Dave Mariani: Hi everyone, and welcome to another episode of, AtScale’s Data Driven podcast. And today’s special guest is Jess Ramos. And Jess is the senior data analyst at Crunchbase. So Jess, welcome to the podcast.
Jess Ramos: Hi. Thanks for having me. I’m excited to be here.
Dave Mariani: Great. So we have some really interesting things to talk about today cuz you have a really cool background when it comes to, in being a woman in tech, in finance, in, you know, doing data science, lots of analytics, BI. So you have a really nice sort of cross section of a bunch of different things that I think the, I think our listeners are gonna be really interested to hear about. So, so let’s just dive right in. And if you wouldn’t mind, Jess, just talk a little bit about your background, and how you got to where you are today. What was your path
Jess Ramos: Yeah, so I’m gonna make this as short as possible so I don’t talk forever about my whole story, but I studied math and Spanish in undergrad and I didn’t really know what to do with my math degree. I knew I loved learning math and doing that logical thinking, but I didn’t know how to turn that into a career. So I stayed on campus my senior year over the summer, and I was looking for any job on campus, like I needed to pay my bills and make minimum wage. And I found myself working in the enrollment management office as a data analyst. And there, that’s where I just really started learning Excel and data cleaning, learning how to draw insights from data. And that was my first start into data analytics. And then I also took a class my, I think my junior year, senior year, but I took a class called Info Systems in undergrad as well.
Jess Ramos: And that was my first exposure to kind of the business computer sciencey crossover. And there I learned more about data analytics as well, and it just really ignited like this excitement for data within me that I didn’t know I had, because I didn’t even know that data was a possible career to go into mm-hmm. So from there I just knew that my learning wasn’t done. I knew that I wanted to learn more about data and I still had this math degree that I didn’t know how to apply to business. So from there I went and got my master’s in business analytics and then that just prepared me super well for my career. And while I was getting my master’s, I started as a data analyst intern in a FinTech startup. And from there it was history. I grew within that company, left, moved on to Freddie Mac, left there, and now I’m at Crunchbase.
Dave Mariani: So I have so many questions to ask you about that because, you know, really sort of, sort of backing all the way up. First of all, you know, you, you obviously took an interest in stem, and, I, you know, I have a daughter, and, and you know, I was, you know, in a startup obviously starting AtScale as a technical startup. So definitely tech was all over the household, but stem work really never was top of mind. So what was different about you, in terms of being interested in math and ultimately pursuing sort of a, a, a career in, in data and analytics
Jess Ramos: Yeah, I think for me, I’ve always been the person to take the path less traveled. Mm-hmm. I’ve always wanted to do things the hard way. I’m very stubborn. I don’t wanna go do something if it’s easy because it’s not as fun and satisfying. Not to say that non stem jobs are easy, but I wanted to do the thing that a lot of women weren’t doing. And I was really lucky when I went to my undergrad college, I got a math scholarship mm-hmm. Which is like, kind of crazy to think about, but, because of that scholarship I had to either major or minor in math. So I was definitely getting that minor just to keep my scholarship. And then I was like, you know, I kind of wanna keep going with this. Like, there aren’t a lot of women majoring in math. There aren’t even a lot of people in general majoring in math. And I just saw that accomplishment of doing something that not many people and women were doing. And I just went for it. And a lot of it, I didn’t even have a plan for what I wanted to do with my degree. I just knew that I wanted that accomplishment. And then from there, finding myself in data analytics, I love being that person to, you know, encourage other women and kind of break the mold of what a data analyst should look like.
