Stephanie Camello was born on October 11th in Harbor City, in California’s Los Angeles County. She completed her early education at a Catholic elementary school, then attended San Pedro High School, where she took Honors classes and played for the Varsity tennis team. Stephanie then attended El Camino College for two years, before moving on to the Marshall School of Business at the University of Southern California. Her outstanding performance at University drew the attention of recruiters from the global media agency Initiative, where she earned a paid internship for two years before being hired on as a full-time data analyst in 2014. Stephanie quickly rose in rank in the company, from intern at 21 years of age through to Senior Data Analyst at 24. She has worked for several agencies with a wide range of high-profile clients since then, and she is currently reviewing her options for future endeavors in the field of marketing data analytics.
Where did the idea for your career come from?
When I was studying at Marshall School of Business, I found that I really enjoyed marketing, and my internship experience at Initiative only reinforced that feeling. I think I kind of stumbled across it, but I think that I stumbled across what I was meant to do. Analytics is the job for me. I’m organized, I’m very analytical in my way of thinking, and I really just enjoy the work. And I’m grateful that I was given the opportunity, with Initiative, to prove myself at such an early stage of my career.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
First thing in the morning, I check my email. I follow up on emails, whether it’s about projects that carry over from yesterday, or updates from colleagues in different time zones that came in overnight. Data flows in constantly throughout the week, and I’ve got to keep up with it as it comes in and keep it organized. I maintain my calendar throughout the day, checking things off when they’re done, making notes of things as they come in, watching deadlines—all that sort of thing. Then I craft and lay out the relevant schedules in Excel, or on a calendar, or in email form—whichever makes it easiest to share with the people I’m working with—to ensure that we meet deadlines. Scheduling is important, and I share these schedules daily. And then there are the meetings, the ad hoc reports or client requests, and things that don’t always appear on the calendar. Through all that, I provide myself chunks of time to work. For example, I’ll set aside a 2 hour block of time to work on a particular report, prior to the day’s meeting.
How do you bring ideas to life?
First, I take the data, and I visualize it. I put it in a chart. That could be a pie chart, a trending chart, a bar chart, whatever is appropriate for the data being presented. Once the data is in a digestible format, I look at it, and figure out what it has to tell me—what the story is. For example, someone might ask you whether ticket sales are up from this time last year, and if you just look at a bunch of rows of data, it’s not going to tell you the answer. You have to take the data and put it in a chart. For this example, I would make a bar chart, or a trending chart, with the month on the bottom and two lines per month. One line shows the ticket sales for that month of last year, and the other line shows the ticket sales for that month of this year. Now, you can easily see the answer to the question. So, I bring ideas to life by taking the data and using it to demonstrate the answers to these questions in an easily understandable format.
What’s one trend that excites you?
I love that I can see current events and the news on LinkedIn. It’s good to be aware of what’s going on, both in your field and in the wider world. You want to be aware of what’s going on, whether it’s good or bad, because then you’re able to speak about it and communicate effectively on the topic.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Organization. Keeping my calendars up to date, making lists, and keeping track of when things are getting done. I also find that it helps to keep track of things physically, on paper. I like to see my plans on paper, and physically check things off the list when they’re done. That’s how I keep things on track.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I think I would tell my younger self not to be so cocky. Early on, I felt special, because of the way I was brought on in my first job. I felt like I was great at my job right from the word ‘go’. But that wasn’t true, and I had to learn to keep my mind open to that. As a professional, you have to always be working to improve yourself, always be open to advice and critique, and always be respectful. Think about how your actions affect others, and be humble. These are lessons I’ve taken to heart now, but that I could have learned sooner.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
It often happens in my field that someone won’t believe that a change has happened, or that someone will make a wild claim that isn’t necessarily backed up by the data. It’s my job to take the data, to show what’s really happening, and to be able to prove it with the numbers. Facts are facts, but opinions are like art—you can interpret them however you want. The facts will match the data.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Always double check, or when you can, triple check your work. You need to be prepared when a client calls and says that something doesn’t look right. You need to either quickly find the problem and fix it, or if there’s no problem after all, demonstrate clearly that the data says so. Everyone is wrong sometimes, but you’ve got to double and triple check your work to minimize that as much as you can. And don’t be afraid to get a fresh pair of eyes on your work. You might miss something obvious because you’ve been staring at your work for too long. Different perspectives, sometimes even from colleagues in different disciplines, can be invaluable.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
I stay up to date on the news, and on any new findings and learnings in my industry. I read business articles from the Wall Street Journal, for example—anything that is pertinent to my industry, but also information from outside of my industry. Gas prices, the pandemic, major weather events, many things can impact the businesses I’m working with. I also keep up with new software releases that are relevant to my position. Let’s say a new Tableau update is released. If I don’t know about it, I won’t know whether it’s worth upgrading to, or how it might impact my productivity.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I think the biggest challenge I had in my career was learning to understand and keep track of all of the various clients’ needs, even when they’re within the same organization. At one point, we had 40+ clients from the same large organization and they were all working on different things. One client worked on a cruise line, another worked on hotels, and so on and so forth. Even though they were all working for the same parent company, they all had specific individual goals. Selling a cruise ticket isn’t the same as selling a night at a hotel. The clients had different needs, and required different strategies and different ways of presenting the data, and I had to learn how to understand and meet all of these different needs. Early on I had to use a lot of trial and error through necessity, but that’s a really quick way to learn.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
If I could, I would create a one source database that has everything a client would want, instead of having to pull things from a bunch of different places, different programs, different formats, and so on. If I had such a thing to give people, I think that would take off.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I give monthly to my Catholic church, and considering the times we’re in now, I think it’s particularly useful to help the parish. They’re very traditional, which I like. They want to bring back old-fashioned values. So I think helping them is beneficial because I like the goals that they try to achieve. Even though I’m not getting anything in return, it’s worthwhile for me to donate to a cause I believe in.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
I’m a data analyst so I have to go with Excel here. It’s versatile. It’s a spreadsheet of course, but it’s also capable of making charts and other ways to visualize data. It’s not quite as visually appealing as Tableau, but Tableau doesn’t have the ability to pivot as easily as Excel does. It also helps that Excel is in the Microsoft Suite, so it’s easy to copy things to PowerPoint for the other teams I work with since it’s all programmed by Microsoft. I use Excel every day, and you can’t succeed in this field without mastering it. But it’s useful for a lot of things, personal and professional, not just marketing data analysis.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Sarah Bishop by Scott O’Dell. It’s about a farm girl in the Revolutionary War era, who lost her father and brother in the war and had to learn to fend for herself in the wilderness. I think we could learn a lot from Sarah Bishop, about being able to fend for yourself, being able to defend yourself and the quality of your work when necessary, and about forging new bonds.
What is your favorite quote?
“If you can dream it, you can do it.” — Walt Disney
- Take the time and put in the effort to master the tools of your trade.
- Stay organized. Make plans and keep schedules to keep yourself on track.
- Make sure to understand your clients, their needs, and what they expect from your services.
- Maintain a strong awareness of current events and how the news might impact your work.
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.