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 a given weekday afternoon, you can find Cindy Batang working from the parking lot of a golf course while her younger daughter practices her swing.
She did the same thing for her older daughter. That dedication paid off not just for that daughter, who now plays college golf, but also for Cindy's career. She rose through the ranks of Zynga while raising two children, and is now the Manager of Governance, Risk, and Compliance at the gaming company.
"You learn how to multitask," says Cindy of managing both her work and her home life over the last decade at Zynga. "You find a way to get everything done."
Cindy started her career at Zynga in IT, then transitioned into security and then into management. Over the years, her daughters have worked on her lap while she fixed computers, begged to come into the office to play the arcade games, and "grown up at Zynga," says Cindy.
We sat down with her to learn more about that path, as well as how she juggles being a working parent—and what parts of Zynga's culture, including their flexible work policies and their parent-focused ERG, zParents, have supported her throughout the years.
Finding Fulfillment in Tech
Cindy and her husband have been married for 22 years and together for even longer. She credits him with a lot of what she loves about her life—including getting her into tech.
While she was still in college, he suggested that Cindy take a Windows certification course. Even though Cindy had been exposed to computers from an early age—her dad built them at home (and, when he lived in Nicaragua, also had his own shop where he would rebuild radios and TVs)—it wasn't something she considered exploring as a kid. "It's kind of funny to me that his hobby became my job," says Cindy of her dad's influence.
Cindy took the course and ended up getting a contract IT job, then leaving school to enter the workforce full-time. This was right as the dot-com bubble was heating up, she says, and when the economy crashed a few years later, right as Cindy and her husband welcomed their first daughter, Cindy decided to leave tech for a bit and become a real estate agent.
"I felt like I needed more time with her, and I couldn't do that with a nine-to-five," she explains.
In that job, Cindy recognized how much she loved working with people. But when the real estate market crashed, too, she decided she'd go back into tech—but ideally in a more flexible, more people-facing role.
She got started in a contract tech support role, then worked for a small gaming company where she really enjoyed the more laid-back culture. As a big Words With Friends fan, she'd heard of Zynga, and when someone in her husband's network said Zynga was looking for IT support analysts, she applied.
Because she'd been at a much smaller company where she wore a lot of hats, Cindy quickly took on a management role on Zynga's team. She worked in access control, which gave her exposure to Zynga's security team. She knew the company's CSO and told him she was interested in learning more about cybersecurity—and had another new role a few weeks later.
"He fast-tracked things and created a position for me as a security analyst," she says. "I wasn't expecting that!"
Cindy credits her diversity of experiences at Zynga with the long-lasting career fulfillment she's found there. "One of the reasons I've been here for so long is that I haven't been doing the same thing for ten years," she says. "I've been able to grow and expand. Now I'm in management, I'm able to take what I've learned and work with my team to give them that same kind of flexibility."
Experiencing a Family-Friendly Work Environment
Cindy's daughters were three and nine when she joined Zynga, and now they're in high school and college, respectively. As her career evolved, Cindy says she always felt like her family was welcome at work.
"I'd bring them to the office, especially when I was working in support and didn't have somebody to watch them," she says. "Zynga was a big playground for them, with the pool table and the snacks. My managers never had any issue with me bringing them to work as long as I got the job done."
"[My kids] would ask me, 'Mom, can I go to work with you?'" remembers Cindy, smiling.
Beyond an open and kid-friendly office, Cindy enjoyed getting to set her own hours. If she needed to take an hour off to do school pick-up, she was able to finish her day at home later in the evening. "I liked that they let me step out and understood that at the end of the day, I'd get the job done," she says.
She also took full advantage of zParents, Zynga's ERG for working parents.
"zParents events were the highlight of [my kids'] day," says Cindy. "When the opportunity came up for volunteers, I immediately jumped on board." She currently plays a leadership role for the ERG, which includes putting on family friendly events and supporting employees by sharing available company resources.
Over the pandemic, zParents expanded to Zynga's global offices with virtual resource-sharing and events. "In our Slack channel, you'll find a very active parent support group," says Cindy. "From new parents asking for advice on how to get babies to sleep through the night to parents asking for help with complicated math homework!"