Dave Mariani: That’s a lot of how life happens. You know, for me, I was, an economics major at U ucla and here I am like in tech now. but it was really sort of my hobby was, and interest was always in writing code, but never knew. Like, you didn’t know there’s a, you could have a career in, in data. I didn’t know you could have a career in writing code. So I had to, I had to have had to have accidentally get into it without my first job. but you know, you know, when you talk about, you know, taking the, the path least traveled, you know, in, in, in my household we call it going against the grains. So it’s something that’s really part of our D n a, it, you know, if people are zigging, we’re zagging. but, you know, how is it that, how would you sort of, how would you encourage young, young women Because, we know that, women are as good or better in math that men are. so how would you encourage more women, to young girls, I should say, to, to look at that as a possible career opportunity or just a a a focus of their study
Jess Ramos: Yeah, a lot of it I think starts in schools. It starts with teachers encouraging women in these fields because as a young woman, a young woman, you get put into, like, into these molds mm-hmm. , you don’t necessarily see yourself in these fields because there’s not as much representation out there. Mm-hmm. . So that’s part of what I really like to do on LinkedIn and on the LinkedIn learning platform. I wanna be that representation. I wanna show young women, or even women that are older than me, I wanna show them that data analytics is the cool place for women to be. And you can do it by being yourself. And that sounds so cheesy, but you don’t have to try to fit the mold. Mm-hmm. , that’s what I did in college. I would plan the way I dressed based on what classes I had. If I had a 400 level math class that day, I was wearing like my boring, like, math major clothes because I didn’t wanna stand out too much. And now I like look back at that and I’m just like, sad for who that person was mm-hmm. because now I’m, I’m more myself and I’m more confident in who I am. But I think a lot of times women wanna like, you know, fit the mold and they’re too scared to, you know, be too feminine because they won’t be taken as seriously.
Dave Mariani: Yeah. I think it’s, having really good role models is really key, just like anything. Right. that’s what kids look up to. It’s, and, and having teachers to encourage that as well. So I think that’s, I think that’s definitely happening. So, so now, you know, when you think of like being a, you’re a leader, you’re a manager, a a builder of teams. So what advice would you give, leaders out there in terms of how to, to get, how, how to build that, that culture that includes and that includes more women in, in, in analytics and tech What, what would, what advice could, would you give companies or, or leaders to, to sort of help build that representation
Jess Ramos: Yeah. I think a lot of it comes down to culture. It comes down with the expectations at the company. So I think a big thing for me is I like not having to dress a certain way at work in the remote world. Not having, even though I did put on makeup today for this recording, I like being able to come to work as I am not feeling the pressure to dress, you know, very feminine and like, have my makeup on. Mm-hmm. , I think that takes a lot of pressure off women. Also, giving women the place to voice their experiences and really listening to them, not interrupting them on calls. making sure that women are paid the same as men and people of color as well. Making sure that everything is equitable. And I think a lot of those things also come down to the benefits at the company. And that’s one thing I really look for as a woman. I look for what’s the maternity leave policy, not that I’m trying to use anytime soon, but I think it speaks to how women are valued at a company.
Dave Mariani: That’s really, that’s really good advice. So what, what are some of the things that sort of you encountered along the way in your, in your journey, in your career and, and how’d you, how’d you deal with them
Jess Ramos: Yeah. I’ve definitely received comments from people. I’ve had, you know, guys at a company maybe comment on what I’m wearing, like, I like your pants, they look good on you. And, you know, questionable things like that. It’s like, would you tell another man the company liked his pants Probably not. You know, like that would be weird. So I think as a woman, sometimes you have to put up with people focusing on your physical appearance. Mm-hmm. , I don’t wanna know, well, maybe I do wanna know if you like my outfit, but I would rather , I would rather hear that you liked my presentation, you liked my work, you liked the insights I found you found intelligent insights. So I think just hearing those types of comments in the workplace are definitely hard. Mm-hmm. . And then also as women, sometimes we have to work twice as hard just to earn that respect, whereas men usually have it, you know, right at the very beginning.
Dave Mariani: Yeah. You know, along my career I, you know, when, especially in the very beginning, when, you know, there were certain things that I said to certain people that, you know, those people would come back and give me feedback. Is there a way of providing feedback in an, in a, in a polite way, in a nice way to sort of get, sort of change some of those behaviors But I know for me personally, you know, just first of all, being self-aware that you’re doing aren’t, is there a, is there a, is there a way to provide feedback that’s not confrontational that you’ve come up, you’ve, that, that you’ve, seen work
Jess Ramos: To be honest, I think looking back at those times, I wish I did provide feedback mm-hmm. , but I think in those moments I was so caught off guard by those comments and didn’t know how to handle them. So I am probably not the best person to answer that question cuz I myself haven’t done what I really needed to do. It’s taken a lot of personal growth and confidence on my part. I think in the future, if it happens to me, I’m at a place to where I would call it out, I’d be like, Hey, I don’t appreciate you, you know, talking to me or so-and-so that way I’d prefer you focus on my intellectual accomplishments instead.
