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Not only is Harnham a major provider of data and analytics in the UK, and one of the UK's best known companies, we are now an established global recruitment company serving companies globally.

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When Pigs Fly or How Animal Organs Can Help Save Human Lives

Boston, Massachusetts is once again on the cutting edge of medical research and technology. From Electronic Health Records (EHR) to Machine Learning and predictive modeling of healthcare best practices to Computational Biology; the final frontier of genetic editing. We have come a long way in our quest to understand and improve our quality of life. In the face of cancer research, diabetes, and liver or heart failure, the world of Computational Biology opens the scientific doors to discovery and solution. This is a place for scientists to not only get to the heart of the matter, but to the core of the problem at the cellular level.  There is an old adage which states, “when pigs fly”, usually meaning some thing will never happen or is impossible. But what happens when the impossible becomes possible? The jury’s still out, but researchers are making great inroads in developing ways to save human lives using animal organs. Could Animal Organs Help Solve Donor Deficiency? There are over 100,000 patients in the U.S. waiting for a transplant operation and, for many, a this may be their only cure. Yet, our growing population and the sheer number of those waiting has created a donor deficiency of epic proportions.   Researchers have been working toward successfully transplanting organs from animals into humans. Not only has their study of stem cell technology grown over the years, but with the advent of bioinformatics, statistics, and Computational Biology, a new possibility has arisen. The chance to not only transplant organs from one species to another, but using another species to host the growing of transplantable human tissue. Getting the Framework Right Computational Biology is a broad discipline honed to a fine point. Using statistical modelling, it builds a wide variety of experimental Data and biological systems to understand algorithmics, Machine Learning, automation, and robotics. Its job is to ask and answer the question of how to efficiently gather, collate, annotate, search for information. But how can it do all this to determine appropriate biological measurements and observations? At the tipping point is the notion that to truly get a good picture of the problem, the frame must be in focus. And it is this, which is the most important task for Computational Biologists to solve before continuing their research. It’s a reminder to step back and look at the problem from another angle and to challenge assumptions turning “what if” on its head. Stretching, bending, and twisting toward a solution that might not otherwise have been thought without a framework in place in order to begin modelling the system. It is in this constant learning phase, Machine Learning applications with parameters set by the biologists, in which new information is processed, analyzed, and understood. This active learning model offers opportunities for applications to learn how to learn and will play a critical role in biomedical research now and in the future. And from this place, the second biggest problem to be solved enters the equation. Now, it’s time to refine the methods of how to solve the problem.   Next Steps As exciting as the possibilities are, like all things new, there are challenges. For example, not all animals will fit the bill for transplantation. The idea is to mimic as closely as possible the size and evolution of humans such as pig, sheep, or non-human primates.  But, at an even finer point of challenge are our own cell’s reactions and expressions and understanding why they act the way they do. Ultimately, it’s important to be sure information at the individual cell level is inferred with statistical references to verify findings. At the pixel level, not using a fine-tooth comb could mean your conclusions are wrong.  If you’re interested in Biostatistics, Bioinformatics, Computational Biology, Big Data & Analytics, we may have a role for you. We specialize in junior and senior roles. Check out our latest Computational Biology opportunities in our new Life Science Analytics specialism or our current vacancies for additional opportunities. Contact one of our recruitment consultants to learn more.  For our West Coast Team, call (415) 614 - 4999 or send an email to sanfraninfo@harnham.com.   For our Mid-West and East Coast Teams, call (212) 796 - 6070 or send an email to newyorkinfo@harnham.com. 

