#66 How to Structure a Data Analytics Team with June Dershewitz – Director of Analytics

June Dershewitz.jpg

June Dershewitz has spent her career driving analytics strategies for major businesses. She's currently Director of Analytics at Twitch, the world's leading video platform and community for gamers (a subsidiary of Amazon). As an analytics practitioner, she builds and leads teams that focus on marketing analytics, product analytics, business intelligence, and data governance. In her prior life as a consultant, she was a member of the leadership team at Semphonic, a prominent analytics consultancy (now part of Ernst & Young). As a long-standing advocate of the analytics community, she was the co-founder of Web Analytics Wednesdays; she's also a Director Emeritus of the Digital Analytics Association and a current Advisory Board Member at Golden Gate University. She holds a BA in Mathematics from Reed College in Portland, Oregon.

 In this episode, June says she fell into data by accident, she has a bachelor's degree in math. She got an idea that she wanted to move to San Francisco and work with a startup. June was invited for an interview as an analyst, and she loved it. It is only a matter of time for June to meet someone before she starts talking about goats. June grew up on a goat farm; her mother was a farmer. After college, June got a job working for a mathematician in Philadelphia. Later, June decided she wanted to work in the industry. She and her boyfriend moved to San Francisco, and both ended up getting jobs with startups. 

June says in startups; people wear many hats. If you come across a problem, you have the liberty to take ownership and solve it. In smaller companies, it is easier to get a holistic view of the workplace. It is possible at more substantial companies too; June currently works for Twitch, which is owned by Amazon. When June arrived, there were 400 employees, but now has over 1500. One skill June has gotten to use to is stepping up to own things. She still feels empowered to solve problems and to take ownership of those problems. Business intelligence means lots of things to lots of people. Before coming to Twitch, June never claimed to own it outright; however, because she is farther along in her career, she has more experience to draw back on. One risk that we have as data people is potentially getting pigeonholed into a thing that we are good at and getting stuck there. June knows a ton about Adobe Analytics; she could have continued to exist in that realm and be just fine. However, she thrives on solving a multitude of problems and being challenged in the workplace. Later, June discussed the hub and spoke organization model, the data quality journey at Twitch, and getting involved in the data science community. 

Enjoy the show!

We speak about:

  • [01:40] How June started in the data space

  • [08:20] Solving problems in startups 

  • [09:45] Getting a holistic view in the workplace  

  • [11:20] Feeling unsure about owning a piece of work 

  • [15:30] Business intelligence skillsets for data scientists   

  • [19:35] Clear understanding of data roles in the workplace 

  • [20:55] An overview of June’s teams’ structures 

  • [27:10] Managing career transitions with the hub and spoke model  

  • [29:25] Assigning each person a technical buddy  

  • [32:10] The data quality journey  

  • [41:40] Evolution of data quality at Twitch  

  • [48:00] Becoming involved in the data science community  

  • [53:10] Other ways June stays involved in her communities 

  • [55:20] Advice for breaking into the data science field 


June’s LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jdersh

Non-Invasive Data Governance: The Path of Least Resistance and Greatest Success

Data Governance: How to Design, Deploy and Sustain an Effective Data Governance Program


  • “The thing about being a data person at that time was we just had to figure it out.”

  • “I was the vice president of everything that needed to get done.”

  • “At Twitch, we don’t have a clear definition of what a data engineer means.”

  • “We chose to move to an organization model that is hub and spoke.”

  • “Data governance can mean lots of things to lots of people.”

Thank you to our sponsors:

UNSW Master of Data Science Online: studyonline.unsw.edu.au

Datasource Services: datasourceservices.com.au or email Will Howard on will@datasourceservices.com.au

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June Dershewitz is based in San Francisco, California.

And as always, we appreciate your Reviews, Follows, Likes, Shares and Ratings. Thank you so much for listening. Enjoy the show!

#52 Influencing Marketing with Data Science with Danielle Timmins – Chief Data Analytics Officer

Danielle Timmins.jpg

Danielle Timmins is the Chief Data Analytics Officer for Free Range Creatives. Free Range Creatives is a digital marketing agency that is deeply rooted in data and analytics. They have a different view on agency life and challenge the existing ways of working. They believe that work should be fun (well, at least most days) and that our work must be insightful, inspirational and effective.

In this episode, Danielle tells us how she did not start in the data space but initially wanted to be a doctor. Danielle ended up getting a Master’s in Economic Psychology, during which she concentrated on the digital side of marketing. This is where Danielle got her exposure to data and started to understand it. Danielle got her first start at an NGO in a marketing position. She would shoot mini-documentaries for television and then moved into a more traditional marketing role. Danielle’s first job as a strategist was down in South Africa where she worked with several different clients. This is when she would start to work with data and incorporate it with strategy.

Danielle says that her most significant learning curve has been communicating related data information to people that do not understand data. She recalls how she was in a meeting and wondered what to do with the numbers that were presented and challenged people on what the data meant and how it was presented. Danielle says that these questions were not really asked at the beginning and said that they only came about once she got into a higher position. She loved sharing how she got to the data and the process, but she learned that most people do not. This opened her eyes to make sure that data is broken down into something exciting and easy to understand.

Later, Danielle explains how her style is more visual than number driven or a standard PowerPoint, she uses a TED Talk presentation. This method utilizes visuals that create excitement; the brain works better with visuals. Usually, there are specific questions that we are trying to answer, and we can help answer these questions with visual stories. There are multiple presentations for different audiences, and you must know this to tell the visual story.

Enjoy the show!

We speak about:

•    [01:45] How Danielle started in the data space

•    [03:20] Background and career  

•    [06:20] Deciding what problems to tackle first on the job

•    [08:35] Evolution of marketing   

•    [13:35] Favorite failure

•    [16:50] How to communicate data

•    [18:30] Visual presentation style

•    [19:45] How Danielle creates a story

•    [21:30] How do you structure visuals for executives?

•    [23:10] How do you think people can get better at this skill?

•    [24:45] What is a strategist for data?

•    [27:40] What is the role outside of data?

•    [29:00] The main challenges for Danielle’s clients

•    [32:30] Working with clients on case-by-case basis

•    [33:30] Qualities of a great data scientist  

•    [35:30] What do you think makes a good data leader?

•    [36:15] Current challenges in the data space

•    [37:40] Future challenges for the data space

•    [42:40] Advice for future data scientists and leaders


Sexy Little Numbers

Free Range Creatives: https://www.freerangecreatives.co.za/

Danielle’s LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/danielletimmins/


•    “There are many different audiences, and you must adapt your story for each one of them.”

•    “Data can sometimes be abused during storytelling, but I hope that over time, this will change and only be used to help support someone.”

•    “All audiences need to be comfortable with what we are doing as data analysists and sharing their work.”

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Thank you to our sponsors: 

UNSW Master of Data Science Online: studyonline.unsw.edu.au 

Datasource Services: datasourceservices.com.au or email Will Howard on will@datasourceservices.com.au 

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Danielle Timmins is based in Essen Area, Germany.

And as always, we appreciate your Reviews, Follows, Likes, Shares and Ratings. Thank you so much for listening. Enjoy the show!