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Dive into Data: A Career in Digital Analytics

As part of our “Dive into Data” initiative, we aim to change the misconception about what it takes to break into and build a long-term career in the data industry.

As part of this, we’d like to showcase the many avenues and routes, far beyond the perception that it’s all about being a maths or science genius and how data brilliance is also fuelled by creative and business orientated minds. It’s about taking data, putting it into context and telling a story.

Specifically, we’d like to feature the background and career journey of Sam Berger, Digital Analyst at Shelter, a brilliant example that shows how unconventional backgrounds can lead to a career with data at the core.

Our chat here, to feature a real life example of getting into data and how a career path within that field can unfold….

ADLIB: To summarise, what are your main responsibilities as a Digital Analyst?

Sam Berger: It’s varied – but essentially I look after Shelter’s website analytics, providing teams with analytics and insights. This can be anything from tracking campaign success and event sign-ups, to monitoring how users engage with online help and web chat functionality.

ADLIB: What’s your career background and what has been your journey to lead you to this point?

Sam Berger: Like a lot of analysts I meet, I kind of fell into the role. I worked as a freelance theatre director for around ten years and during times when I wasn’t working I did various temp jobs where I would organise data sets in Excel. Through this experience I started doing analysis, and after a while found myself working as a full-time data analyst. One of the nice things about analytics work is that it is transferable across a wide range of industries, so I’ve worked for website publishers, architects, sporting organisations and now, a charity.

ADLIB: What do you like most about your job? How does it go “beyond” data?

Sam Berger:

The variety of work is always interesting, and the ability to surprise and challenge people is always fun. Beyond data, I am a big fan of design and making things look good – so I certainly take my time trying to make things looks as appealing as possible. I think this is important because often data can be seen as dry and uninteresting – good design does half the work in communicating your findings by engaging people from the outset.

ADLIB: Briefly, what does a “typical day” entail for you?

Sam Berger: I’m not sure a typical day exists! At my current job, we work within an Agile framework so there is always a stand-up first thing with the rest of the team. Typically, I’ll almost certainly be doing something in Google Analytics, PowerBI or Excel (sometimes all three!). There’ll usually be meetings with stakeholders at some point, and dealing with ad hoc requests are fairly commonplace too.

ADLIB: And finally, what do you see as the top 3 skills it takes to become a Digital Analyst?

Sam Berger:

  1. Mastering as many tools as your brain can hold in number one – as a starter I’d say you need Google Analytics, or something similar. GA Is great as it’s free and there is a seemingly endless supply of help articles, videos and forums out there for someone learning it.
  2. Secondly, I think being able to consider your analytics works from the end-user’s point of view is an often overlooked skill. People generally don’t care that you’ve spent two days trawling data lakes, and crunching huge sets of numbers – they want results that can help them in their job. Being able to put all that stuff aside and give simple, actionable results is key to being a good analyst…and make it look nice too, please!
  3. Finally, and perhaps a bit boringly, communication is a key skill for the analyst. This includes number two above, but also being able to make complicated processes and ideas compelling and meaningful is extremely important. Communication is also key at the outset of projects – being able to ascertain exactly what people are after, and ensuring everyone understands what you’re going to do and deliver back to them is a great way to ensure your time is used effectively and the work you do is as efficacious as possible.

Thanks so much for sharing, Sam!