Aura Popa, a statistical consultant, was mentored by Leo when she was a GradStat. She now has full CStat accreditation and plans to become a mentor herself.
Q: How were you introduced to Leo?
A: I applied for a mentor through the RSS. Because on the application I mentioned that I wanted a mentor with specific experience in market research, I had to wait about 2-3 years until I received an email from RSS asking me if I am still interested in the scheme. My reply was an instant yes, because I believe that you should have a mentor no matter of how advanced your stage in your career is.
Q: Was there a formal process for you to follow or did you decide a strategy between you?
A: We both read the guide that is provided by RSS on how a mentee and a mentor should collaborate during this period. There were two stages: the first was to have a phone call that was more structured like an interview, where each of us presented themselves to each other and what we are expecting from and envisage this mentorship. The second stage was a face-to-face meeting in which we discussed our expectations and sketch up a plan of the topics we should go through.
Q: How often were you in touch with each other?
A: The frequency could vary from daily to every fortnight depending on the topic I was working on and I wanted to have a sounding board on certain analytical steps with my mentor. We communicated a lot through email; we had monthly meetings and sometimes we replaced them with Skype calls when our schedules were hectic.
Q: What sorts of things did Leo help you with?
A: Each of our monthly meetings would have been a topic that would have three main parts: an analytical methodology, around career progression and around consulting and soft skills.
We would choose an analytical technique or methodology and break it down in steps, bringing examples from our own experience and sharing thoughts and what novelties we found out about that specific topic, from SPSS syntax to articles or scientific papers.
My mentorship came at a time when my manager wouldn’t have such advanced analytics skills, so Leo would challenge me to think about my career progression and development, how I envisage the perfect work place and to work towards that ideal situation.
Another area in which we collaborated a lot was around consulting and soft skills, in which I honed my ability to break down information into smaller pieces for a wider audience, so they can understand how a piece of advance analytics is developed and what the outcome is. Statisticians are often so focused in learning new programming language or techniques that they forget the end purpose of their work is to make people understand the facts being analysed.
Q: What have been the most useful things you have learned from Leo?
A: From the first few meetings Leo recommended me to attend the RSS International Conference and that had a great impact on my learning and knowledge of what is out there - that there are hundreds of statisticians who share their insights and it is a great networking place. I loved it so much I have been to every conference since, and I am looking forward this year to the Belfast one! Leo also recommended attending as many RSS events and other conferences in London on around big data and data science in marketing. However, in time this has become reciprocal and we now share a lot of information.
After I finished my mentorship and got my Charted Statistician status, Leo advise me to become a mentor myself. I am very happy that in that way I can pay back the benefits that I got from being a member of the RSS.