I work at the intersection between people, business, and information in my job as an Analyst at OneMagnify, which specializes in marketing, technology, and analytics. I’m interested in how we can use information and data as leverage to influence people and various business decisions.

One of the things that made me really interested in Challenge Detroit, though hesitant as well, was that the projects were so different than my day-to-day job. As an analyst, I typically work individually to gather insights and provide reports. Challenge Detroit has challenged me to get out of my own head and search for answers in a new way by going out into the city, speaking with people, and interacting with the community around me in Detroit.

In reflecting on my time throughout this fellowship and my daily job, I have uncovered 3 themes that stick out to me – Answers, Data, and People.

Answers – I became an analyst because I like having answers. What scared me most going into Challenge Detroit was the unknown of what was to come in each challenge project. However, this fellowship has lead me to the realization that it is okay to not have answers right away. I’ve also learned a new process of how to come to ideas more effectively through the Design Thinking Process. Not having answers right away is almost better because it allows you to come with an open mind, harvest knowledge and experience from others through empathy, define the true problem, and then test and refine to ensure the solution best suits the needs of those involved. Value the unknown, because within the unknown you will find the answers.

Data – Challenge Detroit has also taught me that answers don’t always come from data itself, or at least the types of data can be different. I have come to learn that data can come in many shapes and sizes – for example, data is not just the number of people who clicked on a button in a marketing email. Data can also take the shape of the senior citizen who talks to us about their interest in gardening even though we were originally asking them about their technology use. While I was used to using quantitative data in my role as an analyst, Challenge Detroit was a valuable experience in using qualitative data. Though the data may be different, the ultimate goal is the same – to use and transform information into something with purpose.

People – There is a big difference between serving customers and users versus serving people. While both are important, something feels different about helping businesses that serve customers, versus working with non-profits that help people. It has been particularly meaningful for me to learn the stories and missions of non-profits and see them transform, flourish, and grow. While relationships can be found in data, true relationships are made with people.

For making me embrace the unknown, for transforming information into something with purpose, and for creating true relationships – THANK YOU, Challenge Detroit.