Dave Mariani: Yeah. For me it was, a, a coworker said, you know, Dave, when you say that it real, it, you know, that really upsets me. And it was in a completely, you know, friendly way cuz we were friends. but that really sort of hit me cuz it was like a, you know, look, I don’t, that’s not my intention is to make you feel uncomfortable, but I think that’s, at least that, that really had an impact on me. I could say, to make me a better person. Mm-hmm. . but let’s, okay, let’s switch gears here. and come back back to your, your background. What again, I find so fascinating and let’s talk a little bit about the masters in analytics. so, tell me about that. Was that, was that, was that worth it Would you have done it again would you, would you encourage other people to take, take that route
Jess Ramos: So I think for me it was personally worth it and I would do it again. I’m really glad I got my masters. It was a really great experience for me, especially coming from a math background. I learned not only analytic skills, but how to incorporate those into a business and get the soft skills as well. That’s something I think Terry College of Business at UGA does really well. I wouldn’t recommend it to everybody though cuz I think master’s degrees can sometimes be a little gate people. I don’t want people to get the impression that they need a master’s or even a degree in a STEM field at all to go into analytics. Mm-hmm. , I think it comes down more to your personal drive and motivation, what skills you have and how you communicate those in interviews. But I’m glad I got a master’s. I’m someone who really values education. A lot of my goals growing up were always around education. Mm-hmm. , it was actually a goal of mine as a little girl to get a degree past a bachelor’s degree. Mm. I don’t know what little girl’s dream of that, but for me, a personal goal.
Dave Mariani: Where did that come from Jess that come from your parents I mean, you couldn’t just like cook that up on your own. Cause I mean, when I was a kid I wasn’t thinking about a master’s degree. I didn’t know what, I didn’t know what a b bachelor’s was or master’s was from, you know, from anything. So how, how did you do that
Jess Ramos: I honestly don’t know. I think I definitely did have like academic, I did feel that from my parents. Like, academics are really important. So I was, I was lucky to grow up in a household that promoted that. But again, it comes down to me wanting to do more, take the road less traveled. Mm-hmm. Like I was like, a lot of people get bachelor’s degrees but not as many get a master’s.
Dave Mariani: That’s what, that’s that’s what, that’s exactly what it was. Go . Go further. I get it. And I
Jess Ramos: Used to want a PhD even a few years ago. I was like, I want a PhD before I turn 30. And now after getting my master’s in, being in like, you know, the industry for a while, I have changed my goals. I no longer want a PhD . I just don’t think, for me personally, I don’t think it would be worth the time. And it’s not something you need to do if you don’t really wanna do it. So
Dave Mariani: Goals, goals, goals. That’s that’s always good. my goal was a little more like, was, was was less, was a little, a little more crafts. My goal was to be a millionaire by 30. So that, I don’t know, , that’s
Jess Ramos: Goal. Honestly. I think my goal, that’s my new goal right there.
Dave Mariani: , not, not so, not so it doesn’t sound very good. So I’m sorry I said that. We may have to edit that one out, but, but that’s the truth. . so you know, Jess, you’ve also worked in sort of a variety of companies in terms of you know, smaller startup companies. I think that was your first job versus, growing into larger companies and government cuz semi or quasi government, you know, when it, when it comes to Freddie Mac, and then Crunchbase. So what’s like, say in your view So how did you navigate through those different sized companies and talk, talk to me a little bit about what was the same and what was different in the, in your experience in those different sized companies.
Jess Ramos: Yeah, so the first startup I was at, it was a FinTech startup in the mortgage industry. It had about 40 employees. So it was very small. I knew everyone super well. I was able to really accelerate my career. I moved up from data analyst to data analytics manager, managing a small team of two people within about two and a half year or two years there. And then I was there for almost three years total. So there I was like in the very center of the company, I was working really closely with all the stakeholders. There was a very low barrier of entry for stakeholders to come and request things. The turnaround times were usually pretty quick. So it was kind of like high risk, high reward. It was a smaller company, but I was able to really have a huge impact on such a small company. Mm-hmm. and accelerate my career. So it set me up really nicely.
