Most Impactful Ways To Becoming a Great Analyst

As a follow up to a survey I sent to several hundred of my LinkedIn connections a few months back. I sent the survey to connections working with data analytics on a regular basis.

I told them I was talking with a young professional just getting started in his analytics career. During our conversation we discussed what is most important to being a great analyst. I asked for their opinion, of the following ways to learn about analytics, which one has been the most important in your career path?

  1. Formal Education – A degree or certificate in an analytics related field.
  2. Self-Learning – Using trial and error and online resources.
  3. Subject Matter Experts – Being trained/mentored by an expert.
  4. Seminars/Workshops – Attending events to acquire new knowledge.
  5. Technical Training – Attend training on specific technical areas.
  6. Other – Please provide a brief description


Here are some pearls of wisdom from some of the replies I got… keep in mind these are all from well established analytics professionals:

“the most important in my career path is self-learning as most of the things we’re doing like journal reading and implementing algorithms needs less dependency with the people you are working with but requires collaboration with them and this requires you to solve problems by yourself and implement things by yourself but communicate them properly to the people you’re working with.”

If you don’t have the drive to do this, you will be an analyst in name only.

“Self-Learning – Using trial and error and online resources. World changes too fast for any of those others to matter.”

In the 15 years I have been doing analytics without any formal education in data-related fields I can say that this is 100% true. To be a great analyst you have to always been learning.

“your ability to tell the story behind all the numbers will make you an indispensable asset and an outlier in the increasingly growing population of analysts. Management almost always don’t have the time to read all the numbers in tables, spreadsheets, and reports, but they will surely appreciate instantly seeing the big picture presented in a “one-pager” report prepared by analysts. That almost always makes an analyst “great” in the eyes of the report consumers.”

Yes! If what you spend your blood, sweat and tears on does influence decisions, then you are working on the wrong place.

#2 and #3 have been important. Having a mentor to coach you side by side gives you accountability to progress in your work and learning curve. Naturally, this will push you to self-learn: trying out what you’ve learned and testing.”

Having a mentor is so important to help you get access to the actual learning experiences you need to evolve and excel as an analyst.

“spending time with the consumers of the analytics is especially important. Learning how they look at the data, and/or want to look at the data. What is important to them. What really matters. Too much non-essential information and you’ll loose them. Targeting their needs with relevance and precision will win them.”

Another big point that is often overlooked, if you are spending time producing repots and they don’t take customer insights into account, you have a big blindside.

“The most important thing to being a great analyst is to have a great sense of awareness. For me, self-learning has been the most important.”

I cannot imagine anyone being a great analyst if you didn’t have at least a bit of an ego mixed in with a Superman complex. Great analysts live to fix things.

It’s interesting to note that only 2 of the 50+ replies I got form surveying my LinkedIn connections said formal education is the most important.


Analytics Survey – DMAIPH conducts quarterly analytics surveys to collect data on current trends in analytics. We specialize in surveys that assess analytics culture and measuring how aligned an organization is to using data and analytics  in its decision-making. Contact DMAIPH now at or connect with me directly to find out more about how DMAIPH can conduct surveys to help you assess the analytics culture in your business.




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