My Journey to becoming a Product Analyst
In different stages of my life I would imagine myself to be a journalist, an art authentication expert, a dancer, an architect, a PR manager, a marketing manager, a vinologist — in chronological order. Basically, anything but a profession related to numbers or maths. But hey, here I am — a product analyst from Georgia, the country.
Only in the last 2 years of high school did I realise that I was actually enjoying solving maths problems. So, I pushed myself to pick it up really quickly to apply for a Bachelor in Economics and Business Administration. Up until then, I thought it was almost impossible to be as good in numbers as guys were. When I finally managed to get a place in my favourite university on a scholarship, I was still doubting myself — one part of me was still questioning the decision of not choosing humanities. Luckily, immersing myself in Italian culture and learning the language helped to fill in the missing puzzle.
Curiosity for discovering new things and enthusiasm of working with a team led me to one of the biggest start-up events that was held at my university in Georgia by Estonian representatives. That was my AHA moment to become one of those tech lovers. It became a tradition for me and my friends to attend hackathons and start-up competitions to hang out together, to have fun and to build products that would bring value to society. At hackathons I usually had the role of a business/product/marketing person that worked with our engineer to find solutions to specific problems.
In hindsight, at all of my workplaces, whether it was in the public sector at FAO, politics and statistics departments of the Ministry, or in the private sector as a digital marketing specialist or a PR manager — data has always been an integral part of my everyday work routine. In all the positions I have held I was using the numbers to show the performance of my work or to simply deliver the research findings.
Jumping from one job to another and trying to find my passion, I ended up in Tartu, Estonia, pursuing a Masters in Innovation and Technology Management. Surprisingly, I chose to live in a country with minus infinity during the winter (yeah, summer is cold as well) and to study tech instead of Vinology in my beloved Italy. That’s how the love story between me and R and all the algorithms started. But again, I had never considered using it in my future workplace — Wise, the place where I have been working, growing, living, making friends for almost 4 years now.
I remember when two Wisers organised a hackathon at the university. I remember they sounded super passionate about solving customers’ problems, and that they brought a lot of pizza — of course. I applied to the hackathon (even though at that time I wasn’t super familiar with the fintech world), got accepted and immediately decided I wanted to work at Wise. It seemed like a dream workplace where you could work in an environment of plush unicorns, amazeballs and office dogs. I was beyond happy to join the company’s Italian Customer Support team. From there, eventually I was suggested to join the Business team instead and I happily agreed.
My perception of customer support has drastically changed from my very first day at Wise. It was not only answering customers’ calls or sending emails cold heartedly, but being able to establish a very close relationship and making sure their issues were well heard and considered throughout the company.
As a side project I worked with the Product Security team to understand customer problems and to build a bridge between the Customer Support and the Product team. The latter didn’t have a dedicated analyst nor did we have much data about customer contacts. So whenever the team asked me “how many customers had a problem about this or that?” I had to find a way to gather that information manually to somehow validate my assumptions. Slowly I started building data pipelines and reports for the team and eventually joined them as a Product Analyst. It took me a while to establish myself in a team full of engineers and being the only female member. I need to admit that sometimes it was hard not to get intimidated by their technical knowledge. It challenged me, but also gave me confidence to deliver stories that were engaging for the whole team.
Currently I am working with the Business Convenience team to understand the needs of high value business customers and address identified opportunities with relevant product solutions. Moving to a new team brought on a new challenge of understanding the new domain in a male dominant environment. But this time it was much simpler to get everyone onboard with data insights, research findings and make the data speak by itself.
To me this year’s theme #BreakBias in a workplace means being brave in sharing ideas confidently and making sure that everyone’s work is assessed fairly and equally.
Fun fact — while brains of both genders process the same neurochemicals, it’s scientifically proven that men’s brains tend to have stronger front-to-back connections. On the other hand, women’s brains have better side-to-side connections leading to better intuitive thinking, analysing and drawing of conclusions. And those are all the core skills you need to be a great analyst.
No matter where you’re standing now — if you have the simplest dataset, you can be so much more powerful in making changes in whatever domain you choose. The beauty of working with data is that you can express all your creativity with visualisations, with the way you build the logic or tell the story.
Data is an object and it’s in your power to use the object to destroy subjective opinions.
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