For the majority of my childhood I was raised by a strong, smart and single woman. Balancing the responsibilities of one full-time job and the needs of four growing children could be considered a hopeless task as a solo act. Looking back and comparing my childhood home then to my life as a father now (with half the number of kids and twice the number of parents), I’m not really sure how she made it all look so easy.
For over 25 years, my mother was a human resources manager. As any HR pro can tell you, human resources is a profession that requires a certain level of patience and understanding but also demands toughness and an iron will, especially for a woman making her way in a man’s world. Her life then comprised a remarkable duplexity: she kicked asses by day and powdered them by night.
Man may work from sun to sun, but woman’s work is never done.
While her two worlds seemed galaxies apart — from EEOC claims and talent management seminars to homemade cookies and help with social studies homework — I honestly believe one role helped the other. The maternal instinct in her brought a nurturing approach to complicated and sometimes sensitive workplace issues. Her professional side brought about the “no nonsense” tone her kids knew to respect. While one might expect an obvious dichotomy between work and home life, I think there was actually a symbiotic union.
For this reason, I know she would have been an outstanding analytics professional.
Analytics as a profession demands a similar symmetry between one task to the next like mom showed. She took pieces of what she learned from home, carried it over to work and vice versa. Similarly, analytics consultants and in-house professionals might find common links from their two common roles: evaluator and experimenter. Every key finding from a review of metrics can potentially spawn a new experiment. Every experiment requires further evaluation and review. One hand feeds the other again and again.
I propose that evaluators and experimenters cannot go living separate lives. The analytics craft has evolved to one that demands a certain level of understanding and the fortitude to bring about change. The best analytics people with whom I have worked typically possess three important abilities:
Diagnosis – They seek out problem areas of a website, campaign or app.
Translation – They understand what is at the root cause of an issue and can determine what potential remedies exist.
Perseverance – They do not stop. I repeat — they do not stop.
Analytics is a never-ending pursuit of “better” — better metrics, better experience, better ROI for our websites and applications.
Marketing may work from campaign to campaign, but the analyst’s work will never wane.
Mom is still at it. While she no longer puts in long hours at a 8-to-6 gig and all her kids are grown and finally out of the house, she still provides HR consulting, and she is very involved in the lives of her grandchildren. Along the same lines, the analytics landscape is forever uncultivated. There are always more reports to scour, more experiences to evolve and more KPIs to improve upon. Some may call it job security. The smart ones will call it passion.