30under30 Nominee George Young

We interviewed George Young who works at Media.Monks and is an Account Director in the Measurement team. George uses data science to drive insights for a variety of clients and help maximise their efficiency of their marketing.

Take us through your industry journey so far? How did you arrive at this point?

At university I studied mathematics and focused on statistics, which was where I felt could apply what we were learning to relatable, real-world problems. I got an internship with the local council using my new found knowledge to help them understand how external factors (such as economic indicators) led to a greater need for the support provided by council resources. This was a big learning curve, going from understanding the concepts you learn at university to applying this to complex real-world data and driving actual commercial value.

After graduating I originally joined the industry through a media agency as part of the data and research team. We were a small department amongst the big machine of media planning and buying, but we had a big influence on the wider business through the insights we could deliver. I was lucky enough to spend the first three months of my career rotating around the different departments which gave me an understanding of the many different teams within marketing. This helped me understand where the research and data teams fit into the overall process, which was important context when I began my role. It was key for me to understand what the teams needed from me and how to speak their language.

In 2018 I joined Brightblue Consulting, a specialist predictive modelling consultancy. At the time we were a relatively small team of around twenty people and I was excited for the opportunity to join a company focused on generating data driven insight more efficiently (through investment in technology) paired with clear, actionable storytelling. The company have continued on a fast-paced growth trajectory and recently we merged with Media.Monks, bringing with it new opportunities as we pair up our skills with other teams across the wider business.

So, what’s so inspiring about our industry?

There’s a nice quote about statistics that “the best thing about being a statistician is that you get to play in everyone’s backyard.” Even though it’s a big cheesy, I usually use that quote when I’m talking to people about why I like the industry and I think it applies more broadly to all areas of research. I love the ability to apply what we learn across almost any sector and any discipline and I don’t think there are many other roles that give you that freedom. Not only does the industry allow you to apply value to most businesses or organisations but you also get to understand a wide variety of interesting markets and problems. Across my career to date I’ve been able to work with clients in sectors as wide-ranging as transport, FMCG, luxury retail, insurance and adult toys. Quite the variety and you’re always learning something new about the world!

What message do you have for anyone considering a career in our industry?

Get involved! Getting as much experience as you can early on will be really beneficial. Working with real data sets and real-world problems will very quickly start to give you the toolkit to tackle common challenges and driving practical, implementable insights. For me my first placement helped confirm that this was the career I wanted to work in. However, this also highlights the importance that companies offer paid work experience so that the industry is more accessible to a wide range of backgrounds.

It also doesn’t matter what industry or client you get that experience on. Even if you’re generating your insights in a new industry that you might not work in again, the techniques and workplace skills that you learn will be transferable later on. As you work across a wide variety of different types of projects, you’ll be able to get a feel for your own style of presenting and quickly build your confidence applying your knowledge to new industries and new problems.

How do very junior researchers stand out?

Working on the data side of insights and research, the biggest pieces of advice I would give is to focus on the insights you’re generating and turn that into a clear and engaging story. It can be easy as an analyst when you’re debriefing a piece of work to focus too much on the technical outputs or the methodology of how you reached your findings (as that’s what we spend most of our time working on). But at the end of the day the client primarily wants to understand the results and recommendations they can use to optimise their business. And if your story isn’t both clear and engaging, people won’t listen and your recommendations won’t get deployed. Someone who has the ability to carry out a piece of research or build a model whilst focusing on the most important or interesting areas is certainly one of the biggest standout skills to me!

I’d also say it’s important to stay inquisitive. The people who I’ve worked with who really stand out (including lots of the amazing Media.Monks team) are those who are constantly testing different hypothesises within their work and clearly engaged with the questions they’re setting out to answer. That enthusiasm is infectious and makes the work more enjoyable as a result. It also means you’re more likely to spot things that other people might not pick up on or consider.