible and influential roles that drive customer acquisition, retention, and innovation initiatives. While we don't have any current Data Scientist roles available, you can always refer to our career site for our latest openings: https://www.logmein.com/careers.
2. What are some examples of typical projects, business challenges, and go-to channels?
Kate: We are currently working on a strategy project to map the prospect/user journeys from end to end to reveal any disjointed content/copy experiences between email, web pages, and in-product content. Our copywriters are often busy doing research to update home page copy, features or products pages based on changes or updates within the products themselves– or writing new landing pages for campaigns!
3. At the moment, LogMeIn's executive leadership is still mostly made up of men; do you see that changing in the future? Are there paths for women to move up to the highest levels of the company?
Annie: As a company we are working to find more ways to retain, promote and hire women and others who are underrepresented in tech. This year we added one woman to our Executive Team who is leading our Marketing Team. Our Head of Technology started with the company a few months ago and she is also a woman. We have our first Global Head of Diversity, also a woman, and we are developing new initiatives to improve our representation of women and others who are from other underrepresented groups. This is a key focus area for our entire company.
4. As you are going through this incredible growth period, how do you make sure the organization stays efficient and flat without adding unnecessary layers and bureaucracy?
Molly: We do our best to incorporate our company values into our day to day behaviors and actions– Be Real, Think Big, Move Fast, and Keep Growing. These values are a great reminder to explore new ideas, identify and problem solve roadblocks, consider the customer in your decision making, and that consensus is not required to make decisions.
5. What is an ideal candidate according to you?
Kate: In hiring for my team my goal is always to hire people who are smarter/brighter/more passionate about their area of expertise than I am, and then get out of their way/clear their way to let them execute. Passion and temperament over the perfect resume/experience, and I look for an eagerness to keep growing/learning.
6. What's the biggest challenge that LogMeIn is facing now and in the near future?
Lisa: Competition is heating up for all our products so moving FAST is the critical so someone that likes to move fast, can be nimble and pivot quickly if needed and don't get frazzled or thrown with ambiguity. Secondly, finding top talent- we are in a war for talent right now given how HOT the web/eCom business is. So forum's like PTF is key to our success and ensuring we focusing on diversity and inclusion as we hire and bring people on to the team.
7. Do writers, designers, etc. tend to focus on just one product/site, or do they work across all of them?
Kate: In general they focus on one "product area" which can encompass up to 6 products. However, there is often opportunity to work on other sites/projects, or to switch between, if there's interest.
8. How do you build team collaboration in a remote environment, and what opportunities are available for professional development?
Kate: My team has a robust and familiar banter/chatter on our private slack channel, for one!! Additionally, I encourage everyone on my team to seek out conferences and training to attend – as well as propose topics or talks to give both internally and externally.
Learn more about LogMeIn's events and job openings.
Insights From Ciena's Mary Yang
"When I look back and think about what led me to the programs of study I chose, as well as some of the roles that I've taken on over the years, it all comes back to my interest in growth," Mary explains. "I was drawn to areas of study that would help me understand how to frame new opportunities better."
She explains that as an undergraduate student, she saw opportunities through an economics lens. "Then I went into engineering [to answer], 'How do you model that?'" She worked across what are now the fields of data science and econometrics to figure out "how the world is going to look different going forward," she says.
This passion for understanding growth and future opportunities—and her multi-disciplinary background—prepared her for her current role as Senior Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer at Ciena, the networking systems, services, and software company that supports infrastructure and optical networks around the world.
We sat down with Mary to learn more about how she's pursued growth opportunities throughout her career, and the people who've supported her along the way.
Understanding and anticipating innovation
Mary's career trajectory—from strategy consultant for new technologies to director of various departments at Cisco to VP of corporate development at NIO and now to her current role at Ciena—has always kept her on the cutting edge. "The opportunities that have drawn me in have all been about growing new technology areas," she says.
An early example of growth-seeking in action was Mary's experience doing business development for a video conferencing product in the early 2000s. "Back then, video was with a giant room system. It seemed to me that it should actually be ubiquitous, shown on your laptop," she says. The technology at the time didn't support that, but with her background in engineering, she knew that it would soon.
And since Mary's interest in understanding broader business issues and legal frameworks led her to get her JD/MBA at Stanford, she was well-positioned to see not just the technical opportunity to innovate, but also the business case, as well as some of the likely policy decisions that would impact an international rollout. "It became very exciting because I could see kind of where all those different trajectories, both from a business perspective as well as from a technology perspective, could come together to support something new," she says.
When working with new technology, whether it's the early-stage videoconferencing Mary worked on years ago or the network automation Ciena is handling now, it's vital to be able to navigate different frameworks, terminology, and people, says Mary. "I can talk to our lawyers, to the other side's lawyers; to engineers; to our chief architect," she explains. "The fact that I can have both sides of that conversation is very helpful."
