The Day I Got My Cape

About halfway through my time at Wells Fargo, I had become one of the top analysts at the bank. My ability to take on any data project and deliver results on time and on budget established my reputation and gave me credibility to speak frankly with senior executives

Now what I mean by “the day I got my cape”. That was the day I realized that my skills as an analyst, as somebody who works with data, had become somewhat superhuman.

I had previously shared the lead up to the unveiling oh my superhero story. After acquiring Wachovia, Wells Fargo was poised to launch the Express Send remittance service in Miami. I had shared my concerns and even though the data was clear, I was outvoted.

At the end of the meeting, my boss came to me, and my boss; who I had been working for quite a while, and when I raised my hand in a staff meeting to talk about something to do with data, I was usually right. However he pointed out to me, I had talked about a problem but I didn’t offer a solution and he says you know what Daniel, “If we’re going to not launch in Miami you got to follow up with an answer of where we going to launch and why. As well as why should we move it based on solid financials”.

My reply was, “you’re right, I know I need to go back and do some more research”. He told me that I had a couple days go do some research, to figure this out. He said if we have a good business case to move it, we would run it up the flagpole and see what happens. So, I went back to my cubicle, I started crunching numbers, pulling data, basically what I found was indeed the truth. I was right that if we were to launch in Miami. We would not have a very big population of ready to send users. People that are used to us and, our brand that trust has to send money overseas.

It would be something that it would have to take a while for people to adopt to our brand. I started looking for areas where there were other populations, that were more representative of what we had to do traditionally. I came across a couple, if you look at the demographics of Florida in the Orlando and Tampa areas in the middle of the state, there’s a lot more people that have migrated from Central America and Mexico. A lot of them migrated there to work in agriculture, to work in more labor-intensive industries.

I took data form the U.S. Census and I blended that with projections on adoption rates based on the traditional Wells Fargo footprint. I used IBM-Cognos and SQL queries from the banks central data bases to extract the data I needed to build a financial model. The model illustrated that we would make 3x as much over the first three years in remittance transfers in Florida if we started in Central Florida as opposed to South Florida. To bring it all together I used a new software, Tableau, to build a map and supporting visuals. I was ready for round two and this time I had my powers.

So, I took that information and I put together a presentation, and I walked to my boss. He said, “great OK let’s go ahead and talk to the boss about this”, so when my boss said to THE boss that means we are talking to top executives at the bank, including the CEO.

The next day I presented this data and I did it in a new way for me. I built a narrative around the whole challenge we had and used the data told us what we should do. I illustrated with the Tableau map, what the expected benefits of West Orlando instead of Miami. When we did that, we would see a much greater adoption rate, we would see much greater financial benefit much sooner than if we were to launch in the Miami area.

My slides and the data and visuals on them where very convincing. But that was the appeal to the head. I also shared the impact that my suggestion would have not only on the bank bottom line, but the difference it would make to our customers and their families. When I did all that, I put this whole overarching narrative together and what was able to do what we now call data storytelling.

That is a superpower in even more demand today that it was 10 years ago. Being able to write code, to build data models and to work with millions of data points are all very powerful tools in the hands of a good analyst. But data storytelling in my hands, that is a superpower.

Oh, and one more point, mostly because of my work on the merger, I got a really huge bonus that year.

Daniel Meyer heads Sonic Analytics, an analytics firm with offices in Manila, the San Francisco Bay Area and Ocala, FL. With over 20 years in Big Data, Dan is one of the most sought-after public speakers in Asia and offers big data coaching and analytics training seminars on both sides of the Pacific. Dan has also recently joined the Powerteam International family as a small business analytics resource speaker.

Sonic Analytics( brings big data analytics solutions like business intelligence, business dashboards and data storytelling to small and medium sized organizations looking to enhance their data-driven decision-making capabilities. We also advocate the use of analytics for civic responsibility through training, consulting and education.

As citizens of this great democracy, we need to look at the data (analytics), plan a course of action (strategy) and share our data-driven viewpoints (presentation). This approach to a data savvy work force starts in school. So, we started an internship program to empower our youth to use Analytics, plan Strategy and Present their insights… ASP!

When not training current and future analysts, you can find Dan championing the use of analytics to empower data-driven citizenship by volunteering his expertise with schools and non-profits dedicated to evidence-based social progress like Saint Leo University’s Women in STEAM 2020 Conference.