Many aspired People Analysts wonder about the daily work in this profession. Students often ask about the competencies, the challenges, the tasks, and tools. Job hopers in this role want to make sure that there are aligned with answers to such questions.
I was privileged to discuss these questions and many more with Avigdor Citron, People Ops Program Manager, Strategy & Analytics at Google, who generously shed some light on the mystery in one of the most desired roles within the HR sector these days.
First steps as a people analyst
LSH: Tell us about your background, professional journey, and your current role.
AC: I have a bachelor’s degree in behavioral science and an MA in organizational consulting. I started my professional journey in the behavioral science department in the Prime Minister’s Office, where I worked on various projects that required quantitative and qualitative analyses. I didn’t know it at the time, but I basically worked as a people analyst. A few years later, I started working as an HRIS analyst for NICE Ltd. During that time, I helped build their HR data infrastructure and helped lead the organization’s people analytics function. Currently, I am a People strategy analyst at Google headquarters in Mountain View, California, where I support high-priority initiatives for Google’s global staffings organization on various strategy analytics projects.
LSH: Recall your first days as a people analyst. What competencies and skills did you offer, and what did you learn on the job? What were your early challenges, and what resources and guidance helped you facing them?
AC: As I mentioned, I did not know I was a “People Analyst” at the time, and it was not clear what and how I should do my role. I had a passion for psychology research, which helped me get into the right mindset to ask the right questions and find the answers. Obviously, I needed to use Excel and SPSS, which are great tools for analysis.
The main challenges were collecting data, making sense of it, and understanding the organization’s intricacies. Luckily I had a good manager and colleagues. They were able to guide me through these challenges.
A day in the people analyst role
LSH: Let’s dive deeper into your role these days: What business questions are you involved in, and who initiates them? Describe the tools that you use and your outputs. How is a people analyst evaluated in your organization?
AC: One of the most important business questions I was involved with was how virtual interviewing (due to COVID-19) affected the candidates and the hiring process. As a company, Google wants to make sure that every candidate has a fair chance and experience. This project was initiated by the Staffing leaders a few months after the pandemic started.
I have access to all the relevant data tables that enabled me to query the information using SQL and create data sets to power dashboards and analyses. We use internal tools for querying and dashboard building and Google Sheets instead of Excel.
As to how I am evaluated – Each employee has their OKR’s and expected attributes based on their level of experience and role. One of the essential attributes an analyst is evaluated on in Google is influence – how their work influenced the business, which sometimes is measurable and, in some cases, more subjective.
LSH: How did your work and tasks change during Covid19 times? What change did you witness in business needs and metrics? How do you think this will influence the future of your role?
AC: Not a lot has changed since the pandemic started in my role. At first, there was a lot of reactive analysis due to the change in the recruiting climate, but now I feel that things are back to “new normal,” and we learned to adapt to the new reality. Thankfully, Google is a very flexible company and managed to transfer well to a virtual working environment and to recruit process in a very successful way, in my opinion.
A desired career path
LSH: In your opinion, what may be a desired career path for a people analyst? What future roles may benefit from one’s experience in people analytics? Would you like to share your aspirations for your future career path?
AC: One of the best ways a people analyst can influence is by getting to know the business and various HR knowledge roles about the company (what they do, strengths, weaknesses, and pain points). It will enhance their ability to refine their findings when analyzing data and to present recommendations to support business decisions in the best possible way. In addition, as this role is part of HR, I would also recommend that a people analysts take time getting to know what an HRBP, C&B, Recruiters, and OD do as part of their roles so they can be proactive, rather than only reactive. It will help the People analyst work better with these functions and better understand the HR practice as a whole and open up more opportunities to progress either within HR roles or instead transition to other business area analytical roles, based on their aspirations.
As to my own aspirations, I see myself continuing to grow in consultative strategy and analytical roles within the HR profession.
LSH: What would you recommend to HR practitioners who want to become more data-driven professionals, and in particular to the Israeli professional community?
AC: First of all, I would say to all HR practitioners that they should not be afraid of data, formulas, and numbers. If you get over that hurdle, you can see things a lot clearer. I would recommend getting to know the different metrics that guide their organization and how the data is collected and stored. Once you have that knowledge, it will be a lot easier to understand and work with your data.
The People analytics role is relatively “new” in Israel compared to the USA, and there is sometimes a misconception that this role is mainly for generating reports. In my mind, there is a lot of strategic work in this space, and if HR practitioners combine their strategic abilities with some knowledge of the HR data, they will be able (with some help) to use that data and leverage it when working with the business.
LSH: Thank you, Avigdor! It was a pleasure to talk with you. I look forward to following your work and finding the next opportunity to host you in the Israeli People Analytics professional community.