It's the community that Cindy values most when it comes to finding support at work. "When you have your first child, you don't know what to expect. You don't know what's going to happen. You have this life that relies on you heavily, and it kind of stresses you out," she says. "But you know what? It's okay. We've all been new parents and you figure it out."
4 Tips for Paying it Forward as a Manager of Working Parents
Now that Cindy's own children are older, her day-to-day is a little easier to manage (golf practice parking lot laptop sessions aside).
She knows that's not the case for her whole team, though.
"I know that things come up at the last minute, so I focus on giving [employees] the flexibility that I also received," says Cindy. "I encourage people to take the time with their kids, because they're only young for so long. Work will always be here, you know? It's important to spend time with your family."
Cindy also shares advice with working parents on her team, including:
- The importance of communication. Cindy highlights that this should go two ways: communicating with your kids, and letting them know you're there to support them and that they come first even if work responsibilities need to be worked around; and communicating with your management, to set expectations upfront around schedules and flexibility.
- Spend time wisely. There will always be more work than there are hours in the day, says Cindy, who suggests making daily and weekly priority lists and tracking project deadlines against them.
- Don't compare yourself to other working parents. "It may seem that other parents have everything under control. But don't compare yourself. Everybody has different circumstances and a different style of how they manage things. What works for them may not work for you."
- Take care of yourself, too. "People struggle with trying to take care of everybody else and then they fail to take care of themselves," she says. "If you need downtime, take a nap, read a book, go for a walk, do something just for yourself. Something as simple as that can change your perspective for the rest of the day."
She would add one more tip: apply for a role at Zynga! "This is a great company to be at for raising kids," she says. "I can't speak highly enough about the ways that Zynga enables you to be able to manage your work-life balance."
Bekah Nye isn't particular about pronouns.
"I honestly don't care if anyone calls me sir, he, they, she. I don't care what someone calls me at this point; I don't feel like I need to label myself for anybody else," says the Manager of Business Operations at mobile game developer Zynga.
Bekah realized she was nonbinary when her younger sister saw that an actor had recently come out as nonbinary and asked Bekah what it meant. (Bekah is fine with people addressing her with "she/her" pronouns, as that's how she presents, so that's what we'll use in this piece.)
"As I was reading about it, I realized, 'This is me.' I was explaining about the actor and myself at the same time," shares Bekah. "I don't need to identify as non-binary to identify as who I am, though. I'm simply trying to be myself to the fullest, and it's come naturally along the way."
After growing up in a religious household and navigating the impact it had on her identities, Bekah came out as bi in high school, and now prefers to identify as queer—though she still has a strong aversion to labels.
"Labels are important; I understand the use of them," she says. "They're very important for us to be able to communicate with each other because otherwise we don't know how. But trying to fit that label into a box has been difficult."
Bekah has realized that she does best in environments without boxes. And that's exactly what she found at Zynga when she joined four years ago.
Finding the right environment for her
Bekah first heard about an opening at Zynga via a close friend. "I got this text, 'There's a position open that's perfect for you, send me your resume this second!'" remembers Bekah.
That's how she got in the door—but she didn't take the job just for a chance to work with her friend.
First, Bekah wanted a more flexible workplace, one that wouldn't ding her if she arrived ten minutes past her usual time. She liked Zynga's relaxed and non-micromanaging approach to work culture.
Second, she wanted a place where she felt like she could really be herself. "I had a little bit of whiplash from past managers; I hadn't really had a good long-term manager up to that point," she said.
She got a good first impression from her would-be manager at Zynga, and it turned out to be right. "He saw my potential and my personality and simply kept encouraging it," she says. "I realized that Zynga was a safe space to be. It helped me realize that I can allow my personality to come out safely without fear of my job, and in turn that's what helped me feel more comfortable in coming out in the LGBTQ world."
Feeling safe at Zynga and confident in her work skills helped Bekah feel confident in who she was, and in communicating that to her team. Now Bekah is out at work and has joined Z Pride, Zynga's LGBTQIA+ ERG.
And she's excited to share her experience with others and to let them know there's room for them at Zynga, too. Even doing this interview is an example of that.
