Meet your SAS #StrataHadoop Team: Rachel Hawley

Rachel Hawley
Rachel Hawley (L), SAS Solutions Architect, and Brooke Fortson (R), SAS Marketing Specialist

A core SAS team of thought leaders, developers and executives will be in New York City on September 29 at Strata + Hadoop World, mixing and mingling with people like you who live and breathe analytics. We’d love to be a part of your Strata + Hadoop World agenda. Last week, I introduced you to Patrick Hall and Clark Bradley in this blog series featuring Q&As with the folks you can meet at the SAS booth #543.

This week, you'll meet Rachel Hawley and Dan Zaratsian, both Solutions Architects here at SAS headquarters in Cary, NC. First up, Rachel Hawley. Rachel assists customers in defining their business problems and objectives, and using SAS advanced analytics solutions to help them reach their goals. Her main focuses are SAS In-Memory Analytics solutions and SAS Decision Management.

I had the pleasure of meeting Rachel at Strata + Hadoop World San Jose earlier this year, where we instantly clicked. We share a love for the outdoors, fitness and witty humor. We also both have degrees from North Carolina State University, although hers is a master’s in operations research and mine is a bachelor's in marketing. In other words, she can apply advanced analytics methods to data and I can promote it through a fancy video or infographic. 🙂

What’s your background and education?
I’m a “small town girl” from upstate New York.  I earned a Bachelors in Mathematics from the University of Rochester (where I also played varsity lacrosse) and a Masters in Operations Research from North Carolina State University. Having grown up acting and singing in community theater, and through my experience teaching as a graduate student at NC State, I knew I wanted to find a profession where I could combine my presentation skills with my technical background. So, I’ve spent my career working with customers, showing them how to apply analytics to solve complex problems – anything from optimizing their supply chain to combating tax fraud.

What skills help you most in your career?
Communication! So often people who work in technology, whether data scientists or in IT, have a reputation for not being able to easily communicate technical ideas to non-technical people.  My experience teaching pre-calculus at NC State was where I learned that people have a variety of learning styles; the way to really make an impact is to explain things in a few different ways so that the concepts resonate with all different types of learners. Since I spend every day talking about technology and analytics, I wouldn’t be effective without the communication skills I learned all those years ago.

When did you figure out what career you wanted?
I’ve always been a huge computer nerd! In fact, my mom says that instead of napping at daycare, I used to teach the other kids how to play games on the computers. This technological curiosity, mixed with my interests in math and science, eventually led me to SAS – where analytics and technology intersect.

What’s yourrachel_bike biggest accomplishment thus far?
Rachel: I rode my bicycle from Prague in the Czech Republic to Vienna, Austria and then on to Budapest, Hungary with my father in 2013. Not only was it an amazing experience to see the beautiful countries but it taught me a lot about mental toughness and how far I can push my body. We rode at least 50 miles a day, often with 2,000 vertical feet of climbing on bikes packed with at least 50 lbs of gear – on the bright side I could snack and eat as much as I wanted! Sharing that once-in-a-lifetime experience with my father was priceless.

What’s your favorite thing to do when not working?
I love the outdoors. Camping, hiking, skiing, biking (obviously) – you name, it I’ll do it (except skydiving). I’ve visited some of the most beautiful national parks over the last couple of years and hope to someday visit every one in the US! If you haven’t been to Yosemite, what are you waiting for?!

What are you most looking forward to at Strata + Hadoop World NYC?
I enjoy talking to people who are real innovators. The best and brightest come to this conference, and it’s an honor to be able to talk to them about some of the exciting things in the world of analytics and modeling at scale.

What software/techniques are you excited to show attendees?
SAS Factory Miner just came out this summer and there is a lot of buzz surrounding it. Factory Style, automated model building, will really help organizations to increase data scientist productivity and create more accurate models.

For more from Rachel, see her interview with KDnuggets on Why Data Science Needs Communication Skills. And be sure to watch her keynote presentation from Strata + Hadoop World 2014.

Please stop by the SAS booth (#543) to talk to Rachel, grab a cup of coffee and meet the rest of the team. And don’t miss Paul Kent’s session on Thursday morning, Oct. 1: Patterns from the Future.


About Author

Brooke Fortson

Marketing Specialist

Hi, I’m Brooke Fortson. I’m a wife, mother and marketing guru who runs on coffee, Skittles and laughter. I graduated from NC State University in 2003 with a B.S. in Business Management and a concentration in Marketing. Before coming to SAS, I worked for a gourmet candy company, a newspaper publisher and a real estate boutique. I am now a marketing specialist in the SAS Americas Marketing and Support division, focusing on the promotion of data management and Hadoop. I’m lucky to have the opportunity to do what I love best, every day: communicate great ideas in fresh, unexpected ways. My favorite color is green, my best dance move is the Sprinkler and my happy song is “Boogie Shoes” by K.C. and the Sunshine Band. That’s my story.

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