Achieving the Last Mile: How To Use Data Storytelling to Drive Decision-Making with Heather Fitzgerald, Ep #16

In this episode of Tech Talent Today, I’m delighted to be joined by Heather Fitzgerald. Heather is an SVP of Business Intelligence and CRM Strategy for a large retirement and financial services firm. With over 20 years in driving innovative global solutions and data-driven insights, she has deep expertise in business automation, data technology platforms, digital transformation, sales, marketing, and storytelling. Listen as she shares her passion for providing holistic data, measurements, and insights to tie online and offline platforms for insight-driven storytelling.

You will want to hear this episode if you are interested in…

  • Bringing everything together [02:34]
  • What is a data storyteller? [04:37]
  • Connecting business and technology [08:42]
  • Insights in resumes [12:41]
  • Heather’s journey to data science [16:21]
  • Retention of employees [18:27]

Data storytelling

Information and data surround us in our personal and professional lives, and sometimes the amount of information can be challenging to sift through. Automation, technology, and innovation can extrapolate data, but more must be done. The final step is synthesizing data to translate and understand what those numbers actually mean. Combining data with a narrative and visualization will influence the decision makers’ minds. That is data storytelling.

Data storytelling requires someone who can take an organization’s information, understand it, and communicate it with actionable recommendations. The individual needs to understand the technology, innovation, where the data comes from, and if the data is accurate. To translate that information and bring it to life for the organization, that person must also understand its business side.

Starting the last mile

The data space has been hot for over a decade. However, many companies have missed considering data storytelling, much less hired for it. They tend to keep their business intelligence and analytics people on the tech side of the organization. While that’s where the majority of resources should be, understanding the business side of things is also imperative for context, to be able to ask the right questions, and to be able to structure data in the best way for the business.

The business and technology teams must have a natural synergy and connection, which could look like cross-functional meetings or cross-functional education and training. The Agile process allows for that type of collaboration. When product owners understand the business side, they can help and guide everybody on the technical end in developing the best business-centric products possible.

Finding a data storyteller

Data-related careers aren’t limited to people with technical education or a data science degree. When Heather graduated college as a political economy major, she had no idea she would end up in data analytics. As a result of her degree, she gained exposure to the economic side, giving her an immersion into numbers and stats. One of the requirements within the program was to have an internship, which she had at a company that was creating a brand new analytics function using first and second-party data. Since then, every role she’s had within an organization has been data-centric or analytics-centric.

Curiosity is the most important characteristic of someone in a data storytelling role. If people aren’t naturally curious, then there’s no way they’ll be curious about the numbers, reports, or information in their roles. They need to want to ask questions and be unafraid to dig into the numbers.

Curiosity is the most important characteristic of someone in a data storytelling role. #Curiosity #DataStorytelling Click To Tweet

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Heather Fitzgerald

Connect With Jodi Kulek Mayer

Subscribe to Tech Talent Today on
Apple PodcastsSpotifyGoogle Podcasts

Audio Production and Show notes by