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Stephanie TussingStephanie Tussing is a Data Scientist and Project Manager at Scranton Gillette Communications, Inc. She specializes in event marketing, healthcare IT, client services, web organization/design, Nexis, Simmons and SPSS research, survey construction and analysis, strategic planning, system build, and copy editing.

Stephanie has a BA from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in Advertising and Chemistry. You can find her on Linkedin here.

1. Most job postings cite “X” years of relevant work experience and specific education criteria as requirements to be considered for the position. With this in mind, what prior work experiences and degrees/certifications/training helped prepare you for your current role?

This job fell into my lap. I was interviewing for a healthcare sales position, having worked at Epic and developed a decent understanding of the industry, when the CEO and HR SVP mentioned I seemed the perfect fit for a position that they had wanted to create for some time. My background is very eclectic, with majors in Chemistry and Advertising, and with some business work in software, marketing, and project management. They felt I exhibited the ability to be both creative and analytical, and that’s really what brought it home. As a data scientist, you need to be able to crunch numbers and think about the implications from one filter to the next, but it’s an art as much as it is a science.

1B. What (if any) additional knowledge or skills that you don’t currently have would make you even better at your job?

Working for a publishing company, I am in the exciting position to touch 25+ brands across 9 industries. I work with our construction, building, remodeling, water waste, roads, and medical groups and I need to have a decent understanding of their vendors’ audiences and needs for each conversation. There will always be more to learn for each industry.

2. Some jobs require the incumbent to be very analytical. Others require one to be a strong communicator, and others still require traits like patience, the ability to multitask, self-directedness, comfort with ambiguity, and exceptional attention to detail. Are there any behaviors and/or attributes that you would say are essential to performing the work that you do?

Being able to communicate is key. Many times, people know what they want but don’t know what they need to get to that point (comfort with ambiguity can creep in here). Tactful communication in this position means figuring out their end goal with them and outlining the possible paths we can take to reach it. I know our data tools better than the publishers and sales folks I work with, and so it’s essential that I can tell them what is possible for us to dig up. To get to this point, though, I need to know how the data will need to be used so only useful information is shared.

3. Jobs guru Lou Adler says there are only 4 job types of jobs in the world (producers, improvers, builders, and thinkers). Which type of job are you in?

As the article says jobs and people can be a mix – I’m going to be bold and say all four. That’s the beauty of the digital age and the beauty of being offered a position in a department that did not previously exist. As we’re building the department and initiatives from scratch, I’m a builder. I have daily tasks as a producer where I run and rerun filters I’ve previously created. I suggest and follow through with improvements for how to manage our data. Our department is working with our sales team to change the way they’ve worked with clients for 100 years. Builder, Producer, Improver, Thinker. If you want to leave things better than how you found them, you need to strive to be all of these. With a smaller company and a brand new opportunity tuned to my skills, it’s a wonderful adventure each day.

4. Does your job involve either directly or indirectly supervising or managing people? If so, how many direct (or indirect) reports do you have?

Our department is currently two people (me and a senior VP), and we’re looking to increase that quite a bit in the next 6-8 months. I oversaw 4 Medill graduate students this past summer as we dove into additional ways we can use our data in the various markets.

5. How does what you do impact the business? Think complexity (different types of impacts) and scale (degree of impact). Put another way: Who and what would be impacted if your job wasn’t being done well, and why would it matter that they were impacted?

If I did not reach the bar for my job, our circulation and sales teams would not be able to do their best in their positions, and our audience and clients would suffer. We want to continuously improve our ways to speak to the right people. Without that, we teeter on a cliff of mass-reach with cry-worthy lead results.

6. Is your job safe? Rate its safety on a scale of 1-10 with 1 being “seated all day in an air conditioned vault” and 10 being “I’m an astronaut going into space”. If your job isn’t safe, what working conditions (specifically) make it hazardous?

There’s been some remodeling that smelled rather chemical-related, so I’ll say 1 on paper and 8 a couple weeks ago…

As always, please share your thoughts in the comments section below.