Finance, Risk & Pricing: The Actuarial Analyst

Just because pricing deals with numbers, it doesn’t mean it’s exclusive to the financial sector. In our last few posts, we focused heavily on the role of Pricing Analyst, what it is and how to get there. This type of analyst role is more often found in the marketing arm of many companies and might also be known as Behavior Analyst, Customer Analyst, or something similar. However, there is another type of analyst sometimes confused with Pricing Analyst which falls squarely within the Finance sector. These roles might boast titles such as Risk Analyst, Financial Analyst, or Actuary. Often, it isn’t the title that speaks to the particular strengths of one type of role over another; it is the responsibilities and skill sets documented within the job description. Like Pricing Analysts, these professionals deal with numbers and pricing. However, their focus is on models, such as those required for mergers and acquisitions or how to set health insurance premiums looking at risk.  Looking for a Low to No-Risk Gig? Actuaries are in high demand. As a profession, it is one of the most diverse and tends to be more open to women and under-represented minorities. Though the focus is often on insurance and pension programs, Actuaries can find work in a number of industries including consulting firms, hospitals, banks, investment firms, and government.  As advisors who manage risk portfolios while analyzing historic and current data, these professionals are business-minded people with a mathematical basis. Using mathematics, statistics, and financial theory, they analyze the financial consequences of risk. The Masonic-esque Levels of Becoming an Actuary For individuals who are numbers focused and are interested in using their data, technical, and mathematical skills coupled with business acumen; the role of Actuary might be the perfect fit. However, there are steps or levels which need to follow to enter the profession. These are exam-based and work-experience levels and your salary increase incrementally with each step. To begin, a graduate with a high GPA and one exam under their belt may find the role quite lucrative. Each exam leads to the next level and enters you into an Actuarial Society. Depending on where and what you want to practice will determine which society you’ll sit the exam: Society of Actuaries (SOA) – focus is life and health insurance, pensions, and employee benefits. Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS) – focus is automobile, fire, and liability insurance as well as worker’s compensation. American Society of Pension Actuaries (ASPA) – focus is those in the pension field, particularly in relation to federal and state governments.  Each organization has its own exams and competition is fierce. Qualities sought beyond a high GPA and actuarial exam include: Good communication skills High technical ability A wide background from mathematics and statistics to the liberal arts Actuaries and analysts with an eye toward the financial and insurance sectors use their statistical skills to research, network, and connect the dots between discerned variables. The research begins with statistical modeling. Connect the Dots with Statistical Modeling In statistical forecasting models, the information gathered helps analysts make statements about real outcomes which haven’t yet come to pass. The model can then help identify what might influence these variables. An Actuary, Financial Analyst, or Risk Analyst may use a:  Merger Model (M&A) – This model is most often used in investment banking and corporate development. Think mergers and acquisitions. After all, someone has to decide the value of each company, then the basis of that value once they’re merged. Complexity varies widely in this model. Budget Model – This model is used in financial planning and analysis and helps set the budget for the coming year and the years to come. Focused heavily on a company’s income, these budgets are designed on a monthly or quarterly basis. Forecasting Model – This model is used to build a forecast of the budget model. Think of it as a building block as companies structure their budget and strategies using one or a combination of these models listed. Sometimes, the forecasting and budget model are combined. Sometimes they’re kept separate. These are only three of the ten types of models used in financial planning and analysis for any number of firms and industries. But, it’s the people behind the numbers who help businesses navigate what is best for their client, customer, and bottom line.  An Actuary is just one title those interested in the mathematical and statistical applications for business might find interesting. And like many of those in the Data Science field and higher tech applications, this role is in high demand. Are you the one companies are looking for? If you’re interested in finance, modeling, statistics, Big Data & Analytics, we may have a role for you. We specialize in junior and senior roles. Check out our current vacancies or contact one of our recruitment consultants to learn more.  For our West Coast Team, call (415) 614-4999 or send an email to sanfraninfo@harnham.com.   For our Mid-West and East Coast Teams, call (212) 796-6070 or send an email to newyorkinfo@harnham.com.

