May 24, 2023

Beyond the Data: Sunny Yan, Analytics Consultant

By Mitch Rudolph

Roll up, roll up, and step right into Beyond the Data! It’s our ongoing extravaganza spotlighting the sensational individuals whose sparkle gives phData its shine.

In today’s episode, we’re rolling out the red carpet for someone whose impact on phData has been nothing short of extraordinary. Drumroll, please… It’s Sunny Yan!

When you’re as adept at dazzling clients with your supreme tech talents, prowess, and versatility as Sunny, you’re bound to turn heads and win hearts. As an accomplished Analytics Consultant, Sunny has a knack for leaving our treasured clients with a ‘wow’ and a smile.

But wait, there’s more! What elevates Sunny into a league of his own is his steadfast commitment to lending a helping hand and his readiness to leap beyond expectations. His team spirit and collaborative gusto shine bright, making him a gem in the phData treasure chest.

So, grab your popcorn and settle in as we delve into the intriguing tale of Sunny Yan!

Tell us your name, where you’re from, and a little about you

Hi, my name is Sunny Yan. I’m from Monterey, California, and I currently live in Boston, Massachusetts. Growing up, golf was my main hobby. I played competitively throughout my childhood before eventually playing Division 1 Collegiate golf at Columbia University in New York.

During my time at Columbia, I was first introduced to analytics.

The godfather of golf analytics–Mark Broadie, who invented the revolutionary golf statistic, strokes gained– was a professor at Columbia, and I had the privilege of meeting him. I was immediately intrigued by the idea of analytics and the power that it had.

After graduating from Columbia with a degree in Political Science, I still wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my career, so I started my career in Sales as a BDR. Unfortunately, I started that role right as the Covid pandemic began in 2020. Our sales organization experienced heavy layoffs, and I was included in this.

After my stint in sales, I decided to pivot to my true passion, which was analytics. I began taking online courses on Python, SQL, and Tableau for data visualization. While studying analytics, I discovered the Associate Consultant position at Tessellation–later acquired by phData–from LinkedIn. The role advertised hiring professionals who had no experience in the analytics industry but had shown a proven ability to learn and were hungry for a career in analytics. I thought it was too good to be true, but I applied anyway. Thankfully it was a real position!

Fast forwarding to now, I’ve just hit my two-year anniversary mark here at phData and have loved every minute of it!

What do you actually do on any given day as an Analytics Consultant?

Now this is a tough question. My go-to answer to anything consulting related is always, “It depends.” You never know what issues you will face on a given day and have to be prepared for any scenarios. To generalize, most of my work involves creating BI reports using Tableau and building data workflows with Alteryx/KNIME to prepare the data sources that feed the BI reports.

In addition to my consulting responsibilities, I also manage a team of two talented associate consultants–Francisco Astarloa and Charlie Hekma– I help them with any questions and try to provide them with any guidance they need. I often find myself learning from them! I really enjoy this aspect of my role here.

I also co-lead our technological partnership with Fivetran along with my colleague Sam Hall. This involves creating marketing content such as blogs and whitepapers, as well as attending conferences and aiding with sales efforts.

To summarize, I have no idea what I will do on a given day! And I love that aspect of being an analytics consultant.

How do you like working for a consulting company?

I enjoy working for a consulting company a lot! The opportunity to be a part of many different projects keeps the working experience fresh.

I have worked on a diverse range of different projects across many industries and departments. It feels like I’ve been exposed to industries ranging from CPG/Retail, Telecom, and Manufacturing. I enjoy using different parts of my brain depending on what industry/department I’m working with.

I also enjoy problem-solving and coming up with creative solutions for issues that our clients are facing. I find it rewarding when an answer presents itself, and I am able to solve vexing problems for our clients. They are often very thankful for the help, and I enjoy this interpersonal aspect of working as a consultant.

What separates phData from other jobs you’ve had?

The biggest separator at phData is the number of opportunities and room for growth that are present here. The things that I’ve gotten to do over the past few years have been awesome! I don’t think many other organizations would have hired someone like me who had no previous analytical experience and given me all the resources and support needed to allow me to develop my skills.

The most incredible experience that I’ve had here at phData–that I don’t think I’d have the opportunity to do at other jobs–was getting to speak at the KNIME Conference along with my stakeholder at Procter & Gamble about the project that we worked on together. It was awesome getting a chance to share our experiences, and really cool for me to speak in front of a large audience.

Besides the opportunities from a professional perspective, the thing that separates phData is the people. While cliche, I truly believe we have the best people here at phData. Everyone is so genuine and supportive, willing to lend a helping hand at the drop of a hat. Not only that, it’s a fun group! An example of this is after the KNIME conference at the University of Texas-Austin, my colleague John Emery and I had the opportunity to go to a basketball game and storm the court together. What an awesome experience!

How has your job evolved over the past few years?

My job has evolved significantly over the past two years that I’ve been at the company. When I started as an associate consultant, my primary focus was skilling up on my technical and soft skills. From there, it was making sure I could provide the best support possible for the different client projects that I was staffed on.

Now my responsibilities have grown significantly. I lead a team of two associate consultants and also co-lead a tech partnership with Fivetran. I am excited for all that’s to come next!

Outside of work, what's your life like? What do you do for fun?

Outside of work, I like to stay active by playing sports. My main two hobbies are playing pickup basketball and golf. I recently started playing golf left-handed (I’m naturally right-handed) to challenge myself and to re-learn the game. I have really enjoyed this experience so far, and I will continue to work on this for many years to come.

Besides staying active, I enjoy spending time with my long-time girlfriend and hanging out with friends and family. I also enjoy traveling. I had the opportunity to go to Iceland last summer, and it was one of the coolest experiences of my life.

What is your favorite type of cuisine? And where is the best place to enjoy it?

My favorite food is definitely pizza, and the best place to enjoy it is definitely New York! I had the opportunity to live in New York for 7 years and ate plenty of late-night slices. There are no bad options for pizza in New York. But my favorite is Joe’s Pizza in Greenwich Village.

Where's the next place you'd like to travel to, and what would be the first thing you'd do there?

The next place I’d love to travel to is Italy. I’ve never had the chance to go and have been dying for the opportunity. As I mentioned before, I love pizza, so eating authentic Italian Pizza is the first thing I’d do when I get there. After that, I’d enjoy eating all the other wonderful foods that Italy has to offer.

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