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
“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.”
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June Dershewitz is based in San Francisco, California.
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