Dave Mariani: Mm-hmm. ,
Jess Ramos: When I was on the job hunt, I was applying for mostly other startups. Cause I liked the startup world, but I found myself at Freddie Mac because I thought it was like a challenge. It was something different. I was like, how do I know I don’t like a big corporate traditional company I haven’t done it before mm-hmm.
Dave Mariani: .
Jess Ramos: So I tried that out. I realized pretty quickly the culture was not what I was really expecting. I really missed the fast paced work. Working on the same thing every day for a month was just like really boring for me. Like, I needed more variety and the culture just was like a lot different than I was used to. Mm-hmm. And I just really missed having a bigger impact on the company and it overall was not a great fit for me. Mm-hmm. , there were just, there was just like red tape everywhere. I couldn’t really impact the company at all. I was actually working on a product that was launching three years in the future.
Dave Mariani: Wow.
Jess Ramos: Like three years in the future, like . Wow. Yeah. So it just overall wasn’t a good fit. And I’ve been pretty transparent on LinkedIn that I left that job in a little over four months because I knew, I think my team knew it wasn’t the best fit as well and I just didn’t wanna waste anyone’s time.
Dave Mariani: Mm-hmm. .
Jess Ramos: So then from there I found myself at Crunchbase, which is like a happy medium. Mm-hmm. 250 employees. So it’s like a more mature startup. It’s not like a brand new startup, but it still has that startup culture. And Crunchbase has been my favorite place I’ve worked at so far. It’s a smaller company so I can have a big impact. I’m working on experiments and literally seeing the impact on the company live mm-hmm. , but at the same time there’s enough infrastructure, there’s a big enough analytics team, there’s a lot of documentation. So it’s just been a really good place for me to learn a lot from others.
Dave Mariani: Yeah. Yeah. For me it’s always about impact, right So if, and if I wanna be able to make an impact and see that impact, and, and you, that can happen in small companies or large companies, but if you’re not set up to actually have an impact, you’re working on a widget in the corner in some closet, that, that’s pretty tough to be stay motivated regardless of how much they pay you.
Jess Ramos: Yeah. It gets
Dave Mariani: Great . Yeah. It can, it can, it can kill you. so, so that’s great. So, I, I mean that’s great advice for anybody out there about just, you know, how they navigate their career. and it sounds like now, and I, again, I noticed this just with, first of all, I love your LinkedIn profile, so I encourage everybody who’s listening to the podcast to go to, Jeff Ramos’s, Jess, Jess Ramos’, a LinkedIn profile. Cause I, I like up on your banner how you sort of put some js o n in there and you have a little equation for describing yourself. It’s like, that’s super cool. I, I wish I, I can’t steal it now cuz I just said it, so I wish I could steal that. but I noticed that, you know, there’s, you know, you have some data science stuff. I see r r in there, you know, obviously Python’s in there. you also got Power BI and Excel in there. So, talk to me a little bit about the blend between data science and business intelligence and how sort of your, your, your sort of, it looks like your, your sort of spanning both.
Jess Ramos: Yeah. So at the FinTech startup I was at, it was a data analyst job a little more on the BI side. Like, we were still doing a lot of data analytics work and SQL and developing those insights, but it was also heavy on the business side as well. So we were doing a lot of reporting for stakeholders, for clients. We automated the reporting. So we were sending out, I keep saying the word reports, but yeah, we were sending out reports to all these clients so they could understand how they were using our product and how to mm-hmm. increase their adoption and conversion. And we were also working with the product team a lot. So we were developing those product insights and, you know, trying to make adjustments on the product to increase conversion. So I was kind of in the middle ground of BI and data analytics in that role.
