Jill Dyche, currently Vice President of Best Practices at SAS Institute, is fairly well known in the data science arena. Prior to SAS Institute, Jill founded Baseline Consulting which was acquired by SAS Institute few years ago. I came across Jill personally when she responded to one of my published articles even though I know of Jill through her books and articles. Many of you may probably know her like me as the author of many books (e-Data, CRM handbook, Customer Data Integration, the New IT etc.) or as a writer on many well known publications such as HBR, Forbes, Newsweek etc.

But how many of you know that Jill started as a tech writer? How many of you know that she was an English major in college? Surprised? Or shocked may be? In this day and age when people are debating whether one Ph.D. is sufficient to get a foothold into data science, Jill proved through her experience that it’s not what degree you start with but what you learn lifelong and how you apply what you learn to solve business problems. If you want to know more on how she was able to accomplish what she did, you must listen to my podcast interview with Jill Dyche. The one word I kept coming back to is ‘fascinating’. Below is the link to the podcast. Some of the key nuggets from this podcast are listed below the podcast link.

Jill is an avid traveler. Not just visiting new places but actually living in those places. She lived in Paris, London, and Sydney apart from the US. She reminisces about her travel experiences and how they shaped her career in this podcast.

Each one of those experiences I think, enriched me both in my business life and my personal life.

So how Jill went from a tech writer at Honeywell to starting her consulting firm? By focusing on business intelligence and analytics ahead of others. In her own words,

We’re very much in analytics and eventually a data strategy company and so that was our niche and I think in a lot of ways we were ahead of our time but more importantly I think we were really filling a need in the marketplace that didn’t have a lot of other solutions.

So how did Jill grow this company into something that other companies wanted to acquire? Jill told us a fascinating story (yeah, I am using fascinating many times because that’s what her story is) about this chief analytics officer at a client encouraging them to talk more about the fantastic work they are delivering but not talking about it. Jill talks about that lesson and how she started matching skills not just in delivery but addressing the cultural needs of the companies as well.

What are some of the personality traits that led her to this success? In her own words, she was a rebel, questioning authority and adventurous. At the same time, Jill mentioned that she always kept her sense of humor to go along. For being a naughty kid, she was thankful to her parents for sticking with her. With a working mother as a role model (in those years), Jill said she learned to be independent at an early age.

We talked about her personal passion (rescuing shelter animals), her regrets (not travelling far for college), her innovative tip to navigate many social networks, and her advice to women. Some key tips are:

  • Don’t overthink an opportunity at the risk of missing it.
  • Go with the mentality that ‘Let me jump in and try that’.
  • Don’t sit at the periphery. Come to the table.

What are Jill’s thoughts on diversity? Having built a team of highly diverse skills, Jill talks passionately about not just gender diversity but neuro-diversity and skill diversity. She narrated from her personal story of how she compensates for areas that she needs help with by building teams with those skills.

Overall, my interview with Jill is extremely fascinating to say the least. I walked away with many nuggets and in awe of an inspiring personality.

So here is the link to the podcast again.

Ramesh Dontha
Ramesh Dontha is Managing Partner at Digital Transformation Pro, a management consulting and training organization focusing on Big Data, Data Strategy, Data Analytics, Data Governance/Quality and related Data management practices. For more than 15 years, Ramesh has put together successful strategies and implementation plans to meet/exceed business objectives and deliver business value. His personal passion is to demystify the intricacies of data related technologies and latest technology trends and make them applicable to business strategies and objectives. Ramesh can either be reached on LinkedIn or Twitter (@rkdontha1) or via email: rkdontha AT DigitalTransformationPro.com