Growing through and alongside others
Even the most interesting of intersectional problems or the most rigorous of academic backgrounds wouldn't have prepared Mary to navigate her career alone. For that, she's leaned on the people she's met and connected with along the way.
"A huge part of how you get to a leadership role and a huge part of being a leader is actually those relationships that you build along the way," says Mary. "[Throughout my career] I've always called a bunch of folks that I've known to ask them for their best practices."
In fact, it was the quality of the people at Ciena that convinced her to leave her old job. "I was just so impressed that the teams here are, incredibly, incredibly smart and also very, very open," she says. "And the culture is just world-class. Everyone is collaborative. They enjoy having fun, coming up with ideas together. For me, you can have the smartest people in the room, but if they're not interested in having that conversation, it's very difficult to move an idea forward."
Mary acknowledges that it's still rare to see a woman of color in a senior leadership role in the tech field, and that she's gotten as far as she has thanks to the help of others. "I have personally benefited as an employee through a lot of support for women, for people of color. I really appreciated that level of sponsorship, and that's why it was important to me to be able to provide that at Ciena," she says.
The support that she experienced throughout her career led Mary to want to pay it forward. When she joined Ciena in April, she became a sponsor of Ciena's Black and African Employee Heritage Group. "As an Executive Team, we knew we wanted to have a forum for conversations about race, equity and racial justice for our internal employee community," says Mary, who explains that the group used growing social consciousness about racism to create conversations and allyship within Ciena. She explains the three goals of the group's work over the last few months: first, to create an open forum to hear about issues, share thoughts, and educate Ciena employees; two, to give non-Black employees a chance to offer their allyship and understand what that means; and three, to increase visibility of high-potential Black employees and make sure they have the sponsorship and mentorship they need to succeed.
"I appreciate all the incredible work and the thoughtful work that they've put together over the years," says Mary. "It's been a huge privilege for me to be able to be part of that."
Learn about Ciena's open roles and how they support women, people of color, and other underrepresented groups in tech.
New York Life's headquarters is a gorgeous, gothic National Historic Landmark, located adjacent to the Flatiron District's scenic Madison Square Park. After over a decade of living in NYC, I was thrilled that my first time inside this legendary building would be for a PowerToFly event highlighting New York Life's data science and analytics leaders.
PowerToFly's event with New York Life was held on Thursday, October 25th, inside New York Life's Ben Feldman Auditorium. After guests navigated the ornate lobby, they were welcomed with delicious food and drinks and had the chance to network with both members of the New York Life data and hiring teams as well as their peers.
PowerToFly's CoFounder and President Katharine Zaleski started the night off by introducing New York Life's SVP/Head of Retail Life Alex Cook. "We are always finding ways to be collaborative because we know a diverse culture leads to innovative and new ways of thinking, which are critical to the future success of the company. I'm impressed that a company like ours that's been around since 1845 and is as large as we are, how quickly we're moving on multiple fronts. For example, in just the last two to three years we've built a 50-person Data Science Team We're also making a lot of investments in our infrastructure and our technology capabilities. We're now at a point where everywhere you look in the company, we're transforming something," explained Cook.
Alex went on to speak about how New York Life uses data in assessing mortality risk and the inherent challenges involved. "You don't know whether your calculations are accurate for 10, 30, even 70 years. It's a very difficult problem to solve and very intriguing from a data science perspective."
As Alex concluded, he introduced CVP, Advanced Analytics Rita Fuller who discussed New York Life's Data Science Academy which, as Rita describes it, "is a program with two educational tracks designed to increase knowledge of Data Science and Analytics for our employees.." The Data Science Academy is part of a cultural shift to generate greater understanding of data science and to create an environment in which New York Life data scientists can thrive. The program features two educational tracks. The technical track is for those who want to gain or improve your skillset in statistical modeling and machine learning. The business track introduces you to case studies involving analytic solutions to foster an analytical mindset. Rita then introduced an insightful short video that provided a better glimpse into a "day in the life" of the data team.
Next up, Katharine introduced our amazing panel of New York Life leaders which included Michelle Bottomley, SVP & Chief Marketing Officer; Glenn Hofmann, VP & Chief Analytics Officer; Mary Louie, CVP & Lead Data Scientist and Beth Schumacher, CVP Human Resources/Training. Our experienced panel discussed their latest projects, how they keep current on the latest tech trends and dove a bit deeper into their individual career journeys. The formal programming for the evening ended by opening up the floor to questions from the audience.
But the night wasn't over yet! Our attendees had plenty of opportunities to network with the panel, members of the New York Life team and each other before the evening eventually drew to a close. As they exited, our guests were greeted with a complimentary copy of a book to remember the evening by. All in all, this was a fabulous New York evening with an iconic New York company.
Follow New York Life on PowerToFly to learn more about their open roles.