How I became a Product Analyst
I find that most people have taken a unique path to analytics, as it’s a relatively new profession — but one that has exploded along with the big data revolution. For International Women’s Day, I’m sharing my journey to product analytics and Wise while #BreakingTheBias.
I was born in the Midwest United States to immigrants from China. Before I turned 10 years old, I lived in 5 different States, so I’m quite accustomed to change. We finally settled in Texas, which I still regard as my home 🤘. My father was a math professor and prioritized providing my brother and me a good education, so we had lots of exposure to numbers and logical problems early on. However, my parents held their own biases. My dad taught my younger brother all about stocks and encouraged him to build computers. My mother pushed me into dance lessons and wanted me to be a cheerleader (it didn’t happen 🙃). When I decided to study finance at university, my dad told me he didn’t think it was a good fit for me, and that maybe medicine might be better. Although they loved me and believed in me, they had preconceived notions of what interests and career paths would be most appropriate for me. I adore my dad, but this mentality kept me from expanding my view of what I was capable of sooner.
I ended up graduating with a Finance and Math degree, and I found that I enjoyed working in spreadsheets and solving problems with Excel formulas. However when I needed data for analyses, it always involved several back and forths with an engineer who could code, so eventually, I decided to teach myself SQL to cut out the middle man. I loved it. It was like a souped-up version of what I could do in spreadsheets. I learned that there was a whole nascent career path called Data Analytics. In my subsequent roles, I looked for opportunities to develop and hone skills that would help me down that path. I landed a Business Analyst role as a stepping stone. Eventually, I found I needed more guidance than what I could teach myself and enrolled in a Data Science Bootcamp. My eyes again were opened to the amazing, powerful worlds of Python and machine learning.
After a couple years officially working as a data analyst, I joined Wise as a product analyst in New York. I had been a Wise customer when I lived abroad and felt passionately about the product. I had also heard about the amazing working culture, where analysts don’t just hand off data to other people, but actually drive strategic decisions with their partners. I also wanted to learn from and work with other analysts, as I was the lone analyst in my previous company. In particular, this video below, filmed during a Wise Analyst Hackathon, really spoke to me.
These days, I help the North American squad develop growth strategies, better understand customer behavior for both businesses and consumers, and prioritize the most impactful projects we could work on. One of the projects I’m working on at the moment involves running a series of experiments to improve the customer experience of funding a transfer using a connected bank account. This is a popular, yet unique method when sending money using the US or Canadian dollar. The whole end-to-end process of brainstorming ideas, turning them into hypotheses to test, and finally finding out which experiments improve the customer experience is tangibly impactful and rewarding.
Having a diversity of perspectives is unbelievably important when you’re building products and solving problems for a diverse set of customers. You can always learn from mistakes or customer feedback down the line, but having an assortment of different viewpoints in the room where solutions are being discussed and built is more efficient and provides a better customer experience at the outset.
Women, in particular, bring certain strengths, whether that’s innate or due to how we’ve been brought up in this world. My father thought going into medicine would be a better career path for me, as women are typically seen as more empathetic and nurturing. These traits can be strengths in other fields as well. For example, by coaching and training the next generation of analysts or leading with a more customer-focused mindset.
No matter who you are or how you identify, you bring a unique perspective through your background, your experiences, and how you present to the world. As a racial minority in the US, I was raised to conform to the “majority” as a way to be accepted and to survive. In my chosen industry, I’m learning to celebrate my intersectionalities and what makes me different because they are valuable. Wise has not only been a safe space for this, but folks at Wise actively promote these types of discussions. Here, I am proud to work alongside many strong, intelligent, caring, and hard-working women that I truly admire. Won’t you join us in this revolution?