Meet the Team: Laura Cissell-Wyberneit

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June 13, 2022
6 min read

"Bring your true self to the interview process. We value authenticity, and we hire whole people, not facades."

Tell us about you.

I was born and raised in Texas, but left as soon as I could. I’ve lived in Colorado ever since. I’m a spouse, parent, and caretaker for five cats. I’m both a writer and photographer, neither of these professionally. This fall I start a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program. I spend most summer and fall weekends hiking, backpacking, or camping, but I don’t do cold, so winter and spring involve a fireplace and books.

How did you get in to Data?

Getting started with data was the only accidental step in my career.

I’ve always been good with math and logic systems, and assumed I’d end up somewhere in a tech field. In 2006 I was hired at one of McDonald’s regional offices to help with database management. Within a year, my capability with Excel and SQL resulted in supporting the Marketing and Consumer Insights departments with analytics. I loved it. From that point, my career progression was one intentional step after another. I partnered with exceptional mentors who showed me how to bring value through data and how to thrive in a role that is inherently both powerful and powerless. I earned a Bachelors in Marketing Analytics. I built a resume based on projects that brought concrete value to every employer. I went back to college and got a Master of Science in Data Analytics. Now I’m here in my dream job for a dream company living my best life.

What does a Senior Manager of Data Analytics do anyway?

The fancy answer is that I lead the Data Team at a bootstrapped fully-remote tech start up. I am responsible for designing a scalable data strategy, future-proofing our tech stack including technology selection and implementation, fostering the growth and progress of the team, while maintaining the data ecosystem through analytics engineering and data modeling.

While that answer is not wrong, it is a bit misleading.

Managers at SCF both manage and build. Since the Data Team is a team of two, of which I am one, a lot of my days are spent as an individual contributor getting through the work of analytics. Since we do not have a dedicated Data Engineer (yet!), and our data are not fully marted or modeled, that work sits with me. I help migrate dashboards between business intelligence tools because we are currently changing tech. The other member of the data team is new to the company, so I answer a lot of questions. The needs of the business are in almost constant flux, so stakeholder engagement about changing needs and urgencies happens regularly. Every now and then the stars align, the heavens open up, and I get to tuck into a delightfully complicated analytical project for a while. But most of my days are spent in dbt, BigQuery, and Superset.

What's your favorite thing about your role here at SCF?

There’s not one favorite thing, so here’s a list of things I love.

- I’ve never had a boring day.
- The technology I get to play with is top-notch.
- The people here are kind, thoughtful, and engaged.
- I receive unwavering support for my career.
- Everyone approaches interactions from a position of mutual respect, curiosity, and openness.

We’re hiring a Data Engineer, how will you collaborate with this role?

The Data Team will be primary consumers of the systems the Data Engineer builds and maintains. We will collaborate often. The Date Engineer will rely on me to clearly communicate the needs and requirements for data architecture and algorithms. I will rely heavily on the Data Engineer’s ability to execute effective pipelines and architecture in alignment with what I’ve communicated. Data Analysts and Data Engineers require a symbiotic relationship to bring value to the business, and I am excited to partner with the new DE to build a beautiful ecosystem.

What advice would you give to a candidate interested in working at SCF?

- Be excellent at what you do. You are going to work with highly skilled, intelligent, passionate peers. The imposter syndrome will get very real, very fast.

- Bring your true self to the interview process. We value authenticity, and we hire whole people, not facades.

What travel experience moved you the most?

In February this year, we bought $276 roundtrip tickets from Denver to Maui. Neither my spouse nor I had been to Hawaii, so we booked a 7-day stay just for the two of us. We went snorkeling at Ahihi-Kinau. The reef teemed with brightly colored fish. We listened to the humpback whales singing (February in Maui there are thousands of humpback whales present). Most awe-inspiring, though, were the Hawaiian green sea turtles. Several times I drifted around a coral spire and found one of these elegant creatures slowly coasting through the water. I took hundreds of pictures of the turtles, each time I encountered one left me breathless joy. It is deeply humbling to be surrounded by life, and acutely aware of the impact my presence could have on this glorious habitat and these fantastic creatures.

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December 15, 2022
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