Written by Ari Yeganeh
How I got started in Data Analytics
Growing up I never liked wearing school uniforms. I could never find a shirt or pants that quite fit and it always seemed like my parents were getting me clothes that would fit me ‘next year’.
Hence my impression of adults working in offices was always a little unflattering.
After school I went to university and studied Applied Finance and Actuarial Studies – a double degree that deals with statistics, business and the world of banking and insurance.
Straight after university, I got into data analytics in marketing. From there, the technology and startup companies I worked at, cared more about what I did, rather than how I dressed. So luckily I never had to wear a suit and tie to work.
“Casual Fridays” often applied throughout the week; and it wasn’t uncommon to find the odd flip flops and shorts on hot summer days. The typical office environment I worked in, looked more like this:
What is “data”?
Before we can understand what a Data Analyst does, we need to understand what data is.
In simple terms, data is information, measurements, or observations about an event, object or person. For example, your height is a single data point about you. Other key data points are your age and your gender.
In the last few years with the advent of new technologies and cheaper computer storage, we have been able to collect more and more information about ourselves, our businesses and the environment which we live in.
It’s estimated, more data has been produced in the last 2 years than the entire recorded history of humanity!
Just in your own pocket, your smartphone collects thousands of data points every day. These include your location (GPS), light sensor, WifI and Bluetooth usage, call logs, screen unlocks and much more. Here is a chart giving you an idea of how quickly the growth in mobile data traffic has been in the last decade.
That’s the story of data in a nutshell; now onto how people like me use data as part of their jobs.
What does a Data Analyst do?
The biggest part of my job as a Data Analyst was to translate raw data into useful insights. And because there is so much data like we discussed earlier, I got to work in a wide range of different businesses.
Here are some examples of common problems I would work on:
- A large supermarket wants to know how to find more customers to use its online store
- A marketing agency wants to know how to improve advertising spend to find customers for its clients more affordably
- A real estate company wants to find a way to automatically price a house without sending valuers to inspect it
- A large online retailer wants to send its customers relevant products they may like to purchase
A typical day in the life of a Data Analyst
The work I did in data analytics varied a lot, but a typical day involved:
- 9am-5pm weekdays generally
- 50-70% desk time, figuring out a problem, coding or putting together presentations
- 10-20% in meetings with others in my team and general company meetings
- 5-10% traveling and presenting at client offices (sometimes interstate or overseas)
There is certainly a lot of desk time working as a data analyst. Luckily, bean bags and standing desks have become very common in offices over the last few years.
What environments do Data Analysts work from?
Working in data analytics has surprisingly taken me to some very diverse places!
Although commonly, data analysts work from the office, it’s not uncommon to travel for work and meet with clients and other team members in different offices. Think of this as a yearly or quarterly vacation from the usual office environment.
Some of the memorable places I’ve been to for work include:
- Brisbane: to present a new marketing strategy to a pizza company
- Auckland: to meet with property valuation companies
- Wellington: because why not? I was already nearby in Auckland!
- Mumbai: to work on a housing prediction model for a real estate company
- And lastly, my bedroom: because let’s face it, it’s so much more comfortable to work from home!
That last one is an important one to underscore. Working from home had become very common even before COIVID. Before the pandemic, it wasn’t uncommon to work 1 or 2 days from home as a data analyst. During the pandemic, I spent every day working from home. And after the pandemic, offices have started to allow staff to come in a couple of times a week.
As far as we can tell, it does look like remote working is only going to become more popular over time especially in professional services where it’s not a necessity to meet customers on a daily basis.
There is just one downside to working from home…
About the author:
Ari is a data science leader and co-founder of Purpose Project – a social enterprise that informs young people in Australia on the future of work and connects them to careers that are meaningful for them and consequential to the world.
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