MiR Community Highlight: Andy Murtha

By MiR Community Team in MiR Community Highlights

Mir Community Highlights offer a chance to meet MiR Community members and learn more about their professional journeys, experiences with R, and personal pursuits.

For this community highlight, please meet….

✨ Andy Murtha (He/Him/They)

What is your current role?

Manager, Decision Analytics (Test & Learn)

Tell us about yourself!

Lived in Georgia (USA) for most of my life, went to the University of Georgia and Georgia State University for my Bachelors (economics) and Masters (accounting) degrees. started my professional career in Banking and Financial Advisory services throughout most of my 20’s. Wanted a career change at 30 and went back to school for my Masters degree while working in a couple billing analyst jobs in that timeframe. After graduating from grad school, I landed a job with Deloitte in their advisory group. One of my many, many majors in my undergrad was programming, so they asked if I wanted to take a shot at analytics, and I said OK. Hence started my analytics career in my 30’s with Deloitte, SunTrust Bank (now Truist) within the audit analytics group, and currently at The Home Depot working within the Decision Analytics team.

At work, I am currently working on projects that involve various business partners wanting to test out ideas in a small subset of stores to see whether their idea works when compared to stores not making changes. We measure their performance relative to the baseline stores to provide insight on whether their idea is better than the status quo. For my personal projects, I am working on the following: RStudio Certified Instructor designation, some of the Shiny courses that business-science.io offers (shoutout to Matt Dancho and his team for their course content), creating R content for training purposes, and starting to work on a shiny project within Google Cloud Platform (cloud provider I am famiilar with). Future projects hopefully will include some use of the distill or blogdown packages to make a personal website to promote and share things i am working on, and topics that I care about in analytics, data science, data visualization, and R.

I love to talk about data visualization, storytelling, accessibility in data viz and programming, and finally promoting all things R! One of my more memorable small projects included using the US Social Security Administration’s baby names database to assist in naming both my first and second child. While we did not end up using any specific name in either choice, it helped to carve out a lot of names that we didn’t want, like trying to make sure our child’s name was not currently popular in the years prior to their birth.

What are the most important skills in your current position? How did you develop these skills?

Data Analysis: learned on the job, other than the business-science.io and DataCamp certifications I have, I have no formalized education in data analysis. While there is a growing trend to take analytics/data science graduates, I feel that one can still lean on self learning with a portfolio of projects to show your capability, while also sharing what you are passionate about.

Data Science: currently learning data science pipeline topics through training, also good to have general knowledge when partnering with those who already specialize in data science.

Communication: One of the most important skills!!! Making sure that you communicate, and also allowing time for your co-workers, business partners, and others to communicate with you! I was once told you have two ears and one mouth, listen twice as much as you speak, and that holds true in business and the community.

Project Management: Again, no formal training here, learned on the job, but very important, no matter how large or small the project is. Project management software is out there as well to assist where needed. However, just having the basic knowledge on project management from free online resources goes a long way.

Be curious and think skeptically: Really got good at this working for an analytics team within Internal Audit at SunTrust Bank. The more you ask questions, as well as having a healthy skepticism to question things when necessary goes a long way in both work and personal life.

What are some difficulties you’ve faced in your career? How did you overcome them?

Working in management while still having analyst responsibilities. Basically being the analyst and project manager at the same time with no direct reports. This caused pains when it came to project management and prioritization. Something I am still working on, but what has helped a lot is to:

  1. Focus on what your goals are, and what priority those goals are in. If you can tie your professional or personal work back to those goals, along with their priority, this can get you 80% of the way there. If that work does not tie to those goals then you can prioritize them in the following.

  2. Delegate/Delay/Don’t Do - Try to use any or all of these options when you have a personal or work situation where you have limited bandwidth but things still need to get done

  3. Be very transparent with expectations with whom you are working with. If their work isn’t high priority, let them know. If you have competing priorities, let them know. If there is a possibility that deadlines might need to be moved, let them know now! Again this goes a long way in your personal life as well.

Looking back on your career, what advice do you wish someone had given you that would have helped accelerate your career? (or generally, provided you with a better experience)

  1. It’s not a race, go at your own pace. It’s funny that I figured this out very early in my personal life, but have just figured this out in my work career. As I rebooted my career in my 30’s, there are people I know my age that are directors and senior directors. As such I feel like I have been trying to catch up ever since I got into this career, instead of going at my own pace.

  2. Think long and hard about what you want out of work and life, and then try to find the people, places, and jobs that fit within that. This is not to say chase after a dream job, but rather, life is too short to trying to fit into a work/personal lifestyle that does not fit your goals/values/ambitions.

What are some specific resources that helped you in your journey of learning and using R?

  • Books: R for Data Science
  • Videos: Tidy Tuesday on YouTube, Danielle Navarro on YouTube
  • Learning: DataCamp, Business-Science.io
  • Online: tidyverse.org, putrinprod.com
  • Other Resources: R-Ladies Philly
  • Groups ATLyTICS (non-profit analytics group n Atlanta, GA, USA)

Do you have any favorite R packages?

All things tidyverse, tiktok, rstudioapi, tcltk2, and api packages to open source data, there are probably more, but these are ones I use consistently.

How can the MiR Community best support you?

Continue to provide visibility to what others are doing in the MiR community and how we can help contribute!

Where can we find you on social media?

  • Twitter: @murtha_andy
  • GitHub: @amurtha80

Thanks for being apart of MiR and sharing your story with us! We really appreciate it.

Posted on:
June 2, 2022
6 minute read, 1202 words
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