Katie Merry is a Product Manager at MYOB, specifically working on how the company uses its data for business insights and triggering actions.
Like many people that work in the technology and startup ecosystem, Merry’s path to working in the industry was an interesting one. Originally studying music at university, Merry later switched to studying commerce, which is where she began to lay the foundations to what became a degree that saw her complete both an accounting and a marketing and strategy major – a degree which landed her a role with Ford Motor Company as a sales graduate.
After some natural rotation in the early years across various marketing, sales and strategy roles, Merry moved to the UK. It was there that she started working for a company called John Lewis. Merry identifies this as the beginning of her slightly more technical journey.
“John Lewis is a retailer like David Jones,” said Merry. “They’ve got a really strong online business so I spent a couple of years working in a combination of their marketing team but also their customer data team, I was the project manager in that space. I then worked in their online team for a couple of years and worked firstly as an email manager and that was a marketing role, but then my first real pure analytics role happened – I worked in their Management Information Systems team.”
In that role Merry was required to write code – a first for her at the time.
“What motivated me was I was doing a lot of marketing, and I was particularly interested in the data and how we were using that data,” said Merry. “I kind of just got more and more involved in the data itself, looking at how we could use it, how it worked, and how things got connected and I sort of really wanted to get in and get my hands dirty.”
Then a role came up within the company managing the business analytics and business information systems, a role that required coding in order to make sure that all teams had visibility and data they could use.
“That was the tipping point for me,” said Merry. “I did that for about a year and a half and then came back home and started at MYOB as a senior analyst. I worked in the analytics space for the last two and a half years and then, since the start of this year, I’ve worked purely in the data team. I’m a product manager responsible for working with road maps, working with a team of developers to ensure that people within MYOB can do cool stuff with our data.”
When it comes to collecting and understanding data, one of the messages that Merry says she tries to push is that there is always more to the information than you think.
“I love the kind of adventure you go on with data and how its kind of, its as much an art as a science,” says Merry. “I think there is a common misconception that data is about the science and the maths but actually, when you look at data science as a skill and increasingly what analysts need to do, you need to be able to tell this beautiful story with the data that you’ve got, so it’s not particularly useful to just crunch a whole lot of numbers and generate a whole bunch of charts, you’ve got to tell a story and drive an outcome.”
The way that Merry talks about data is important, particularly at a time when there is such a huge focus on ensuring we have a STEM-educated next generation. It is all very well to get young people to start building cool technology products, but the next step is making sure they know how to leverage the information that comes from that.
“I think it depends on the age group we’re talking abou,t because obviously we can get young girls building programs and it seems exciting and well suited and designed for them, but how do you get analytics into that space?” asked Merry.
“I think with analytics in general, you’re always trying to tell a fun and interesting story to your audience, and I would approach this challenge exactly the same way. You can get people hooked on analytics by getting them across a problem that really appeals to them and then have them use data to solve it.”
Featured Image: Katie Merry | Source: Provided
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