The Science and Psychology Behind Pricing

Toys ‘R Us toppled. Sears was saved. Both of these businesses were once retail giants. What happened? Perhaps pricing had something to do with it. But, how does one determine price?  Remember when you hosted garage or yard sales with your family and you spitballed a price for your sister’s doll or the coffee machine that was suddenly old now that your family had the latest model? Well, it turns out there’s a little more to Pricing Analytics than writing a number on a label and hoping someone will agree to pay it. We spoke with our own Jenni Kavanaugh, a Managing Consultant who heads up Marketing & Insight function in New York, to find out the science behind pricing. What does it entail? Who makes a good Pricing Analyst? And how does not knowing your customer affect your bottom line when it comes to a Pricing Strategy? So, What Exactly is Pricing Analytics? Pricing Analytics doesn’t seem like something you would need. But, from a company’s perspective, when you price something, it has to be at the optimal price point to make enough return whilst ensuring that demand doesn’t go down. This is where Pricing Strategy comes in. Unfortunately, it can’t come out of thin air, it has to come from somewhere data-driven. It’s actually about more than price. Other factors in pricing include the type of product, where the demand is, and what people like about the product.  At What Table Does the Pricing Analyst Sit? The Pricing Analytics function usually sits in a marketing team, or with a marketing analytics team. The role is an extension of marketing because pricing is directly correlated to promotion and then to things like loyalty and coupons. It’s all derived around what’s going on with the price point. Marketing & Insights play a key role because they encompass pricing, products, loyalty, and transactions which all come together to tell us, ultimately, how customers engage with our brand. These elements tell us how customers engage with any brand. Where does Pricing Come From? Understanding purchase behaviors and your company’s target audience affects the demand for the product which also affects its price point. The question is how do we figure out what to give, how to give it, and at the most optimum price for the customer? How do we answer these questions and balance optimal pricing for our customer as well as for our bottom line? The easiest example to use is that of a retailer. How do they set the price? First, they need to answer the question, “Who are our customers?” To do this, they must conduct a bit of historic analysis. In order to dig into their customer histories, they would first need data. The data would need to be collected and analyzed before they’d need to bring in a Pricing Analyst. A company’s data team would first need to ask questions such as “What are our competitors doing?” or “What do you think is the average price for this?” Though a price point might start off at $5, it could change depending on the answers to these questions and what the data says. Once your customer base is established, and you’ve got people buying things, you need to then segment them – what we call ‘slice and dice’ – into different demographics to help you determine their purchasing behaviors. It’s all correlation using the customer audience database because what works in New York, won’t work in Chicago, and what works in Chicago, won’t work somewhere else. Ultimately, pricing is looking at what has happened and trying to make sense of why people do what they do, and based on that try to set your prices accordingly. What are Some Things to Look at When Segmenting My Customer Database? Here’s a quick checklist as you ‘slice and dice’ your own segmentations. Your goal is to understand what makes your customers buy what they buy. It’s a starting point. You can divide demographics by: Gender Age range Location What is being bought? How much of it are they buying? At what price point are they buying your products?  Historic customer data is geared toward the perspective of everyday items. But, what about luxury items or new items people have never bought before. What do you when there’s no historic data from which to base your price strategy? What are some trends you’re seeing? Pricing hasn’t been too big in the U.S. as a separate function within business. Traditionally, it’s been ensconced in other titles such as Customer Analyst, Loyalty Analyst, or Buying Behavior Analyst. However, since retail isn’t doing so well here, at the moment, Pricing Analytics and understanding customer behaviors has risen to the top of the chain of importance, which makes the role quite a valuable position to fill. Over the last couple of years, there have been very few Pricing Analyst roles, but it’s important to take note that demand is growing.  More often, businesses who have filled the Pricing Analyst role are more focused in qualitative companies such as Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) companies. Think Coca-Cola or Heineken. Now they’re in stores, they need to understand how to price their products to the supermarkets to make sure they retain those vendors. In these types of companies, you don’t necessarily see someone in the role of Statistical Analyst, but when it comes to historical data, consumer behaviors, and the growing demand for pricing strategies, the roles are beginning to shift. The idea of having your own pricing team is becoming more and more prevalent. Who Would Be Most Suited to the Role?  The Pricing Analyst sits within Customer Behavior. Often the role is best for those who have been involved in pricing before, or perhaps Product Analytics – these often go hand-in-hand. Product and Pricing or Loyalty and Promotion. They’re all linked together because they all involve pricing.  Technical skills can take you in multiple directions. But, if you sit in a Customer Analytics team and you study customer behaviors, then you could do something like Pricing. It’s the same core concepts, the same methodology that might operate slightly differently.  Or, if someone has worked on any behavioral or customer environment and have experience trying to change or improve behaviors, it’s a good place to start toward a Pricing role.  Ultimately, you have to have the understanding of how customers behave before you can apply it to pricing. If you’re coming straight out of university, you want to go into a team where you get the broadest capabilities in which you might have touched on a lot of things, but you’re not an expert in one. That’s the best way to enter into it.  Demand is growing for Pricing Analysts. If you think this might be right for you or if you’re interested in Big Data & Analytics, we may have a role for you.  We specialize in junior and senior roles. Check out our current vacancies or contact one of our expert consultants to learn more. 

