Guest Blog - Women in Data & Analytics: Jo-Ann Foo, Analytic Partners

Leon Young 05.03.2019

To celebrate International Women's Day on March 8th, this week we will be bringing you a series of guest blogs from leading senior females in Data and Analytics. They will be discussing their success, career-defining moments and what advice they would give to another female looking to pursue a similar career. This is what Jo-Ann Foo, Director at Analytic Partners had to say.

Profilejo-ann_foo.jpg: Jo-Ann Foo is a Director at global marketing consultancy firm Analytic Partners, where she delivers customised analytics programs, using marketing mix modelling, which provide strategic insights to improve sales performance and marketing ROIs, for a range of brands and their media agencies.  Analytic Partners is the leading marketing measurement and optimisation consultancy in the Asia-Pacific region and Jo-Ann joined Analytic Partners 18 months ago to help support the rapid growth of the industry and agency in Australian and NZ.

Her degree in marketing and accounting make her background perfect for her current role looking at marketing effectiveness, but prior to joining Analytic Partners, Jo-Ann spent 16 years in market research where she solved marketing-related business challenges across a variety of industries with qualitative and quantitative data-led evidence.  This included marketing sizing and opportunity analysis, new product development, price optimisation, customer journey analysis, brand and comms development and partnership management.  Her experiences have given her exposure to a diverse range of problems and perspectives, particularly as she has worked in agencies in Sydney, London and Kuala Lumpur.

What would be the key things that allowed you to get to where you are today and what do you attribute your success to?

Being introverted.  Growing up I used to think that being introverted was a hindrance because I was often told that I was too quiet.  In hindsight, and looking back on my career so far, I think being introverted has actually been a good thing.  It’s meant that I’ve had to be far more focused in demonstrating (rather than talking about, or up) my worth, that I’m considered in my approach, and that I’m much more naturally self-reflective / critical and observant of the world around me.  I’ve come to realise that all of this means that the opinion I offer is genuinely more likely to be valued and listened to because although I’m bad at BS I can be outspoken and will speak my mind about what I believe in, which includes the recommendations I make to clients.
Curiosity. An ex-colleague once said to me “I’d love to be inside your mind for a day just to see what goes on in there”, with regards to the fact that I can be sitting at my desk trying to solve a complex problem but I’ll always have other random thoughts and ideas going through my head, (most of which I say out loud, often to myself!)  It might be a sign of craziness, but personally, I love the random thoughts because they keep life interesting and mean that I’m constantly learning (thank you Google!)  It also means that curiosity is in my nature – I like to know why – which is an important mindset to have as a consultant, because that’s where the real insight comes from.
Doing what I say I’m going to do. One of my biggest frustrations is hearing people say “I’m going to add that to my list of Things To Do One Day” and knowing that they won’t actually get to do it.  I’m not saying that you can’t have that list, but you need to be ticking items off that list as you go.  There are always things that you can do now.  The thing that stops most people is that they think they need someone else to do it with or to make it happen.  The sooner you realise that most things are completely within your control – if you can overcome the fear of stepping outside your comfort zone or the fear of doing it all on your own, the better.  When I get an idea to do something in my head, you can be sure that I’m going to give it a crack at some point.  Occasionally I hear my friends call me “brave”, but I’ll let you in on a secret – sometimes it’s much easier when you can back away slowly without anyone else knowing who you are or without the pressure of an audience.  Ultimately (from a business perspective) this translates to me being able to get things done (I’m my own worst critic); I’m adaptable to new situations, but I know my weaknesses and how to manage them, or when I should ask for help (because the great thing about most businesses is that you generally have the support of a great team so don’t have to fear to do it on your own).
 
Have there been any career-defining moments?

I’ve been very fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with some amazingly talented people across the different agencies I’ve worked at.  Working with people who are intelligent, passionate about what they do and who take pride in the delivery of their work has:

  • Encouraged me to stay and be part of that – so many people come into their first job or make a career change and have a bad experience because of the people they work with, which means they don’t give an industry a fair chance. It’s sad on both counts because there’s no reason not to be loving what you do every day.
  • Given me great role models who have challenged me to ensure I am continuously striving to better myself, or to try and be as good as them.
  • Been a lot of fun!

What advice would you give to other females looking to pursue a career in Data?

Work out what part of “data and/or analytics” you like (or even, don’t like) doing.  The industry is burgeoning but broad – which means it’s a great time to get in as there are lots of opportunities, but if you don’t know what specific area you want to get into or what you do or don’t like doing, then you’re probably going to end up being one of those people that give it a go, and then leaves.  For example, you should at least know, whether you like the programming, modelling or stats, or problem-solving side of things.  Or whether its automation / AI versus manually understanding the data that’s going to rock your boat.
Find a job where you like the sound of the work and get along with the people.  You spend the majority of your life at work so you should enjoy it.
Take on board all the feedback you can. Watch, listen and observe and don’t take anything personally, even if it may be personal.  You’re never going to get along with everyone and some people are just going to judge you on the way you look.  Don’t take that 
personally.
 

Join in on the conversation on Twitter for this years' International Women's Day using the hashtag #BalanceforBetter

Leon Young's picture
Senior Consultant | Analytics
lyoung@morganmckinley.com.au