I never took calculus. I can’t code. I have no industry expertise in supply chains or Basel III. My most lengthy study of AI is watching Bernard reanimate Dolores on Westworld.
Based on the above, you could make the argument that I have no place in an analytics company.
But nine years and a few title changes later, I’m pleased to report that not only did I find my career footing at SAS, but the support I received from the technical and non-technical alike helped me understand precisely where I fit in this big, technical picture.
You see, SAS’ mission (aka the employee rally cry) is “to empower and inspire with the most trusted analytics.” But who empowers and inspires the people who … empower and inspire with the most trusted analytics?
Let me tell you a story.
I have a one-hour commute each way, leaving a lot of time to over think. One day, I had a scary thought: What’s my place in a company where my daily tasks don’t directly affect SAS’ bottom line and my skills don’t align to analytics? What’s more, if the novelty of subsidized cafés and lunchtime yoga wear thin, what will keep me motivated to make this crazy drive every day?
That led me to take a mental inventory.
Alli: What's so intriguing about training employees to use social media?
Alli: I meet a lot of people. I love understanding the disparate roles at SAS and what each person does to make it hum. By knowing the people and the roles, I understand SAS and our tech a lot better. And I make friends along the way.
Alli: What’s particularly gratifying about those meetings?
Alli: A tactic to avoid the awkwardness of talking about yourself on social media (in a profile for example) is to discuss things that inspire you or the last time you felt proud at the end of the day. Hearing someone piece that together is just plain fun to witness. An intern in the accessibility lab (who does not have a visual impairment) hearing a graph for the first time. The face of our #data4good efforts who speaks alongside members of the UN and the Wounded Warrior Project. A manager in R&D who wants new hires to know he can put on his headphones and code with the be best of them.
Alli: That's great for them, but what gives you warm-fuzzies about those interactions with employees?
Alli: My favorite times have been emails or messages saying, ‘I never thought I would, but I wrote my first LinkedIn article!’ or ‘Thank you for spending so much time helping me get my Twitter bio just right’ or ‘I always learn something new in our classes; I can tell you put a lot of time into them.’
I can safely say I’ll never develop a piece of software. I won’t be the person to articulate our value proposition poetically enough to change a CIO’s mind. But hopefully the people who have those talents will feel more confident, prepared and polished with a little help from me.
You can try out some of Alli's social media advice for yourself and get a glimpse of the amazing work she does at SAS.
When Alli's not helping employees, you'll probably find her traveling or snapping photos behind a camera!
Great article, Ali! There are many of us who work in highly technical fields but don't have deep skill sets in programming, mathematics, or other. We are vital in "completing" the organization, ensuring that it's well rounded and can function at all levels. Thank you for sharing your story!
Let me add my agreement that this was a great article. I can testify to Alli's contributions to SAS and the difference it has made to me in my sales role to help me learn an entirely different and relevant way to communicate to my and SAS's customers and influencers. Way to go Alli!
Meredith -- SO TRUE. We have to remind ourselves of this time and again, right?! David -- you my friend, show. up. and that is a quality that not a lot of people have. You have taken our classes and truly run with them, setting the BEST example for others who want to really build their social skill set. Keep killing it, dude!
You may not be able to code, but you've certainly cracked the one that helps SAS employees in every role express their perspectives in ways that really mean something. And gosh darn it, people like you (including me). #LoveThatSparklyHashtag #SocialMaven #PressOn
Just to add a bit to the love-fest for Alli... What you do makes a difference in our interconnected society. The idea that we can just stay heads-down and code and that our product and our personal accomplishments will deliver themselves is all but obsolete. Your training helps us navigate a world that as tech folks we don't often interact with in a professional manner and gives us confidence on how, when, and where we can insert ourselves into the social conversations around us.
Alli - This is awesome! I’ve learned so much from you. You have definitely found your calling!
Ali - you are a gem! What would we do without your amazing energy? You bring SAS to life each and everyday - keep making that drive, my friend.
As one of your former teachers, I could not be more proud of you. I am not surprised that you have done so well and that all these people feel the impact you have on them. This is a well written article and it gives me a better idea of what you do and how well you do it. Congratulations!
Aw, Mr. O'Brien! I can count on one hand my favorite, most beloved teachers and you are without a doubt on that list. I've never been trained to 'train' so I pull from my own favorite educators. Please know there is a part of you in what I do now. 🙂
You are the bomb, along with the rest of your team! You've taught me how to be comfortable using social media for myself and how it can be combined with my passions at work with fitness. Thank you for all that you do! I can't wait to learn even more!