Interviewed by Anel Arapova
This month, we met Alba Casero Mier, Media Intelligence and Digital Media Manager at Orange Spain. As participant in WIL’s Talent Pool Programme, Alba discussed her passion for Mathematics, what Data & Analysis means for an enterprise, and the importance of risk-taking in decision-making.
Prior to launching your professional career, your studies were focused on Mathematics. What attracted you to this discipline? How were your further career choices affected by your strong mathematical background?
What attracted me to Mathematics was its ability to bring order to what appears to the human eye as chaos. It is like a puzzle in which the pieces fit together and allows us to understand the world around us. Even now, I am sure that if I went back in time, I would go back to studying Mathematics again
Of course, all my decisions (and my opportunities) have been influenced by this mathematical background. On the one hand, since Big Data and analysis are becoming more and more important for companies, many doors have been opened for me. On the other hand, I really like mathematics' application from a less technical, more business-related point of view. I love the global vision and understanding what the discipline can give you in any area of business. In a way, I became a hybrid profile between data and business, which has been guiding my career a lot.
In a way, I became a hybrid profile between
data and business, which has been
guiding my career a lot.
You have had a rich and varied career in data marketing and modeling, which started in Neometrics and has involved working as a Data Analyst and as a Senior Manager in external consultancy firms, as well as in-house. You also have an air traffic controller licence and are currently teaching at ISDI! What have been the most striking differences in your roles, not only in the nature of work itself, but also other factors like group dynamics and leadership techniques? What tips could you give to professionals looking for similar career variation?
The most difficult thing is to adapt to working with such different profiles and objectives. Even when the work is similar, you cannot approach all jobs in the same way. In my role, it is not only important to do a good business analysis but also to know how to explain it in a way that makes people understand it. Otherwise, it is not useful. You cannot explain a mathematical model in the same way when you work in a specialised technical team or when you work in a media agency with marketing people.
The world of air traffic control is very different from the rest. There is much more independent working, leaving you alone and very focused on what you do. While it also has an important teamwork aspect, it is a team that you hardly see. It is more about blind trust since you know that the team has to be there for everything to work.
My best advice would be to try to be empathetic. Empathy is key to being able to adapt to new contexts and teams. In my opinion, adaptation is the key to success. Understanding the position of others, as well as their needs and limitations, will make them understand you much better and generate very enriching synergies in any role.
Understanding the position of others,
as well as their needs and limitations, will make
them understand you much better and generate
very enriching synergies in any role.
You have been Media Intelligence and Digital Media Manager at Orange Spain since September 2019. Could you tell us about some of your biggest milestones during your time there? What has been the greatest lesson you have learned?
At Orange, I have learned to question data more, as well as to be critical and perhaps more cautious. It is easy to make great recommendations based on mathematical models when you are an external company (agency, consultancy, etc.), but everything changes when it is your money and when it is you who must make the final decision and take the risk. As an external company, you propose a recommendation and hope that there are people on the other side who are going to consider it and take everything into account. In a sense, it is much more relaxed.
Certainly, the most difficult thing in Orange has been finding the balance between being brave enough to make decisions and change things, while at the same time being prudent and aware of the risks. In a company as large as Orange, these decisions always affect many people. Being able to reach agreements in areas with such different objectives has also been a very interesting challenge. In terms of a lesson, I think the greatest one has been the fact that even if you go faster alone, you go further as a team.
Even if you go faster alone, you go further as a team.
Where do you see your career taking you within the next ten years?
This is a tricky question! I've been thinking a lot about it in recent weeks. The truth is that, until now, I have progressed without a very clear roadmap, and that has allowed me to be very flexible and surprise myself. When I started studying Mathematics, I never thought I would end up working in marketing and loving it. Since I don't usually make long-term plans, I cannot predict where I will be in 10 years. What I hope is that my work continues to be enjoyable and motivates me as much as it does now. It is also important that it continues to allow me to maintain a balance between my professional and personal life while still generating impact.
There is no doubt that the current pandemic has accelerated the speed at which we are “going digital”, with ever-increasing reliance on technology. What in your view is the role of data and analytics in developing an effective strategy in the post-pandemic economy?
In our case, at Orange, data and analytics have been key when it comes to understanding how the pandemic affects consumer habits like media consumption, digitisation, as well as any new needs. Moreover, it has allowed us to see how these habits have been changing at each stage of the pandemic. This has helped us to gain a better understanding of the business and to adapt as necessary. And as I said before, adapting is the key to success. Data and analytics allow us to adapt to changes in a faster and more reliable way.
As a participant in the 6th edition of WIL’s Women Talent Pool leadership programme, you are joined by 49 other women from a variety of different sectors and industries. What led you to join the program and what have you got out of it so far?
One of the things that caught my attention about the programme was having the opportunity to meet other women in leadership positions. In my environment, it is still not easy to find leading women in more technical areas, for example, in data analytics. Networking with them has been a very enriching experience. I believe that the programme, in addition to helping us develop very important skills from a practical point of view, also offers us a space to share our experiences and support each other.
Out of the events and workshops I have attended, I found them all to be very different. I found the workshop on networking to be particularly useful since networking is not necessarily my strongest point. Now that everything has been moved online, networking has become even more difficult, I found the tips very applicable.
I believe that the programme, in addition
to helping us develop very important skills from
a practical point of view, also offers us a space
to share our experiences and support each other.
We often end our interviews with a question from the Proust Questionnaire. This time, the question is: When and where were you happiest?
In general, I consider myself to be a very happy person, so it is difficult for me to choose just one moment. Perhaps this moment could be when my nephew, Martín, who is now three years old, was born and I saw him for the first time. He was so small and so cute! I have lived far from my family for a long time, and it was very emotional to be able to live this moment with my little sister (who is not so little anymore). I was living in Barcelona and when little Martín decided to come to the world, I took the first flight to get to the hospital on time.
Anyway, I would have an endless list of good moments. You have to make decisions that make you happy!
You have to make decisions that make you happy!
Video edited by Nadège Serrero