As an active industry blogger, I get many inquiries each week from folks around the world with similar questions. Although I do enjoy connecting with my readers, it is impossible to meet with all of you. The following are my answers to commonly asked questions. I will continue to update this page over time. Hopefully, this information is helpful.

FAQ 1: Do you know anyone that is interested in a new role?
FAQ 2: Can you help me find a new role in analytics?
FAQ 3: What skills do I need to get started in analytics?
FAQ 4: How can an Analyst or BI Professional become a data scientist?
FAQ 5: When will you update your Tableau and Microsoft Power BI comparison?
FAQ 6: What are you working on these days?
FAQ 7: How can I start a business or freelance in the gig economy?

FAQ 1: Do you know anyone that is interested in a new role?

If you are a recruiter looking for analytics talent, I do not share my connections. I don’t mind getting emailed information about roles and then referring my connections to contact you. This is not something that I do often as I get too many of these recruiter emails. Please consider sending candidate inquiries to analytics user groups and job boards.

FAQ 2: Can you help me find a new role in analytics?

If you are a recent college graduate trying to find your first role, consider applying to consulting firms such as McKinsey & Company, Boston Consulting Group, Accenture, Deloitte, Bain & Company and others. My early career experience at KPMG and Capgemini has been priceless. It helped me see a wide variety of projects big and small, learn how to navigate the business world, present ideas in a compelling manner, explore libraries of interesting work, and fill my brain with free online learning.

If you are having trouble landing a role and need work, try reaching out to a staffing agency such as KForce. There are many agencies out there. These groups are motivated to find roles for you. They also have existing connections with local businesses to get you past the online career forms that are a useless waste of your time to fill out. Networking or getting in another way is your best option. Notably as a military spouse, I used staffing agencies super successfully each time I moved around the country to support my husband’s career. After you gain real world work experience, you may not need these groups to find a role.

For more senior level analytics or data science professionals, Burchworks specializes in placing analytics talent. I have no relationship or experience with them but I used to get weekly open analytics roles sent to me from them and also icrunchdata.com.

FAQ 3: What skills do I need to get started in analytics?
Did you enjoy statistics or math classes in school? If you did like statistics and math, you will most likely enjoy analytics. If you did not, this profession may not be a wonderful fit for you. I totally love crunching numbers and thus I love what I do. That passion is my secret to success.

To gain basic analytical skills, I recommend getting a solid foundation in statistical concepts. There are plenty of free resources to do that including but not limited to Coursera, EdX, Big Data University and Udacity. Simply search for free statistics classes on Google and you’ll find them.

I also recommend learning Python and R programming languages. Those are very popular and in high demand. Personally I like DataCamp. I don’t have a business relationship with them but I do like the format that they use. The content is excellent too.

Knowing how to query data is also an essential skill, thus learn the SQL language and how to design a database. Again, these types of topics are widely available to learn for free.

Lastly, you will want to have skills in showcasing your analysis and telling stories with data. If you are not already an Excel guru, you will want to become a master of Excel. It is the #1 analytics tool in the world! Also learn Tableau, Qlik, TIBCO Spotfire, or another data discovery tool. For data storytelling, there are many excellent books and SlideShare presentations on that topic.

FAQ 4: How can an Analyst or BI Professional become a data scientist?

Usually when I get asked this question, I want to know why a move is desired. As much as we hear about the so-called data science talent shortage, I found these roles to be rarely available. When a data science role did open up, it was usually staffed with a PhD level statistics or mathematics graduate.

To learn data science myself, I took a specialized course given by my favorite data science guru, Dean Abbott, back in 2006. Then I invested in a two-year post-graduate certificate data science program from University of California San Diego that I aced. Despite my training and passion for data science, I never landed a pure data science role ever. I was always immediately rejected without even getting an interview! I found landing business intelligence roles was much easier to achieve. Reporting projects sometimes allowed me to apply my data mining skills. Although I did not get a lot of data science work, it was fun working in a data related role that aligned to my interests.

Keep those lessons learned in mind as you hear all the hoopla around data science. Try to use free or low cost programs to gain the basic data science knowledge. I do occasionally give a fast-paced, advanced analytics class that summarizes my two-year training in one day.

If you are certain that you want to pursue a career in data science, look into a masters or PhD program at an accredited university. Those degrees are far more respected than the two-year certificate program that I took, online degree programs or the couple month certificates major technology vendors teach now to help them sell cloud data science solutions. You will be competing with talent around the world for these roles.

FAQ 5: When will you update your Tableau and Microsoft Power BI comparison?

If you want to see excellent, unbiased, public compare articles, I recommend Ken Black’s blog. He is brilliant, thorough and fair in his real world tests of both Tableau and Microsoft Power BI.

I know this is a mega-hot topic and that my compare articles are extremely popular. Currently I am under a Microsoft non-compete contract until March 25, 2017. Microsoft monitors me closely so I have to wait until that date. For those of you that think non-compete is not enforceable, that is not true. Check your state laws. In Florida, non-compete is enforced. I know that because Microsoft field sales pressured me to leave Tableau in 2013 with lawsuit threats. To fight it, I would have had to hire a lawyer for tortious interference. I opted not to fight it. That event was a turning point in my career.

In March 2017 when my Microsoft non-compete expires once again, I need to take better care of myself. It is not fun to be the bully target of staff protected by one of the biggest companies in the world.

I am not a victim. I freely choose to write articles and accept responsibility for it.