Jess Ramos: Mm-hmm. . And then in my role now at Crunchbase, I’m doing a lot of different stuff. I’m doing a lot of like reporting, creating insights, working on optimizing queries and mm-hmm. , creating different views and our database. And then the biggest thing I’ve really been working on for the past few months is a product experiment. Mm-hmm. . So we’re using AB testing to improve our product mm-hmm. and test evaluate the risk of launching it. Are we gonna, you know, make more money and improve certain metrics by launching this feature. So this role has been more on the data analytics and data science side. Mm-hmm. . So I’ve shifted over more towards data science for this role because now we’re using experimentation and statistical significance to drive decisions. So it is been the most technical role I’ve had so far, and it’s been really fun.
Dave Mariani: yeah, I can imagine. look, it’s ultimately, you know, a lot of BI is just reporting on what happened in, in the past, right. and data science is always sort of future focused and trying to predict the future, being able to combine that together is, the best of both worlds as far as I’m concerned. So, that’s, that’s very cool. So you’re, so you’re, you know, so you obviously as a data scientist and as an analyst right, you gotta know sql, it seems like, you write a lot about sql. So talk, talk to me about SQL and what you see the future for SQL is, and how it’s going today in analytics.
Jess Ramos: Yeah. So I obviously really love sql. And it’s funny, when I was in grad school, first taking a SQL course, I had no idea what SQL was for. Like, I was typing the right words, getting the right answers, but I was like, why do I need this Like, I don’t understand the purpose. And it wasn’t until I got in the real world where I saw these cool things I could do. I was like data wrangling, pulling together all these different data sets, reshaping the data, really just thinking about what do I need this data to look like for what I’m trying to do and how can I use people to get it there So I think for me, I just really enjoy putting together all the puzzle pieces and the satisfaction of finally getting what you want out of it. Mm-hmm. , this, what was the other part of the question
Jess Ramos: Oh, yeah. Where’s SQL going I think obviously AI is a hot topic right now, and I think it’s really cool that there’s all these AI tools that are helping write sql. Mm-hmm. , I think a lot of it can be somewhat dangerous if we have people, you know, writing queries with ai. They don’t know how to validate them, they don’t know the implications of using certain things. They’re just copy paste using it. But I think as an analyst, I think it’s really cool to have a starting place for your query mm-hmm. , and then you can kinda edit it and apply your situation to it.
Dave Mariani: Yeah. Just like anything, if you expect technology sort of to do your job for you without understanding what your job is, that’s pretty dangerous. I, I, I’m referring, I guess I’m, I guess you’re referring to, you know, chat G B T and the fact that, you know, it can do a lot for you including writing code, but not just, not just computer code, also sql, mm-hmm. , what’s your, you know, Jess, what’s your, as sort of a, as a, as an analyst, with the focus on data science, what, what’s your opinion on chat G B T and, and what the future holds for us with and that technology
Jess Ramos: Well, I think it’s a great tool, I think to sit here and say like, I’m not using chat G P T, I’m writing all my own queries. I’m never gonna ask for help. I mean, you have to always do your own research. I mean, I’m always googling on Stack Overflow, like, it’s okay to use your resources mm-hmm. as long as you also apply your expertise to what you find. So I think the dangerous part is just blindly copying and pasting and taking everything as fact mm-hmm. . And I think that’s why AI’s not gonna replace that as data analyst because you need that human there, that middle person who has the experience to apply to the query. And I think something that AI’s never gonna be able to do is work with stakeholders, define project requirements, apply business acumen and business context. Like AI doesn’t know how to incorporate the soft skills into data analytics. So I’m honestly not scared about losing my job to ai, but I think it’s a cool tool that can help us.
Dave Mariani: Yeah. You know, like, I completely agree with you on that. you know what generative AI works by, you know, basically ingesting what’s been all the information out there, which is everything that’s been done in the past. and when you think about innovation, you know, innovation is something new and it’s not, it doesn’t need to be something entirely new. It could be new ways of assembling things that already exist, which creates something new. but I’m just, I just, yeah. I have more faith in the human brain, that generative a AI can be a tool for us, rather than replace us. So I, I think I, I, I agree with what you’re with, with your point of view. what are you excited about, Jess, in terms of the future, future technologies, things that you would like to work on What do you see in, in the, in the area of analytics that gets you excited about the future
Jess Ramos: Yeah, honestly, I am really excited seeing all these AI tools, and I think I’m particularly excited to see how they’re gonna be incorporated into data workflows. I think it’s one thing to just like use chat G B T, like, you know, ad hoc, Hey, I have a question, let me go look this up. But it’s another thing to have these kind of tools integrated into our daily lives as a data analyst. So I’ve seen cool tools lately where it’s integrated into like your database environment, like into Snowflake, and it’ll automatically create documentation for you. It’ll automatically add codes, code comments, it’ll give you a starting query. So I just am excited to see how AI is gonna be integrated into our daily lives as data analysts.
