Employee Tuesday – What does a Team Lead Business Analytics do?

by Marie Terhechte

How would you describe your job as a Business Intelligence Analyst?

A Business Intelligence Analyst uses data and tools to produce insights that inform business decision-making. Our team’s role within the company is to enable and support operational departments such as B2B, Partner Management, Customer Care, and Finance in their use of data. This involves data mining, data analytics, data visualization and reporting. 

Business Intelligence Analysts decipher riddles, and I see analytics as problem-solving with a visible impact. BI and analytics is an important part of business operations and my role is to collect data and apply analytical methodologies to it, and do my best to implement creative solutions. 

An example of a common BI task is re-calculations. As our data shifts and evolves over time, us humans occasionally get stuck thinking the definitions, groupings, and calculations we used 5 years ago still apply in our current market. It’s BI’s job to remain unbiased and use data and machines to prove business processes, instead of human perception. That’s just an example of one of our responsibilities. 

The role also entails explaining complex problems and creating stories out of jargon and confusing data tables. Story-telling simplifies the information, making it accessible to every department and providing a frame of understanding so everyone can align on a single goal. Telling these stories and finding solutions to improve our business is something I find very satisfying – just like finishing a complicated sudoku puzzle. 

You faced many challenges as a result of the pandemic. What were the main challenges and how did you deal with them?

The main challenge was adapting to and keeping up with the constant changes in the company. 

Everything happened so quickly, up was down and down was up. Like many teams and companies we had to move quickly, and I found the way the company adapted admirable in every department.

Working from home was a new experience and definitely impacted how the team communicates and relates to one another. We lost the ‘watercooler chats’ that helped us bond and replaced them with complaints about WiFi and noisy neighbours who remodel their apartments while you’re in a meeting. The situation was strange and keeping motivation and morale high wasn’t always easy. 

But we adapted our expectations. We always want to deliver high-quantity and high-quality data and analytics, but in this situation the most important thing was to understand these weren’t normal times. Expecting exactly the same output alongside Kurzarbeit, strained resources, WFH, and the emotional corona-coaster was unrealistic. But despite these challenges, we did our best and I’m very proud and impressed by the resilience and dedication of my team.

A large part of your masters was focused on economics, finance and business strategy. How did you transition into a technical field like analytics? 

I didn’t know I wanted to get into BI and analytics – no 10-year old would say they want to be a business intelligence analyst when they grow up. But during my degree I was particularly interested in the business perspective of strategy and analytics and in my final year I developed an interest in the technical side of development as a means of exploring my analytical curiosity. 

After acquiring theoretical knowledge from statistics, mathematics, and business development from my degree I found BI. I applied my technical skills to SQL, Python, and Machine Learning and ran analyses within a data warehouse. 

What’s your biggest personal achievement? 

During the pandemic I completed my Group Fitness Trainer course. I was looking for a new challenge and something to push me out of my comfort zone. I learnt how to be a fitness trainer in German, which is not my first language, so I definitely pushed my limits. So a big personal achievement for me was leading a group of athleisure-clothed Berliners through an aerobics class shouting “Knie Hoch!” on several wet, grey mornings. It’s a strange contrast to my day-to-day work life, and a wonderful qualification to have.

Which Urban Sports Club value do you apply most often to your daily life? 

“Put yourself in the shoes of others.”

It’s a lot harder than it sounds and is essential for analysts as it helps us understand the perspectives of stakeholders and meet their needs. When you’re very close to the data and in a little data bubble, it’s easy to fall short. 

It’s crucial to understand what stakeholders, management and departments need from a non-technical human perspective so we can give them reliable and useful information. I’m sometimes guilty of forgetting that not everyone in the company is as close to the data as I am, and I constantly ask myself questions like ‘what does this department or stakeholder need?’, ‘why are we doing this analysis?’ and ‘does this analytical methodology actually add value to the department?’

I also understand that data and analytics can be intimidating to non-analytics teams. Sometimes a stakeholder has a great initiative they want to explore, but don’t know where to start or what variables to look at. That’s why I always encourage the analytics team to put themselves in the shoes of someone new to the field when communicating outside our department. 

It’s great how people outside of data teams want to use data in their work, so it’s our job to understand what they really need and enable them to make decisions confidently and accurately. This enablement doesn’t happen overnight and takes a lot of work, but it’s our main goal. 

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