Meet the analyst of the future - Alanna Roesler, Schneider Electric

This blog is part of our ongoing "Meet the Analyst of the Future" series, in which we profile those dedicated professionals embracing the future NOW—and in the process, transforming their organizations and supercharging their careers.

As a recent graduate, I’ve been fortunate to get on a fast-track to highly rewarding work in my chosen field of People Analytics, driving HR transformation and taking a lead role in our ThoughtSpot deployment. Though it’s early in our Thoughtspot deployment, we're already at the stage where our analysts spend much less time on basic reports and more time explaining to colleagues what's actually going on with the numbers.

I started my career as a full-time analyst in August 2019 when I joined Schneider Electric in North America. My interest in analytics sparked in graduate school at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, where I earned a Master’s in Industrial Organizational Psychology.  In my studies, I focused on three areas: core HR topics, application of theory to practice, and research methodology. I learned how to leverage machine learning algorithms and advanced statistical methods to create actionable insights. In my second year, it became clear to me that I wanted to pursue People Analytics.

I became an analyst to make an impact. Schneider is a company that supports and enables early careers like me, and genuinely values the fresh perspectives that we bring to projects and the workplace. Empowering colleagues to answer data-driven questions about people and talent supports career development, reveals growth opportunities, and makes our workplace more productive.

From answers to real insights

At Schneider, I began managing large scale projects, including the transition to ThoughtSpot. We had some groundwork to lay to get our data in shape and create a buzz around a new analytics tool being released. Once that was in place the ThoughtSpot deployment was ready to thrive.

ThoughtSpot has taken all Schneider beyond the ability to answer simple questions and has enabled them to gain valuable insights that can propel the organization forward. Before, it was easy enough to find out information like “how many hires have we had in the last three months?” It wasn’t so easy, however, to discover trends in the data over time and how it impacted Schneider. With ThoughtSpot, users can uncover real insights from this data like, “what areas of the business are thriving with the diverse hiring practices” and evaluate further to boost these best practices across all of Schneider. As an analyst, I am now freed up to do more consulting and advanced analytics because my HR colleagues can now answer basic questions and gather applicable insights on their own.

Driving digital transformation and data literacy in HR

My top priority going forward is aligned with those of Schneider’s - driving our digital transformation. Today, my team focuses on helping our users feel comfortable and confident using data to answer day-to-day business questions in a way that - as we say at Schneider - “frees up our energy.”  We don't expect everyone to understand complex statistics and have high data literacy. However, we are helping users understand the essential principles of data and easily utilize it in their jobs through Thoughtspot.

On a personal note, working with ThoughtSpot made me realize my ambition to be a true partner. This means being able to anticipate the needs of the user community and investigate what they're really looking for - rather than just responding to their initial ask. Often, someone will ask me to get one specific metric, but there’s usually a larger motivation behind the request. The more I can spend time making that connection between the initial ask and the true business need, the more I can provide the information that helps my partners tell an impactful, relevant story.

The skills Analysts of the Future will need

Being able to dig deeper and serve as a trusted business partner is not just a personal goal, but an important skill that all analysts of the future will need. Businesses will increasingly rely on us to put complex data in the context of business outcomes for people and communicate that in a simple, tangible way. Of course, we will always need strong technical skills, but over time these more advanced problem-solving and communications skills will come to define our roles.

With data increasingly driving business decisions, the analyst role will champion the value of data-driven and evidence-based practices. Analysts need to develop their confidence and speak up to share the value we know lies in analytics, so we gain the influence and credibility we need to drive business value.

Analysts of the future also need to be able to embrace ambiguity and change because it isn’t going away! I am a planner through and through and would prefer to have the future laid out clearly. This year, however, the COVID crisis helped me and the team get more comfortable and resilient in the face of uncertainty, which was a good test.

A game changer

What ultimately gives me the most satisfaction in my role is seeing how pain points that existed for many years in our analytics process are now going away. It’s genuinely inspirational! Bringing ThoughtSpot into our organization has given us the ability to get instant answers, which creates a buzz and excitement that’s contagious.

In our next phase at Schneider, I’m looking forward to delivering a set of more advanced, valuable People Analytics use cases to the HR community. ThoughtSpot’s been a real game changer that will set Schneider up for the future.

Learn more about how analysts of the future are thriving today.