If there’s one defining characteristic of analytical people, it would be that we are curious explorers. We were the kids who dismantled calculators and tried to put them back together, all because we wanted to trace how they could come up with the right answer. We were the teenagers who did well in high school chemistry, not because we must get the A, but because we were really entranced by the reactions of the elements at different physical states and conditions. Personally, I was convinced I was going to make the coolest, most unique soaps. In our first data-immersed jobs, we were the ones who always found time to tinker with all data available, who scouted new data elsewhere all the time, and who people came to for cool prototypes to wow their clients come renewal time. We were also probably seen as a tad stubborn growing up in the corporate world – not because we thought we were superstars, but because we expected others to be as passionate and dedicated as we were to what’s in the data. It seems, whatever had our attention, our curiosity drove our passion: A bit like detectives, we would really get into the data, find out their shapes, why certain phenomena are happening, what causes it to behave a certain way, what invalidates it, and so on. While we’re good at storytelling, we’re even better at actually exploring. I mean, what could be more exciting?
The two massive “storms” that have unfolded in the last 10 years, that’s what! One is called big data; the other is AI analytics. They are storms because they have pretty much shaken everybody up. Big data confronted the largest companies with a huge digitalization puzzle. In earlier years, companies talked about their big data innovations in familiar terms, not to be easily understood, but only because it was still based on old planes of thought. It was the classic evolution story, like our eyes being only wired for 3D vision, even though reality has more dimensions. We can dissect calculators and put them back together all day long, like when we were kids, and it still would not tell us how it gets the answer right each time. The whole is really more than just the sum of its parts. AI-powered analytics is the prism through which we are barely starting to see things differently. Not all of this AI prism is new, but for us, curious bunch, this has to be our decade. The new norm is intelligent reinvention. Just as data and AI constantly evolve, our analytical minds should, too. And the most powerful thing right now is the recognition that we can’t just be analytical, or inventive, or creative or a storyteller. Those are all just “dials” that can be turned to different settings depending on the challenge at hand. We are multidimensional beings. Just like our universe.
When I started my analytics consulting business in 2013, some thought I just did it to show something on LinkedIn while I looked for the next job. This could not be farther from the truth. I love what I do – it is my home. I love that I’m getting to do this at an exciting, revolutionary time. I love that I am trusted, not only as someone who can swim through data and derive useful insights, but as a business confidante who can listen to what keeps the CXO awake at night, and trace solutions back to what’s in the data. Most of all, I love mentoring younger talent. At my age, I get to compare my modes of learning and how I gained experience to how the next-gen analysts are doing it. In this era of big data and extremely powerful analytics, my favorite mentees are those high in positive energy, passion, integrity, and two or three specific skills. When they’re coupled with low ego, I know I have a winner. It doesn’t matter how short a time they stay with me; I am happy enough if they remember me as someone they learned from the most in their formative years in analytics. As for being a woman in analytics, it really hasn’t crossed my mind much. Never felt discrimination nor special treatment for being one. At the end of the day, what’s really important are one’s trustworthiness and whether there’s real, sustainable content in what one offers.
Meet Maria Singson: Analytics Researcher, AI enthusiast, and Datapreneur.