 For our West Coast Team, call (415) 614 - 4999 or send an email to sanfraninfo@harnham.com.  

For our Mid-West and East Coast Teams, call (212) 796 - 6070 or send an email to newyorkinfo@harnham.com.

A Glimpse At The Role Of Pricing Analyst

Sales. Deals. Discounts. Price Points. Value. We are always shopping, always looking for the best price, the best deal. But, have you ever wondered who decides pricing? Though the 2018 holiday sales in the US saw a decline in spending, there still remains a whopping 84% of people shopping at any time, with the majority using their smartphones first. Navigating six categories of brands, services, and products can be overwhelming, and though most know exactly what they want to buy, they can still be swayed. We can still be swayed.  Research of a product often begins on a smartphone and savvy marketers know that is the place discover what it is shoppers are looking for and how best to help them find it.  The “I”s Have it in Shopping and Search The nature of shopping has morphed from the general to the specific. More and more shoppers are using natural language in their research and over 60% use “I” in their searches. The closer marketers can make their key words and phrases to natural language, the more likely shoppers’ research will bring them directly to their business. Consider how often, when we shop for travel discounts, we might say: “budget airfare” or “budget and pet friendly hotels”. No matter what you search for, or how you search for it, there still is that one person who isn’t a marketer. And it’s from their analysis of shopping habits, consumer insights, and market trends that the prices for products and services are set. The Path to Pricing Between 10 and 15 years ago, prices were set by salespeople or marketers as part of their overall responsibilities. But, today, due to a number of new pricing tools and technologies, it has become a separate job in its own right. A Deloitte survey offers deep insights into the path to pricing, but here are a few points to consider if you are considering becoming a Pricing Analyst. Educational backgrounds are as basic as business, marketing, and finance and as diverse as education, hospitality, and auto mechanics.  Analytical skills Market Research Ultimately, the goal is to make sure a product or service is set at its best price. This is done by researching industry standards, competitors’ prices and their strategies, as well as market trends among consumers by: Being proactive in communicating project objectives, metrics, barriers, status, and results to every element of the organization Identifying issues and creating solutions that allow for effective price measurements.Identifying and implementing improvement projects for pricing at a strategic level. Use data to create various graphs and charts to determine if the market can bear higher rates or if they need to be lowered. This in turn drives a company’s decision of whether or not to launch new products or services. Analysts must take into consideration not only what the market will bear, but the costs associated with bringing the product to market. They’ll look at each point along the way such as research and development, manufacturing, packaging, shipping, and finally the cost of marketing the product to consumers. How to Find, Keep, and Motivate Pricing Professionals For the right person with the right skill set, the role of a Pricing Analyst is the perfect stepping stone to other opportunities. For businesses, how to find and retain talent can be found outside of first thought of avenues such as finance.  Consider recruiting talent from a diversity of educational and professional backgrounds. Promote the idea pricing jobs can be a satisfying career, but can lead to other opportunities as well. Rotate people in and out of pricing fields to gain experience.  When asked about their biggest challenge, over 30% of businesses said “Data availability and reliability” were their biggest challenge. Are you ready for unique field within the Data & Analytics?  If you think Pricing Analyst might be right for you or If you’re interested in Big Data & Analytics, we may have a role for you. We specialize in Junior and Senior roles. Check out our current vacancies or contact one of our recruitment consultants to learn more.  For our West Coast Team, call (415) 614 - 4999 or send an email to sanfraninfo@harnham.com.   For our Mid-West and East Coast Teams, call (212) 796 - 6070 or send an email to newyorkinfo@harnham.com.

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