How to Build an Analyst Team – My First Presentation at eMetrics Chicago

by Ed Finn

Yesterday, I had my first speaking gig at eMetrics Chicago. A team member and I flew down and surrounded ourselves with peers, strangers, and old friends to talk about the problems we are struggling with, the ideas in our rear-view mirrors, and speed bumps we anticipate next.

There were a lot of good speakers, but my personal favorites were:

Kuntal Goradia – Practical explanations of how to analyze customer experience. This woman is a veteran of the war against crappy websites.

Gary Angel – More of a rant than a presentation, Gary is happy to let you see his frustration at the absence of data in key decision-making.

Adrian Vendor – This was my first time meeting Adrian, but I loved that his presentation summarized very practical means of leveraging CRM to report with better KPIs (leads closed, instead of lead forms).

Tim Wilson – Arguably stole the first day, suggesting that the future of analysts rests in at least some portions of data science and his experiences therein.

Jennifer Vessenmeyer – The most honest person in the room, Jennifer left everyone with practical communications advice and more than a few tears in their eyes (yes, really).

Jim Sterne – As always Jim ran an excellent event. His presence at these events always ensures questions are asked and people are laughing.

My own presentation was about running a team of analysts. As a subject, I was not certain it was appropriate for an analytics summit, but conversations throughout the event taught me that a lot of people want to hire analysts and are curious to hear how they can evolve into a manager. I had a much larger turnout than I expected and my choice of topic seemed to be vindicated.

My presentation focused on two main sections:

The first section focused on how I became a manager, and why general managers don’t usually work out for leading an analyst team. This seemed to hit home, especially among the analysts that currently work for large companies. Many of them end up inside a department that doesn’t understand their work. As a result they seemed to identify with my assessment that people with no context don’t know how to prioritize analyst work.

The second section focused on the critical lessons I learned, in chronological order, since my promotion to Team Lead. The last two lessons in particular seemed to resonate well with the audience (those being ‘formal scheduling of work’ and ‘stop being reactive’, respectively). These ideas represent the two subthemes of my second section – critical infrastructure and shifting your perspective of what your job is actually about (managing a team; not analyst production work anymore).

Ultimately, I don’t believe I taught everyone how to build the organizational systems their teams will need or how to shift their perspective, but I believe I helped them understand what each of those things means and why they need to happen.

I await feedback eagerly – both to know whether the material felt relevant and to know whether I presented that material well. While we await formal comments being activated on our shiny new blog (soon!), I encourage you to reach out to me on LinkedIn to chat.

I have never left a conference with more actionable knowledge than I did yesterday. I can’t wait to leverage it.

Ed Finn

Senior Practitioner, Analysis

Ed’s passion is turning data into knowledge. As a Senior Practitioner on Napkyn's Analyst Team, Ed is responsible for driving the strategic direction behind some of our largest and most complex programs.

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