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AsKinQuestions to Ashley Varner, Analytics Manager

AsKinQuestions Background

Our name is intentional. “Kin” refers to family and “Carta” refers to maps. When together, we’re Kin + Carta — a group of connected makers, builders and creators, who come together everyday to help our clients build experiences and plot a clear path forward in today’s digital world. Carta is what we do, Kin is who we are.

AsKin Questions is a series that brings the day-to-day experiences of working at Kin + Carta to light, all through the eyes of our Kin. And today, it’s Ashley Varner, Analytics Manager, who we asked some questions to.

AsKinQuestions Background

Tell us a fun fact about yourself.

I actually have two rescue pit bulls! One of them since she was a puppy, and the other I adopted from a shelter in LA. Animal rights and rescue are a big passion for me. I volunteer at one of the shelters that's close by and I’m thinking of fostering dogs again. In the state of California pitbulls are the most common dog to be found at shelters so it’s important to me to work to change the stereotypes people have about them. It’s also crucial that we work to change legislation that bans pitfalls in housing, daycares, from certain renters insurances. They often end up in shelters due to housing restrictions. If anyone is ever looking for a new pet please contact me if you need help finding a specific breed and I will help you find that breed at a shelter or rescue instead of going to a breeder.

What’s your role at the moment?

My title is Analytics Manager, but what that means totally depends on the project I’m casted to. I’m really loving the opportunity to build Kin + Carta’s expertise in analytics, expanding on website and app analytics to fully integrate it into every project we do. What this means is that in the future, we’ll be measuring everything, the future state of the world will be so analytics and data driven. My role here is to educate people about why we need these analytics, how we can sell them to clients and how we can embrace an even bigger data-driven approach. Day-to-day I find myself doing website audits, putting together strategy plans and roadmaps for analytics and anything related to website analytics. I’ve worked with every kind of data though so I’m always happy to help in any aspect of data and analytics.

Tell us more about that — what exactly do you do for our clients?

We just started a new project with a client which involves migrating from Universal Analytics to Google Analytics. I’ve seen this across a lot of companies, actually. They have the ability to do these easy migrations through Google, but they're missing a lot of the custom event data in those tags and end up with very incomplete website tagging. We can come in and provide that guidance and support on getting it all set up and how to best utilize the data that’s being captured. This will continue be a huge area of business for us at Kin + Carta as there’s a true market need for our expertise. But what I really strive to provide is a stronger focus on analytics and a way to help clients own their data and feel empowered to make data driven decisions. I really take the highest level of needs from the clients and come up with ways to address those with analytics and data.

What's your favorite part of the job?

I love talking about analytics — that’s just the way my brain works, because I see everything as data points. I get to have conversations with all sorts of people from different industries and different positions about analytics. I've also been lucky to have really good leaders above me, like Brian Browning. He's just been phenomenal in terms of helping me with career growth and giving me opportunities to pitch to new clients.

How did you end up doing what you do?

I knew I was going to work with numbers, because I simply love spreadsheets. I also love doing analysis, so when I was interviewing for my first role I found myself looking into a lot of financial analyst jobs. Eventually I realized that that’s not what I really wanted. Instead, I stepped into a search engine optimization role at a skateboard company right out of college which gave me access to Google Analytics. I started poking around in there, and even though I didn’t really know what I was doing I learned a lot. It blew my mind that this, itself, could be something I could do as a job. I later moved to a small marketing company and got deeper and deeper into the analytics. Soon enough I wasn’t the person who created content, but I was the one who was measuring how the company’s content was performing. This became my full day to day, and I loved it. There was so much opportunity to learn and influence the business. It’s not the usual path to get into analytics – because I didn't come into this role with a computer science or math degree — but it’s a track that’s proven successful in my roles and for my passions.

Why did you join Kin + Carta?

When I first joined, I will be honest that I was a little hesitant. I hadn't worked in consulting before, but did have advertising experience behind me. What I’ve liked so far about working at Kin + Carta is that I get to determine which path I go on. Depending on the type of client, I can say, “Hey, this is the work that I want to do on this project or this is what I want to sell into this.” I have the opportunity to be more of a strategist, which is something that I've always wanted to do.

You’re a strong advocate of diversity. Tell us about that.

I've always wanted to mentor people, help them grow in their career and make business more of a diverse space. In a lot of the agencies I've worked for, it's been me and a lot of men. I'd love to be able to grow my team and have a larger female presence. To me it comes back to what motivates me on a day to day basis, it’s a strong desire to learn. I love learning about peoples lives and the way that has shaped their beliefs and experiences they’ve had in life. I think it’s important that we challenge situations where we are only seeing one kind of person in the room, there needs to be more active effort on everyones part to make the world more equitable and fair. It’s not just saying that we are trying, it’s really taking the actions to support that.

Do you have any advice for women who want to work in the tech industry?

I think most women are generally aware that you might end up having to work harder than a lot of your male counterparts. And, potentially get paid less. But, that all depends on what company you work for and who your bosses are. So I'd say, pick a boss that you know is going to help you excel, and grow in your career regardless. I also think women don't negotiate as much as men, and we don't ask for the salary we think we deserve. Know your worth, and refuse to accept less.

What’s your experience of hybrid working?

I love it and have been hoping for it my entire career. I have two dogs and it's nice for me to be able to be home with them — they're always sitting right next to me. I also find that I get way more done and I'm a lot happier spending less time in the car. I’m more productive when working hybrid.

I would say there’s some level of relationship building that's definitely harder when you’re remote. But you can still do it by setting up meetings with people to make sure you're getting facetime and building those relationships.

What inspires you?

I've always just been very self motivated. When I wake up I'm excited that I get to learn more. The thing that scares me the most in life is that when I'm not here any more I won't get to learn anything else and see what cool technology comes out in the future. Just knowing there's an unlimited amount of possibilities of things I can learn keeps me excited.

How do you contribute to our mission of building a world that works better for everyone?

I would say, as a queer and neurodivergent person, I bring a different perspective at times to certain situations. I go out of my way to make sure I'm getting a more open and inclusive view of the world, and I really try to use that in projects such as thinking about accessibility on websites. In the future, when I begin to hire for my analytics team, I’ll make sure I’m giving everyone the same opportunity to further their careers. That, in itself, is building a world that works better for everyone.

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