Saturday, November 14, 2009

Q&A with Andrea Wood, Visionary Strategic Analyst

Andrea Wood moved from New York to Montréal a couple of years ago where she joined as Senior Advisor, Research & Sales Optimization. I rarely do Q&A and profile highlights on this blog, but I'm making an exception for Andrea: her career path  demonstrates the role of analytics in one's job and how she grown from technical writer to a top job in analytics.
Andrea is a seasoned market analyst with extensive experience in strategy development and sales optimization. An energetic visionary and articulate communicator with a talent for looking beyond the numbers to develop and sell ideas, concepts and projects to senior leaders. A dynamic leader and mentor, fostering a team of highly analytical and innovative marketers in a changing marketplace.
SH) You have an impressive CV please tell us a bit about yourself.
AW) I’m a Montreal-based Analyst with a passion for high-tech and innovation. My willingness to jump headlong into new opportunities has allowed me to get involved with some pretty intense challenges.

SH) What was your career path to become a Senior Research Advisor at
AW) I started my career as a Technical Writer while at the University of Waterloo. I discovered the world of Analytics while working as a Technical Editor shortly after graduation. Since then I’ve worked in many different research roles that have all relied on my love of painting a clear, concise picture based on quantifiable data points. I’ve been with Canoe for the past 2.5 years, and was completely new to web analytics when I came on board. My experience in research provided a foundation on which to develop a strong aptitude for web analytics – but the learning curve was steep. Learning the new industry terms and methodologies took real focus.

SH) What role does analytics play in this type of job?
AW) At Canoe I’m responsible for developing and managing data-driven marketing and sales strategies. Quebecor owns many web properties, which we track each month using a detailed set of KPIs and dashboards. My role is to advise the executive, product managers and sales on market position, target demographics, and opportunities for product/campaign improvements. All of these tasks rely both on my knowledge of web analytics and on my background in competitive intelligence.

SH) What are the skills you think are important in your role?
  • Organization: the ability to prioritize ideas and concepts into logical groups allows me to identify issues and present strategies with clear, quantifiable explanations.
  • Interpersonal skills: the ability to listen to client’s needs and ask relevant questions ensures that a project is planned and a strategy delivered with the utmost efficiency. So many possible paths exist when looking at traffic patterns within the Quebecor network – I really need to keep a clear mind to ensure I am meeting the client’s requirements.
  • Interpretation: To me, the ability to translate data into a clear story the client will understand is of the utmost importance. So often I see the client starring blankly at a spreadsheet full of data. Often all that is needed to communicate an issue and solution in a few simple, graphic slides with a prescriptive note for a heading. This is where my background in writing comes in handy – I’m still a pretty good wordsmith.
SH) If you had to name the 3 books, websites, blogs or persons that had the most influence on your career, which ones would they be?
  • I’ve spent hours reviewing JS tags, developing procedures and creating dashboards/KPIs for this site. I came on board shortly after we began to implement Omniture as our web analytics solution, and have learned so much about best practices, solution management and training users.
  • Joe Wilcox: Joe is a bright and outspoken journalist and a former colleague from JupiterResearch. His ability to deliver insight in an entertaining and charismatic way is unparalleled. I consider Joe to be my mentor for all the support he has provided me. (SH: Visit Joe's blog at Oddly Together)
  • Digital Capital: This book marked my transition from Tech Writer to Research Analyst. I was hired by the author, Don Tapscott, to validate research sources and technical information, and gradually became a full-fledged contributor to his projects. (SH: Digital Capital by Don Tapscott)
SH) As a Senior Advisor of Research, web analytics might be just one aspect of your job. How do you see your expertise evolving in the future?
AW) The next obvious step is enhancing my knowledge of SEO/SEM to round out the web analytics profile. A real web analytics practitioner doesn’t just look at the numbers on the inside, but concentrates on a holistic approach to traffic performance and management. Improving product strategy and attracting external traffic go hand-in-hand.

SH) I’m offering you your dream job, what would it be?
AW) My ideal position is a client-facing role combining research, strategy development and product commercialization. I’d love to get more involved in product development and market entry – a more product marketing orientation.

See Andrea's complete profile on LinkedIn.
If you liked this post and would like to see more exceptional profiles, please let me know and don't hesitate to give names!