How did you get to where you are today? What is your story? What incidents and experiences shaped your career path?

Asked by Jeff Musk

Seth Moore

Senior Vice President of Analytics and oLabs, Overstock.com
Bachelor of Arts (B.A.), Brigham Young University
Provo, Utah Area
Summarized By: Kanika Meadh on Tue Sep 18 2018
I would say I have a little bit of unorthodox path to getting where I am today. And I think it's actually a really good lesson for students. I started out my career with the _Judiciary Committee. I was working on a _ litigation reform doing econometric modelling there. I had always envisioned myself in some point going to the Law School. I was getting ready to leave the Committee because I was engaged and needed to join my fiance in Utah for a year before moving on and going to Law School where the next phase in my career would be. And I landed in Overstock who happened to be wobbing the Committee at the time to try and_ for a few months until we were ready to move on to a new location. I got involved in the early days of something called 'web analytics', which was tracking and analyzing what goes on our website and finding ways to improve the business. And as I did so, I discovered I really loved that segment of the industry because we just had much better data than anybody else has and much more work with. So I continued chasing that and ended up finding a great career for myself in the Analytics and E-Commerce Strategy space. And I never would have envisioned that but I found the opportunities that were available. I think the key in all of that was and it's part of Overstock's hiring philosophy - 'don't think of yourself as having any specific rule or position in your career path! Don't think of yourself as an Analyst, don't think of yourself as a Supply Chain guy, don't think of yourself as Human Resources... think of yourself as a skillset!' In my case I was good at solving problems with data. That's what I was doing with the Judiciary Committee, with the _Litigation reform but that's also the same thing I was doing with web analytics and e-commerce. So think about what your skillset is! What your package of abilities you bring for an employer! Think about how do I maximize a career using that skillset, not a career or any position! That gives you the flexibility to follow and chase the opportunity without settling yourself into a fixed career vertical in a given company.

What were the responsibilities and decisions that you handled at work? What were your working hours like?

Asked by Jeff Musk

Seth Moore

Senior Vice President of Analytics and oLabs, Overstock.com
Bachelor of Arts (B.A.), Brigham Young University
Provo, Utah Area
for : Senior Vice President of Analytics and oLabs, Overstock.com
Summarized By: Kanika Meadh on Tue Sep 18 2018
Responsibilities: I manage a strategy group. Formally I also manage all of our Analytics resources. The responsibilities that revolve around that are really: anytime there's any problem in the business, we're a deal-driven company so we're looking in for analytics and data to solve the problem. And so I have to be prepared to jump in where ever the fires are hottest! To try and find the data-driven solutions and make sure we're radically resourced and prepared to handle the challenges that are emerging. The working hours accordingly are kind of volatile. There are some days when I can get away with a 6-hour workday, there are some days when I need a 12-hour workday. And I just have to be prepared for that volatility and prepared to respond when things are needed but also when I'm not needed, have the discipline to step away from work and go and spend time with family and do the other things that need to be done in life.  I have to be prepared, the work is very volatile. So I have to be prepared to jump in when there's a fire, work extended days, 10-12 hours but also have the discipline not to do that when there isn't a fire and take the time out for family and all the other things in life. And so in that regard it's somewhat volatile how that work plays out. I think that's true for most Executives.

What qualities did you look for when hiring? How did you interview candidates?

Asked by Jeff Musk

Seth Moore

Senior Vice President of Analytics and oLabs, Overstock.com
Bachelor of Arts (B.A.), Brigham Young University
Provo, Utah Area
for : Senior Vice President of Analytics and oLabs, Overstock.com
Summarized By: Kanika Meadh on Tue Sep 18 2018
In my position we have both sort of objective criteria for hiring candidates as well as more subjective criteria. On the objective side, a good analyst and somebody's who's gonna excel in the analytics field typically needs 3 attributes: one is mathematical proficiency and that can be tested objectively, another is your technical proficiency - your data _lives in databases and you need to be prepared to work in spreadsheets or in R or in Sequel or whatever the proper coding language or systems are for the kind of role you're in. We can test each of those things objectively. And finally, logical reasoning! There is an element - there are those who are great at math who if given a certain logic problem completely struggle! So we also need to make sure you have the logical reasoning to apply the math to business problems accurately and to translate business objectives into mathematical equations. So those 3 things we test for objectively when we're doing hiring. You don't need to be great at all of those things. Some roles require one more than another. In some cases if you have great logical reasoning and great math, we can teach you the technical skills or vice-versa. But we test for all 3 of those to find where you're strong. In terms of interviewing candidates, we're really interviewing to find out one cultural compatibility. You're assertive enough to push the data and make sure the business is acting on what you learn and understand, as well as can you take good direction and extract leads out of the business to turn around and solve through data.  And then finally from an interviewing standpoint we're also testing to make sure did you have the right social skills to be able to take the insights you find and convince people to follow them and adopt the practises that you uncover! 

