Welcome to the “The Ask,” a content series that gets up close and personal with the people of Weber Shandwick Seattle. This month, we spent some time getting to know Reese McGillie, our master of analysis for Weber’s entire West Coast operation.
Hello, Reese! Tell us what you do!
I lead the analytics capability for the West region of Weber Shandwick. We use a variety of tools, technologies and analytics to generate valuable insights that inform communication strategies and help us evaluate program outcomes for our clients.
We Googled you, and you’re kind of a big deal. How did you start your career in analytics?
I started at a global digital marketing agency. I had built a career in software development and testing, but it was no longer something that I enjoyed, so I sought to make a change. And the more I learned about analytics, the more I realized that it would be the kind of work that was most interesting to me.
You’ve worked with a lot of impressive agencies. What about Weber Shandwick appealed to you?
This opportunity gives me the chance to apply my analytics skills in another dimension: communications. While there are similarities between analytics for marketing and analytics for PR or communications, there are lots of interesting differences, including working with different types of data.
Rumor has it you’re quite the yogi. Are yoga and data like yin and yang? Or do they have anything in common?
I’ve practiced yoga for about seven years now, and I became a yoga teacher two and a half years ago. My brain is always going, always flooded with thoughts and ideas. Data work has always felt very natural to me, because it requires a really strong ability to maintain multiple threads of cognition at the same time. But the trouble is that sometimes I’d really like to be able to turn that off. Yoga helps with that, whether it is the practice of meditation or focus on breath and intentional movements. I often find that I am better equipped to solve problems after a yoga practice — and that is a beautiful thing, because analytics is all about problem solving.
How do you keep up to date with analytics trends?
I absolutely love Nate Silver’s blog FiveThirtyEight and the data visualization blog Information is Beautiful. I also have lots of friends who are analysts, so we share info about new tools and approaches with each other all the time.
Any advice to graduates or junior staffers who are analytics focused, or to people looking to shift toward analytics?
While it’s critical to know analytics tools, the best analysts have really high emotional intelligence. They are strong communicators who have a deep level of intellectual curiosity. They are very good at prioritizing work that brings the most value, as opposed to purely academic or frivolous efforts. I encourage folks new to this field to develop strong mentor relationships with very experienced people who are working in analytics. They can get coaching and guidance on how to apply their soft skills while still valuing tools and technology.