I was born on a hot spring day in the late seventies in Amarillo, Texas. While my mother was at the hospital giving birth to me, all my sisters were huddled in a cellar back home as a tornado ripped through our town. Everyone remembers me as the “tornado baby.”
my formative years
The first eighteen years of my life were spent in a small farm and ranch community in the Texas Panhandle. I attended a tiny public school called Groom I.S.D., which taught grades K-12 in the same building. I graduated second in my class, and managed to avoid home economics and agriculture classes and focused on Spanish, yearbook, and writing.
my university years
The best advice I received before starting college was: “Just study what you enjoy, because most companies only care that you have a college degree.” I took that advice to heart, and studied linguistics, writing, and Spanish at the University of North Texas. The Spanish program led me to Spain for a summer, and infected me with a travel bug that would continue to afflict me for the rest of my life.
Although I loved what I had studied, once I graduated with a BA four years later I was uncertain what career path I should pursue with a double degree in English and Spanish. I decided to take a staff job at my university in the School of Library and Information Sciences. Despite having no experience with web design, I was appointed to maintain the department’s website. I audited a few information science classes to help bring me up to speed, and I was quickly hooked. I picked up whatever I could from the faculty and grad students, and happily overhauled the department’s website and even started up my own web diary.
my international years, the australia chapter
I quickly convinced myself that I wanted to pursue web development as a career. That, coupled with the itch to experience life overseas, led me to enroll for the Information Technology program at Charles Sturt University in Wagga Wagga, New South Wales, Australia. There I attended classes on Java programming, network management, ethics in technology, web-based information systems, relational databases, etc. I was shocked to find that I took to it all very easily, despite having no background, and even more shocked to find how well I fit in with all the dudes who had been coding since infancy!
my career begins
My plan when I returned to the States a few years later was to find work as a programmer. However, the dot-com industry had officially stopped booming. I found work as the assistant to the emarketing manager at a major healthcare corporation. I developed a few basic sites, and I quickly rose through the ranks to assume a junior emarketing position, and to eventually take the manager’s place when she moved on to product management.
After three and a half years in healthcare emarketing, I became anxious to make the jump over to ecommerce where I could gain online retail experience. I joined the operations team in the ecommerce department at a fashion accessories company. Initially this consisted of project management and some basic implementation/development work, but my responsibilities eventually expanded to include web analytics, SEO, and production management of 4 other developers.
During my two years at the fashion company, I fell deeply and passionately in love with web analytics. I was so smitten with analytics that I was ready for a committed relationship, and was determined to find a new role where that could be my primary focus. I found a wonderful agency in Seattle who specialized in web analytics, packed up my life, and moved to the Pacific Northwest to be trained and nurtured by the best in the field. There I learned a broad range of sub-specialties within analytics, got experience with all the major tools, and got the best web analytics education in the world.
my international years, the finland chapter
Two years after joining the agency and working on clients like Ford, Dell, Microsoft, and Morgans Hotels, a ridiculously fortuitous opportunity presented itself to me. My agency needed someone to move to Finland to support one of their new accounts. I had visited Finland on vacation a few years before, and had become completely enchanted with the land of forests and impossible-to-pronounce 85 syllable words. I jumped at the chance to move there, and within weeks found myself sitting in Nokia House, learning keyboard shortcuts for ö and ä.
After several years of being in the web analytics industry, my passion for it hasn’t dimmed one bit. I love it today just as much as I did ten years ago when I first starting playing around with Google Analytics. I want to continue to grow and improve as an analyst, and to have the opportunity to work somewhere where I can know the business and the data at a very deep level. I dream of working somewhere where analytics is at the heart of all business decisions, and we use a whole tangled web of data sources to weave together a story of what our visitors do, need, and want.
A few years ago a friend who was interested in analytics asked me about the kinds of skills one needs to break into the field. I think she was expecting my answer to be “a statistics degree” or “5 years of programming experience” or “a cousin in Utah who knows someone at Omniture.” But my answer was, “I think you just need to be a naturally curious and inquisitive person.”
For the next chapter in my life and career, I’d like to work for a company or client who inspires me to be filled with curiosity and questions, so I can start combing through the data to find all the answers.