Updated: Jul 7, 2021
It’s no secret that data analytics is a crucial aspect of the consulting industry. Consultants are challenged with providing recommendations supported by hard, quantitative evidence, meaning firms are always on the lookout for candidates with the required ‘analytical mindset’. Unfortunately, it can be a bit confusing for students to grasp what exactly that term refers to.
As we mentioned in our last article, data analytics is also an important facet of the sales industry, especially at global consumer-packaged goods firm P&G. We caught up with Risham Najeeb, an Account Executive at P&G, and Abeeha Batool, a Senior Category Development Manager with the company, to learn more about data analytics, how it is applied in the workplace and how students can get hands-on experience in the field.
Read on for the full-length interview, as well as some exciting full-time and internship opportunities at P&G at the conclusion of the conversation:
(Note: for context, an Account Executive at P&G is responsible for growing a specific business category, such as Oral Care, at a specific retailer, such as Loblaw)
Could you introduce yourselves to our members?
Risham: My name is Risham Najeeb. I interned at P&G last summer and worked on the Oral Care Business at Shopper’s Drug Mart. Now, I've recently returned to the Shopper’s Drug Mart team, as an Account Executive for the Baby Care category.
Abeeha: I am Abeeha Batool - I’ve been a part of the P&G family since August 2015. I am currently a Category Development Manager on Baby Care with the Loblaw Team. I’ve also been a part of the Women’s Network, P&G Gives Back charity team, as well as the Dragon Boat Team at P&G! What is your personal definition of data analytics?
Risham: To me, data analytics is about turning data into information. In even simpler terms, it's about taking a bunch of numbers and making them meaningful.
Abeeha: Data analytics is the intersection of information and insights. It’s taking any type of information, qualitative or quantitative, and deriving insights from it that can be further changed into recommendations to solve a problem.
In what ways do you apply data analytics to your work?
Risham: Data analysis is extremely important for much of the work you do as an Account Executive at P&G. Some of the most important ways that data analysis is used for the job are as follows: 1) To check the health of your business (i.e. category).
As an Account Executive, you plan everything that you want to execute with your retailer prior to the start of the fiscal year. At this point, you set targets for the growth you want to achieve and other goals you want to accomplish for your business for the upcoming year. In order to ensure that you accomplish your goals and hit your targets, it is crucial to constantly monitor the performance of your business to see if everything is being executed and performing as planned. This requires data analysis because you have to check several different data points and compare against last year in order to understand how your business is doing. This might involve looking at consumption data, shipment data, promotional activity data, and much more. This type of analysis also helps an Account Executive foresee and react to changes in the market, changes at their retailer, or changes in consumer behavior. 2) Finding new opportunities to grow the business you are working on.
In order to generate new ideas about how you can grow your category, it is incredibly useful to dive into the data. For example, you could take a look at your distribution data to see which products are performing well in the national market but are maybe not being sold at your retailer. Through analyzing which products are performing the best, you could identify which ones to bring to your retailer in order to help grow their business.
3) To prove a hypothesis.
You may have a hunch or a gut feeling about something that will either work really well for your business or will hurt it. Data analysis can be used to validate these assumptions. Using data to validate your assumptions helps you make a stronger case when you're working on convincing your retailer to execute a certain plan. What do you find most intriguing about data analytics?
Risham: When you first start looking at a set of raw data, you might feel lost as to what you're supposed to look for. However, what I find very interesting is that when you start organizing and filtering the data in different ways, each different type of organization may bring to light a new finding. Thus, the possibilities with what you might find through analyzing data are endless. This can be overwhelming, but also exciting. What recommendations do you have for students looking to learn more about data analytics?
Risham: One thing that personally helped me build the right type of mindset for analyzing data was participating in case competitions. Although you may not always get a sheet of raw data in Excel to analyze for a case competition, the type of thinking you utilize when building a solution for the problems presented in case competitions is similar to the type of thinking I actually apply in my day to day work at P&G. For example, for a case competition you might hypothetically be trying to determine why a company's market share might be declining and what you should do about it. You can use several different qualitative and quantitative points of data in order to determine your ultimate recommendation. You could find yourself hypothesizing that perhaps market share is declining because consumer tastes are changing. Then, you might Google a related report and analyze survey results or other data to validate that hypothesis. As you are doing that, you are already dipping your foot in analyzing different types of data. Abeeha: I would focus on learning by doing – you don’t need to take a specific course to build analytical skills. For instance, if you are on an executive committee for a club, you might be projecting attendance for next year based on current or prior year trends. Based on the trend, you might want to strategize a few ways to build attendance at events, increase workshops, etc. The opportunity to make decisions based on data are around us all the time – we just have to understand that it isn’t a concept reserved for work only. Another example would be if you are picking a new laptop – you are going to research, talk to friends, look at key factors such as price, features, etc. All of these data points will be the insights you use to essentially pick your next laptop.
Our team at SCC would like to thank Risham and Abeeha for taking the time to do this interview, and we hope you were able to gain some valuable insights into the world of data analytics through the article. If you’re interested in joining the fast-paced, analytical team at P&G, check out their website for a complete list of full-time and internship postings. Specifically, make sure to look into the Account Manager and Brand Management summer internship positions.