However my public Microsoft compare articles have been the source of much heartache and malicious behavior.

I felt my compare article was honest and fair…if anything I was easy on Microsoft. However, that article prompted aggressive recruiting efforts to get me to return to Microsoft. Eventually I did return to an obscure chief evangelist role on the Microsoft Power BI product team where I was isolated and unsupported. The lack of support may have been due to cultural bias but also may have been intentional. I truly believe that I was hired with no interviews only to silence my valid, honest, public criticism of Microsoft.

Here are a few examples of what I experienced.

  • I was given a broken laptop when I started and told there was no budget to buy one. As a result, I purchased my own laptop.
  • I was not added to the primary team email announcement distribution lists for over 10 months. To get added, I escalated the issue outside of my organization. Everyone else that got hired into my same team was immediately added to those email lists.
  • I was denied access to basic tools and needed support to do my job that peers were provided. I used my own tools, social media accounts, blog website and Partner forum account to distribute Power BI content and function in my role.
  • Despite numerous requests to include me from leadership, I was excluded from most meetings and evangelism activities. I did get to host several webinars after escalating my challenges and reporting them to the Microsoft diversity team.
  • I was not allowed to teach Power BI after a male peer complained. That man and other peers were allowed to do so.
  • Bots sent me pictures of naked women when I tweeted with a #PowerBI tag. It started after I rejoined Microsoft and then strangely stopped after Microsoft received notice of my report from a State of Washington government agency.

The list goes on and on. I should have left right away when I knew that I was in a bad situation. My manager asked me to give them more time, every single time I resigned. That was another mistake…I waited way too long to leave. The bullying only got worse over time. It continued even after I left.

No one cares about bully targets. It is human nature to blame them.

The most healing conversation that I had in regards to this matter was with the man that won his $11.6 million bullying lawsuit against Microsoft. In talking to him, I learned that I was assigned to the same Microsoft legal team after reporting my experiences. Now I know with 100% certainty that Microsoft bullies get protected and bully targets do not get protected. When you go through an experience like mine, you begin to question yourself, who to believe and what is real.

I am much happier now that I am in a healthy working situation again. I reported my Microsoft bullying experiences to several legal organizations and government agencies. Today I no longer work with anything Power BI related nor do I promote Microsoft. Every once in a while I do help my friends in the Microsoft ecosystem with technical content or marketing.

That is why I don’t know if or when I will ever be ready to agitate Microsoft again with another public compare article. My honest Microsoft compare articles have been extremely expensive for me emotionally, financially and professionally.

FAQ 6: What are you working on these days?

My little business, Impact Analytix, LLC, primarily provides a wide variety of public relations, creative marketing services, market intelligence, technical product design, solution review, and technical content development to vendors and media firms in the analytics industry. It also offers analytics advisory services for investment firms and companies.

Unlike the first 15 years of my career, I don’t pursue as much “hands-on” development work right now. I do learn, test and teach analytics solutions “hands-on” to keep my technical skills sharp. Technical development is more of a fun thing since I love playing with data.

FAQ 7: How can I start a business to freelance in the gig economy?

Starting a business is really a big deal. Don’t underestimate what is needed and required of you to make it. Owning a business takes a strong mind, tenacious spirit and great people skills. It also can be expensive…to do it right.

Minimally you will want to have at least six months salary in the bank to “float” payments since most clients do not work on a retainer basis and only some provide a deposit. It is not unusual to wait three or four months before you see any income on a project. Sometimes you may never collect payment. In the meantime, you will be incurring extra monthly bills, travel and start up costs.

When I started my business, I registered with the State of Florida and also the IRS to get an employer id for taxes. I bought several types of insurances for general and professional liability. I set up several business bank accounts for paying invoices and receiving payments. I bought a domain name, upgraded my web servers, designed my branding, web site, business cards and basic sales collateral. I also invested in an Office 365 E3 subscription, remote storage for disaster recovery, a business phone line, QuickBooks Pro, CRM, webinar service since Skype is unreliable, mass email service, fancy survey software, Tableau Desktop, electronic payment processing, and other software subscriptions or cloud services.

Plan to spend at least $1,000 and possibly up to $6,000 per month on your business to get it up and running.

To be able to contract project work, I also had to establish a library of forms and contracts including but not limited to the following.

  • Services Offering Overview
  • Mutual Non-disclosure Agreement
  • Statement of Work
  • Subcontractor Agreements
  • Referral Agreements
  • Invoices and Collection Letters
  • W9 for Taxes

When you work for yourself, you need to submit quarterly estimated self-employment taxes to the IRS. Do not forget to do it or ignore it! Look up the IRS quarterly payment schedule and mark it on your calendar.

There is so much more entailed when starting a new business. Essentially the items I shared above should get you functional. I also encourage you to talk to other business owners to hear about lessons learned.

I have found that people that want to work with me do and those that don’t simply won’t call. You can usually tell a good client from a not so good one just by gut feel. However, pulling D&B business credit reports is another priceless tip. Don’t provide credit to a company without seeing that report. It ranges from $50 to $150 and is worth every penny.

If you are not good at marketing and sales, starting your own business is going to be incredibly difficult. You may want to consider going 1099 or W2 through a staffing agency or another consulting firm that finds work for you.

I hope that helps give you an idea of what is entailed in starting your own company. It is not at all easy but essentially you drive your own destiny. Your are your own boss. Anything is possible.

 

Big Data University

DataCamp

techinsurance

D&B