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Exclusive - Data Scientist Carla Gentry Talks Analytics and Chicago Pizza

Carla Gentry has over 16 years of data analytics experience working with Fortune 100 and 500 companies in financial services, education and retail and is the Data Scientist at Analytical Solution where she asks and answers the question daily…What can your data tell you that you don’t already know?

A self-described Data Nerd, Carla has been crunching Big Data since before the term was popular and when companies were still unsure of its importance. She’s mastered the art and science of social media and if there is a list of top Big Data influencers, she’s on it…every time.

Carla recently spoke with icrunchdata News about her experience as a Data Scientist, what Big Data means to her and what she does when she’s not mining data. Okay Carla, let’s get started.

You graduated from The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and moved to Chicago in 1998 to start your career in analytics. Do you remember the first time you heard the term Big Data?

Actually day 1 of my career with RJKA, my boss said, “this isn’t college, we work with data sets that would crash a regular computer. This is BIG DATA.”

You are active on Twitter @data_nerd and have almost 20,000 followers. Define Big Data in 140 characters or less.

Big data is anything that goes above what an average analytical tool can handle. If you can’t open it on your laptop, it might be big data.

You started Analytical Solution four years ago this month. What has been the biggest shift in analytics in the last four years?

The realization that the market is glutted with wannabe Data Scientists and that I had to step up my game and show value rather than just talk about value. Talk is cheap but true talent is NOT!

What would you tell someone that is working for a big company as a Data Scientist but really wants to strike out on their own like you did?

I would say, have a years’ salary saved up. I may make it look easy but filling the pipeline and finding your own sales is a challenge – before you quit a job, network and ensure you have business on the books and not just hand shake promises.

What are the three analytics tools that you rely on the most?

SPSS, R and SAS

If you were forced to have a career completely unrelated to analytics and data science, what would you choose?

I was going to be a conductor of the Philharmonic orchestra when I was younger. Music was my life so I would go continue that dream, pick up my baton and make some beautiful music!

You’ve lived in Chattanooga, Chicago and now live in Louisville. Which city is your favorite?

I love Chattanooga for its beauty, Chicago for its diversity but Louisville has both, so this is my home and my favorite.

After nine years of intense market research and product testing while living in Chicago, who has the best pizza?

Giggle, that one will cause a fight in Chicago but since you asked “Lou Malnati's Pizzeria.” Old school!

What do you like most about Kentucky?

The horses, can’t wait till May “Running of the Roses and Churchill Downs”

When is the last time you played chess, played golf and gone fishing?

Oh wow, chess…. It’s been awhile, no one will play with me anymore, not sure why – maybe the “I can beat you in 4 moves, intimidates.”

Golf, now there is a sport, I play as much as I can (the clubs are in the back of my SUV) couldn’t wait for spring! (We need an indoor golf range for winter.)

Fishing, now here is how a data nerd really relaxes but unfortunately I only get to do this once or twice a year. :o(

That’s it. Thanks Carla for taking the time to answer a few questions about your career progression as a Data Scientist and who you are outside of the data.

Article published by Todd Nevins
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