How did you inspire and motivate your team-members? How did you foster creative thinking? How were ideas shared and implemented?

Asked by Jeff Musk

Seth Moore

Senior Vice President of Analytics and oLabs, Overstock.com
Bachelor of Arts (B.A.), Brigham Young University
Provo, Utah Area
for : Senior Vice President of Analytics and oLabs, Overstock.com
Summarized By: Kanika Meadh on Tue Sep 18 2018
When we find the right kinds of candidates, people who're driven by solving problems with data and really are motivated by seeing their work brought into practise... That's the biggest point for me in terms of inspiring and motivating my team is making sure they feel like (i) they're heard and listened to and appreciated but, (ii) that they have the real chance when they do great work and that work actually changing consumers' habits and experiences. Then when they can see their work actually make concrete changes in the business, that really drives the kind of people we're looking for. So I really work hard to make sure that our analysts understand that data drives the business and data is the centre of the business. And if you're doing good data driven problem-solving you're really gonna move the results of the company in a material way.  In terms of fostering creative thinking, we do something that I call 'pinning for goal time'. In the analytics phase you get a lot of requests from the business saying, 'I need a report that tells me if this issue I'm doing is successful' or 'I have this problem and I need a way to solve it!' Pinning for goal time is really more about starting in the data and finding the business improvements in the business hypothesis out of the data. So you can think of it almost as inductive versus deductive reasoning. And we want to make sure that the analysts have time to rather than taking orders have some period of time where they're able to proactively search the data and try and find business insight unrequested from the business. Because if the business knew what it was doing wrong, it would have already done something to solve it. And so it's finding problems and handling the data that the business can tackle together with the analysts. That really helps foster the creativity and make sure that the analysts are applied to more proactive role in driving the business. 

How did you set targets for your team-members? How did you measure their progress? How did you incentivize them to meet their targets?

Asked by Jeff Musk

Seth Moore

Senior Vice President of Analytics and oLabs, Overstock.com
Bachelor of Arts (B.A.), Brigham Young University
Provo, Utah Area
for : Senior Vice President of Analytics and oLabs, Overstock.com
Summarized By: Kanika Meadh on Tue Sep 18 2018
One of the ways that we have are our analyts and scientists is that they are embedded with active business units. And if they're doing their work well, the business unit itself improves. So for example if I'm the Analyst and better with the email marketing, I may get an objective where I may have to merge out where I was talking about, times of pinning for goal time say the open rate for emails in our 'abandoned cart' email, isn't as good as we had hoped. So if they discover that we'll then give them the objective to improve that target and that measure. So they need a higher percentage of people of receive the abandoned cart email to open it. And then they work with the business unit to actively test and experiment around the subject line, around the copy, around the timing that we sent those emails and then they're evaluated based on how well they make improvements there. And then we have a bonus incentive plan around those teams where they capture bonus around some percentage of the improvements they're able to make beyond their financial plans. And we always participate in that in terms of performance improvements. 

What major challenges did you face in your job? Can you discuss a few accomplishments, and challenges that you overcame and felt proud of?

Asked by Jeff Musk

Seth Moore

Senior Vice President of Analytics and oLabs, Overstock.com
Bachelor of Arts (B.A.), Brigham Young University
Provo, Utah Area
for : Senior Vice President of Analytics and oLabs, Overstock.com
Summarized By: Kanika Meadh on Tue Sep 18 2018
One of the challenges we face is that we really wanna make sure that as an analytics organization, both the analysts and the business feel ownership for what they're doing. If the business feels the analytics is dictating something to them, they're going to resent it. You're not gonna get good coorperation. If the analysts feel like the business is dictating strategy to them, they're not gonna do the best of the work. They're not gonna be creative, they're not gonna be innovative. And so it's a management challenge to make sure from both the business side and the analytics side, that people are really embodied in what they're doing and they feel ownership for their work. And then they feel that they own the result of the business and not just the process. I think lots of major business problems come out of the fact that people feel ownership around executing the process but not that the process has the right output.  A concrete example: We had years ago, a business unit where the business was giving the analysts a study stream of reporting work to report back on an issue they were doing. But they were just taking the feedback and using it as a checkpoint to say the process is still on track. And this deal of business unit, they were working on returns and the returns number remained the same for years and returns didn't go up and they didn't go down. So the analysts became sort of overtakers and no longer were an active part of the business strategy. We worked really hard with that team because as we gained scale and improved the size of the business, we would ideally like to see those costs going down not just going sideways! To start diving deep and have the analysts identify areas where the business had degenerated or under-performed, or where we were seeing improvement and where we thought those best practises could be spread. But then they gave those insights through to the individual managers of those segments of the business in order to execute on them and improve. And rather than the analysts being recognized... we went through and reported on those results of those business managers improving their programs but the analyst was able to do that and kept in the meeting calling out the results and the improvements. And by doing so they were able to have both the analyst and the business unit being given credit for their success and being recognized for their achievements. 

