Forget the career ladder, start climbing the jungle gym

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This is the first in a series of posts where we interview employees around the company to explore career journeys at SAS. We're excited to show you what career development, growth, and opportunity looks like within our company. You can read all the posts as we publish them here.

These days, building your career is less like climbing a ladder, and more about embracing the jungle gym. And Allison Becker's career journey at SAS is the perfect example.

Allison Becker - Manager of Data and Analytics, Enterprise Analytics

Manager of Data and Analytics in our Enterprise Analytics group, Allison's learned to navigate the jungle gym with finesse. Her willingness to take charge of her career and her openness to learning from others has served her well. Check out what skills and development opportunities allowed her to have a robust career in her 7 years at SAS.

Q: I’ve heard you’ve had quite the career journey here at SAS. Can you tell me about it?

Allison: The short answer is, I originally started in our hosting group as an individual contributor doing consulting. As our group grew and I acquired more leadership skills, I was asked to move into a manager role. This experience exposed me to a whole new set of experiences and interests. A few years later, I realized I might want to pursue something that would allow me to apply my knowledge and experience internally at SAS. After some soul searching and looking at the needs of the business, the right role opened for me. I made the move to IT, as an individual contributor. As my new group grew, I was asked again to move back in to management. I definitely had more of a jungle gym experience moving in and out of manager roles across different areas of the business.

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"I definitely had more of a jungle gym experience moving in and out of manager roles across different areas of the business." -Allison Becker

Q: You must be having a little bit of déjà vu now that you’re back in a management role! Before you became a manager for the first time, how did you know you wanted to move in to leadership? Did you have to build any new skills?

Allison: I knew I was interested in management because I always enjoyed personal development, and helping coach and develop others. I looked for opportunities where I could flex those skills and build them up. For instance, as we had new people hired to our team, I asked my manager if I could be their on-boarding mentor to help new employees get settled. I became the go-to person for that and developed my coaching skills while helping new employees feel at home.

I know I sound so “HR,” but having a conversation with your manager to share what you’re looking for and how you want to grow is important. After I had these conversations, my management allowed me to shadow them. I learned more about how certain decisions are made, and how those decisions affected things outside of what I was exposed to in my day to day work. These opportunities gave me a lot of perspective to start assessing situations and thinking like a leader.

When a management position opened in the group, I was able to speak to all of the skills I had been building up over time. I could also provide concrete examples of ways I had used those skills in my current role. The key is to gain exposure and demonstrate the skills of the next role you want to move into.

Q: And after all that – you decided to make another move in to a completely different area! How did you know you were ready for a new challenge? What did you do to prepare for your new role?

Honestly, when I started thinking about moving, it wasn't a light decision. I loved what I was doing, and I had strong relationships with my team. SAS is my long-term home, and I knew I needed to find the next step in my career where I could have the most impact based on everything I had learned and experienced in my current position.

I realized, while I loved being a manager and helping my team develop and succeed, I found myself missing being more hands on with the technology. You can still have some of that as a manager, but you end up playing more of a key role setting the strategy for the technology than being overly hands-on with it.

When I decided to start looking, I knew that I was fortunate to already be at SAS. Because of the nature of our work, we have developers everywhere within the company! I just had to find the right place that fit my career path and development goals. So, I started doing a lot of networking to meet people and learn more about different teams within the business.

I was also a part of our Young Professionals Network (YPN), one of our employee inclusion groups. My involvement with YPN, helped me meet people from across the company. Additionally, I had a variety of conversations with mentors both inside and outside of my group. We discussed their SAS career journeys so I could learn more about what it meant to be successful here. However, at the end of the day, you need to own having these development conversations and take charge of your career. No one will do it for you. It was up to me to set goals and have mentors help guide me along the way to achieve them.

Q: You’ve been here for 7 years, in a variety of roles. What do you love about working at SAS and the career you’ve been able to build here?  

Allison: We focus on finding answers and solutions to some of the world’s toughest problems and create solutions for our customers to do the same. I want to help my customers take their data and turn it into much needed answers. I like knowing that I’m having a positive impact on the world through the work I do here at SAS and in a job that I love. The journey isn’t over, but I’ve enjoyed and learned something every step of the way.

Thanks Allison for sharing such great career advice and insight. We can’t wait to see what’s next for you!

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About Author

Allison (Bonner) Bogart

Employer Branding and People Communications

Allison is creates SAS’ global Employer Brand and People Communications strategy - bringing our culture and values to life for candidates and employees. She also represents SAS’ culture externally, speaking about the important connection between business and corporate culture. Allison holds dual degrees in Communications and Music from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and a Masters of Business Administration from North Carolina State University.

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