"Somehow, I made it through the obstacles and hardships of my early life. Somehow, I made it here. I'm at Zynga with awesome benefits, a good-paying job and amazing coworkers. How can I not use this platform to speak from the rooftops of what a human-being can accomplish?" she asks.
Navigating a world of labels
Bekah recently applied for a home loan. When she filled out the paperwork, she decided to leave the gender section of the application blank. She'd heard how single women got offered worse APRs than single men. "I didn't want to be treated any differently based off the gender I was assigned at birth," she says.
She's run into the limitations of gender at work, too. Bekah is currently mentoring two young women, one of whom is a new manager; in a recent meeting, Bekah gave her advice she'd been given earlier in her own career: "Be more assertive."
"She straight out asked me, 'But what if I don't want to be?' I had never thought about that before. I'd been working so hard to fit in that I automatically did away with being softer; I was more assertive so I could actually speak at meetings, so I could properly represent myself," says Bekah. "I'm still mulling about how women can come up in an industry that is male-dominated and still keep their feminine sides while still being heard and working effectively in the workplace. I don't have a good answer for that right now."
When it comes to asking about gender identity, whether at work, at the bank, or in life, Bekah generally believes in letting people define for themselves how much they'd like to share. For example, a manager might be well-intentioned in asking everyone in a meeting to share their pronouns, but that can put some people in an uncomfortable position.
"Asking people to share their pronouns in a way is asking them to out themselves," says Bekah.
One of the issues Bekah has with labels like man/woman or straight/bi/pan is that they mean something different to different people. "Take gender fluid—I understand what gender fluid means to me, but I don't fully understand what it means to everybody else. With that being said, I don't know if I can take that label because I don't know how others define it," she explains.
4 ways to find the right space for you
Bekah has some advice for people who might be struggling with expressing their full identities at work:
- Be true to yourself. "It's going to make you a hundred times more comfortable than anything else," says Bekah. "You're the only person you have to live with for the rest of your life. You have to put up with yourself, whether you like it or not. So be true to yourself first."
- "You don't have to share if you don't want to." Bekah urges "patience, empathy, and understanding, not just with self, but with others too, because you can't expect everybody to be the same."
- Create a safe space for yourself first. "Maybe you can't have a safe space outside of your home or in a work environment, or maybe it's even hard to find a safe space in your home, but there's always the opportunity to find a safe space within yourself," she says. She suggests trying activities like meditation, yoga, swimming, drawing, or breath work to find an outlet for emotion. Bekah's personal favorite is singing, particularly Beyoncé's "If I Were a Boy." "I usually think, 'It's too quiet, it's not going to affect me.' Two minutes later I will be singing at the top of my lungs, tears running down my cheeks. Singing really helps," she says.
- Be patient. "Don't let go of either a dream or who you are. In time, things will change, and things will shift," she says. "Consistency and determination will always win in the end."
Watch time: 3:12
Are you looking to pursue a career in gaming?
Press play to get an inside look at Zynga's interview process and company culture. In this video, Senior Recruiter Katherine shares some top-notch tips on how to ace your Zynga interview and make your application stand out. If you're ready to delve into the world of gaming, check out Zynga's open roles here.
Zynga Interview Tips
Each role at Zynga requires a different type of preparation, so make sure you read the job description thoroughly so you can know exactly what the interviewer is looking for. Here are some of Katherine's favorite tips:
- Do your research: get to know the company before you have your first interview.
- Ask for clarification: don't be afraid to ask questions in the interview so you can know exactly what the interviewer is asking you.
- Know the product: play Zynga games to get familiarized with the product you will potentially be working with.
Get to know Katherine
Katherine Moser has been working at Zynga for over three years and has nearly five years of experience in recruiting. She performs full cycle recruiting for Product, Data, UA, Marketing, G&A as well as technical roles at Zynga, Natural Motion and Gram Games. Supporting our San Francisco, Austin, Toronto, London, Helsinki, and Israel locations (and remote as well!).
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, the company is headquartered in San Francisco with studios in the U.S., Canada, U.K., Ireland, India, Turkey and Finland.
To learn more about Zynga and their open roles, click here.