What strategies or approaches did you find to be effective in working with coworkers, customers, suppliers, investors, or other stakeholders?

Asked by Jeff Musk

Seth Moore

Senior Vice President of Analytics and oLabs, Overstock.com
Bachelor of Arts (B.A.), Brigham Young University
Provo, Utah Area
for : Senior Vice President of Analytics and oLabs, Overstock.com
Summarized By: Kanika Meadh on Tue Sep 18 2018
One is encouraging ownership. We have what we call an accountability culture here where everybody tries to own a number and objective measure, and your job is to improve it. And it's not always a bottom line measure. You're a customer service agent, you're not being held responsible for the profit of the customers you work with. Which you are held responsible for - how often are you able to complete their problem or solve their problem on their first call, or how long do you have to leave them on hold while you resolve thier issues or measures like that. The measure of the customer satisfaction of customers you're talking to. We want everybody to have one of those measures and what gets measured gets improved! And so wherever you find a problem, whether it's with a supplier or a coworker, your stakeholder in the initiative... if you start measuring and publically reporting your success on that measure, that measure gets improved. 

What was the hiring process like for your job? What were the roles of people who interviewed you? What questions were asked and how did you answer them?

Asked by Jeff Musk

Seth Moore

Senior Vice President of Analytics and oLabs, Overstock.com
Bachelor of Arts (B.A.), Brigham Young University
Provo, Utah Area
for : Senior Vice President of Analytics and oLabs, Overstock.com
Summarized By: Kanika Meadh on Tue Sep 18 2018
I first came to Overstock almost 12 years ago as an entry level Analyst. The process for me was a number of questions trying to figure out what my skillset looked like; what were my competencies as an individual. Because they liked me and liked the thought that I could be productive for them but they wanted to understand whats the best fit and how do I best integrate in the organization at the most value. So the interview really focused around easing that out, around understanding what my skillset was rather than what my fit was in the role. And then making sure that my work environment was structured to leverage that skillset and add a lot of value. Additionally we did have a lot of certain objective testing. Understanding logical reasoning, understanding technical proficiency to make sure I could complete the objectives that were going to be given to me.  The people who interviewed me at the time I was doing web analytics, there were both called the Product Manager, that's the person incharge of sort of the world map for building a piece of software and in this case the software was the shopping website, as well as our Marketing Personnel to understand how well I could evaluate the effectiveness of the marketing, it's fielding traffic on that website and how well that's being utilized. 

How did the program prepare you for your career? (This may include courses, advising, exposure, career resources, career events, class visits, networking and so on)

Asked by Jeff Musk

Seth Moore

Senior Vice President of Analytics and oLabs, Overstock.com
Bachelor of Arts (B.A.), Brigham Young University
Provo, Utah Area
for : Bachelor of Arts (B.A.), Brigham Young University
Summarized By: Kanika Meadh on Tue Sep 18 2018
I studied Political Science which one might look at and say is very unrelated to what I do. And it is but this gets beck to the point around building a skillset and not a job title. In political science, I knew I wanted to be involved in analytics and quantitative work. And I would actually encourage anyone with an interest in business. Build that skillset! If you want to be involved in business, build your quantitative reasoning, your logical reasoning, your logical problem solving, those are the skills that will make you successful in business. And the rest can be largely be picked up along the way. Make sure that the work that you do, if you're not in a specialized field, is the kind of work that builds those general utility skillsets that can be applied in the career you want to pursue. 

Do you have any parting advice for young professionals? Is there anything you would have done differently in your life?

Asked by Jeff Musk

Seth Moore

Senior Vice President of Analytics and oLabs, Overstock.com
Bachelor of Arts (B.A.), Brigham Young University
Provo, Utah Area
Summarized By: Kanika Meadh on Tue Sep 18 2018
I would have probably spend more time in quantitative work if I had at all to do it again. The professional world 15 years ago is totally obsolete now. Increasingly math and machines are taking over what was used to be done by human management and human decisioning. And that's only gonna accelerate from here. So the better grasp you have of those skills, the more prepared you are for the new economy. The technical proficiency, quantitative proficiency and good logical reasoning are the foundation of most fields today. I spent a good portion of my career in marketing. The old world of madmen marketing is gone! The Art Director has to have quantitative abilities now. And so as that world increasingly collapses, being prepared for the new economy instead of the economy of 10 years ago is probably the most critical thing you can do at this stage in your career!

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