Raymond Perkins | People Analytics Researcher
New York, New York, U.S.
Department: Workforce Strategy and Analytics
Education: B.A. Mathematics and Economics, Morehouse College, M.A. Operations Research and Financial Engineering, Princeton University, Ph.D. Operations Research and Financial Engineering, Princeton University
Career stage: Early
What do you do?
As a people analytics researcher, I develop quantitative models and data-driven strategies for managing and expanding Meta’s workforce. I am a member of the Model Optimization and Strategy team where I spend my time discussing strategy with cross function partners, developing mathematical models, and performing statistical analysis. The nature of my work is constantly evolving and changing as the company identifies new opportunities and faces new challenges such as changing global markets, new government regulations, or changes to competitors’ corporate strategies. Depending on the circumstances, my work may focus on location and facility placement strategy, headcount planning and development, and talent market analysis and selection.
What types of skills do you use?
A people analytics researcher should develop strong business context, quantitative modeling, and communication skills. The job requires one to identify and understand impactful business problems, develop defensible and actionable solutions, effectively communicate insights, and successfully influence decision makers. Many of the types of problems analysts or researchers face use common methodology from operations research such as optimization, statistical modeling, and predictive analytics. Though having a strong technical background is important for the role, strong communications skills are equally as important.
How are applied mathematics and/or computational science important to what you do?
Applied mathematics is critical for the role. You’re literally applying mathematics to solve real-world problems and obtain applicable solutions.
What are the pros and/or cons of your profession/job?
The biggest benefit of the job is the amount of exposure to a diverse set of problems. Since most large companies have sizable workforces and constantly face changing market conditions, the skillset is easily transferable across many industries.
What career path did you take to your current position?
I never planned or even considered a career in people analytics. I studied mathematics and economics in college, where I was introduced to mathematical research. It was through a summer research experience for undergrads (REU) that I developed an interest in quantitative finance. I originally went to graduate school with the intention of going into finance; my graduate program focused on both operations research and financial engineering. After graduate school I worked as a quantitative investment analyst for an asset management firm and focused on portfolio optimization. When a recruiter contacted me about people analytics, I was skeptical, especially since I knew very little about the field. But through discussion and research I realized the work was very similar to what I was doing. The main difference was, instead of modeling and managing financial assets, my work would focus on a different type of asset—people.
Was your career path well planned or a result of taking opportunities as they arose?
I’m a strong believer in playing to your strengths and leveraging opportunities as they present themselves. There was nothing planned about my current role—it was a tactical decision based on an exciting opportunity.
What advice would you give to someone pursuing a similar degree or profession?
I was told early to speak to every recruiter that contacts me, even if I am not in the market or interested. It is a great way to discover new interests, develop useful relationships, and identify career opportunities. With a strong background in mathematics and programming, there are a tremendous number of opportunities available to you; to grasp them you need to make sure you are aware of them.
Many of the large tech firms with huge workforces are pouring meaningful investment into people analytics since talent is a driving force behind their success. As someone with a Ph.D. and a quantitative background, starting total compensation is $200K+.
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