Dave Mariani: Yeah. I was just at a Gartner conference, and so I went to the session that, Microsoft hosted about, office and how they’re, how they integrated G B T into office. And it’s pretty amazing. I mean, you know, you could create a whole ask it to create a whole presentation for you around a certain topic. and that’s pretty crazy stuff. It’s Power BI integration to create, you know, create visualizations for you, off the bat. There’s some really helpful things there that, could go a long way to making us more productive. For sure.
Jess Ramos: Yeah. It’s almost scary though too, because sometimes it’s hard to tell like if something was created by a human or not. Mm-hmm. , like I know on LinkedIn, this is something a lot of the curator talk about. We get some weird comments and dms sometimes, and we’re like, this sounds off. Like, does someone just ask chat G B T to like write a comment for them Like you can really tell if it’s not like a real human, it’s just missing that human touch. Oh man. Yeah. And I guess that’s what worries me a little bit too, if people are just like, you know, pumping out information and data, it’s always missing like that human element.
Dave Mariani: Well, let’s hope that we, it doesn’t get so good that we stop being able to tell the difference.
Jess Ramos: Yeah, no, that’s, that’s the scary thing.
Dave Mariani: Well, yeah, it’s a, it’s a brave new world out there. I mean, I think it’s, I, you know, I didn’t realize what all the, the hype was about until I went and used it myself. And, I li I write a lot of blogs and I just as an experiment just said, you know, write me this blog. It’s for, for 800, 800 words. And of course everybody out there, I did not use what it created, but it did a part pretty darn good job. even though it was very robotic, with no passion and no in no interesting sort of pros, but it got the data right. so, yeah, it’s, it’s a tool, but, it’s not a replacement for good old human intuition and creativity. But, so I think we agree on that. So j Jess, so we’re, we’re just about out of time here. any advice you’d like to give to, young people, and whether, you know, boys and girls who, you know, about a, about a career in, data and analytics, what would be your sort of sales pitch, to somebody who, might not be considering a role in data and analytics as a career choice
Jess Ramos: Yeah. I would say my sales pitch is that data analytics is a really fun career to have. If you like solving problems and doing something different every day. If you’re looking to do just something really repetitive and, you know, easily def or well defined, it might not be the best career for you. But if you like to be challenged and think through problems and really impact a business that way, it’s a really good career. I think there’s a lot of upward upward mobility in this career. I think there’s a lot of room to grow your salary really quickly and also grow into leadership titles at the company. So lots of good career growth. Also, I know return to office is like kind of a hot topic right now, unfortunately, but a lot of data roles are remote and you have that flexibility to be able to work remotely, go on a trip and work from somewhere new.
Jess Ramos: So I think that is a huge thing for me as well. I think there’s a lot of people out there on social media, LinkedIn, Instagram, TikTok, they sell data analytics like this fantasy. It’s gonna solve all your problems. You’re gonna make six figures in your first job. It’s really easy. All you have to do is learn a few things in a few weeks. I would say steer clear from all of those. It’s okay if it takes you six months to upskill and get a job or even a year or more. So don’t be discouraged if you feel like you’re not meeting some of these, you know, quick timelines from some of these influencers. It’s a tough path to achieve, but it’s well worth it. I
Dave Mariani: Could not agree more. What a great sales pitch. Jess Ramos, thank you so much for, joining us and, and, to our listeners out there, thanks for listening to us on, ad Skills Data-driven podcast. Everybody, have a, Jess, have a great day and everybody out there have a great day.
Jess Ramos: Thank you.