Management

“Seek Out Opportunities to Mentor” and Other Advice on Becoming a Manager, From Someone Who Did It

person with long brown hair and light blue shirt against a grey background
Hannah Gonzalez, a manager of data and analytics at Intuit.
| Courtesy of Intuit

Working in analytics was never part of Hannah Gonzalez’s career plan. In fact, she says, “I did not know what I wanted to do after school.” All Gonzalez knew was that she loved problem solving, which led her to study math in college. After two internships—one in IT, the other in finance—she quickly realized what she didn’t want to do. And then she attended a career fair, where she met with a company, learned about its analytics roles, and got hired.

A few years later, Gonzalez moved to San Diego to be with her now-husband, and landed a data analyst position at Intuit. Today, she’s a manager in data and analytics, overseeing a team that works on the company’s Mint app.

Here, Gonzalez shares how Intuit helps employees learn and grow, why virtual happy hours have helped cultivate a community of women on the analytics team, and the best career advice she’s ever received.

What attracted you to work at Intuit?

As I looked for companies to work for, Intuit was always at the top of the list. They had an analytics team similar to what I was familiar with from working at Vistaprint, and I was—and still am—a fangirl of their products. When I graduated college, my dad taught me how to do my taxes using TurboTax. I was blown away by how simple and easy the software was to use each year. And then during my interview, I was impressed by the quality of talent within the analytics organization at Intuit. I saw it as a great opportunity to grow my career and learn from some of the best.

What are you responsible for in your role?

I work on the Mint app, our personal finance product. My team helps the business define how we use data to develop insights that can create and transform the customer experience and accelerate business growth. The work that my team does can be very technical: We provide tracking requirements, build and automate code to make sense of raw data, and visualize the data using various tools such as Tableau and Adobe Analytics. We also work very closely with the business teams, ensuring we are making data-backed decisions and developing clear learning objectives.

What role did your own manager play in helping you achieve your current position as a manager?

I had a manager who helped me get opportunities to increase my leadership experience over several years. I’ve managed two contractors the past two years, one in San Diego and one in our Bangalore office. I’ve also been managing the day-to-day workload for up to three analysts leading up to officially becoming a manager in February. I’ve had the constant support of my manager these last few years as I expanded my scope to include the work of others. And I am especially grateful for the coaching she has given me on the personal development side, ensuring we are sharing valuable feedback and checking in on non-business specific goals.

Tell us about the Women in Analytics Group you started. What was the inspiration behind it?

It started with the women on my team (Consumer Group) and it has now grown to include the broader analytics team (Small Business Group). We’ve been doing virtual happy hours every four to six weeks since November. I started it because I felt like, given our work-from-home situation, I was not connecting with the women on my team as I normally would have. In the office, we would always have those wonderful hallway/kitchen/between-meeting conversations that are typically not about work. Virtual or not, I feel like these connections are important for us women to feel a sense of belonging on our teams and in the tech world. The mix between men and women on the analytics team is more balanced than others, but I think we still need to make an effort to build a community so that we can retain and promote great female talent. I kicked off the first meeting, but it’s really a collective effort. We’ve had different people plan each happy hour since.

What are some challenges you face working in analytics and how do you overcome them?

Many different things come our way in analytics, such as new experiences, data sources, and performance issues. These can all be challenging, but also exciting. I believe a strong foundation of good habits and methodologies is important. There are usually patterns and processes that can be repeated, giving us quick confidence with certain parts of our job. That way we can spend our time and energy on the new, unknown aspects, problem solving our way through them, and building confidence as we go.

Another constant challenge is prioritization because there is so much our team wants to do. I try and help my team say no, or think through how to simplify the work while still getting most of the value out of it. I feel confident doing this because the leaders above me, all the way up to our Senior Vice President, encourage us to think about prioritization and empower us to say no. Of course, a lot of planning goes into this, but I feel supported in making tradeoff decisions for my team when needed.

In what ways is working in analytics collaborative? What are the benefits of working with a team?

Analysts are problem solvers and storytellers. As we all know, there are many ways to approach a problem. I’ve always enjoyed the collaboration between analysts and business partners on the best way to approach a problem. This could be from a technical sense—for example, how do we manage the data analysis of millions of users a day? But this could also be about the best approach to answer a specific question, which sometimes we do through A/B testing, but can also be solved by other approaches. I enjoy brainstorming with other analysts and know that within the team at Intuit there are many people to learn from. My team specifically has started doing bi-weekly code reviews to share best practices and important tricks and tips to help on the technical front.

What advice do you have for someone who is interested in pursuing a management role?

If you are interested in management, make sure your manager knows this so they can help you grow into that role. Also seek out opportunities to mentor others. You don’t have to be an official manager to start learning some of the skills, such as giving feedback. And if you do become a manager, just know that you are not stuck! I am brand new to this role and will continue to evaluate if this feels like the right path for me, or if I want to go back to being an individual contributor.

What skills and traits have helped you succeed in your career?

My work ethic, self-confidence, and leadership skills have definitely helped me succeed in my career so far. I give a lot of credit to athletics and my upbringing for developing these skills. I swam competitively from the age of eight through four years of college on the varsity swim team.

The other skill I’d highlight is problem solving. This is what I grew up loving about math. I think college gave me such a great opportunity to learn “how to learn” and to really become a problem solver.

What’s the best career advice you’ve received?

It’s easy to think about a job from the lens of the work we are doing and how we are contributing to the performance of the company. But some of the best advice I got was to also think about what the job itself was giving to me. In most cases it’s been opportunities to learn, grow, and develop new skills. I make sure I think about this from time to time to ensure I am still getting something out of the work I am doing. If not, then it’s time to evaluate the role and/or company. I’ve had a number of lateral moves throughout my career (at both Vistaprint and Intuit), and this advice helped me consider other opportunities.