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Has anyone moved from one industry to another, e.g. from the Internet to Finance (that's what I did, but I eventually came back to the Internet). What are the challenges? Rewards?

In my case, I brought all the scoring concepts that I was working with in credit card fraud detection, into web traffic scoring. It has been a very rewarding experience, learning from the credit card industry and applying to web traffic, and the move from Finance to the Internet was vertical. My initial move from the Internet to the Finance industry was horizontal, in terms of career status.

(Interestingly, I also receive periodic interest from the pharmaceutical industry, although I lack industry experience. Has the pharmaceutical industry benefited from importing analytic professionals from other fields?)

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A woman I bumped into who works for Lockheed Marting and developed an algorithm (C++) that they approved and now use wants to exercise her undergrad accounting degree and apply her systmes / software knowledge in a role that is more to do with finance. Do you have advice for someone like this??

Sean Kavanaugh
Cherry Hill, NJ
I moved from Finance to Web Analytics in 2006. The biggest challenge was definitely in being my own boss. In Finance, there's always a CFO that dictates the structure of a report and how it is analyzed. In Web Analytics, you are the "CFO." It's up to you to tell the site owner what they need and how to analyze it. While that is definitely an improvement, it is still a bit of a culture shock to transfer from restricted to free thought. I also gave up a defined career path, but in return, I garnered a raise in the neighborhood of 75%-80%.

I am hoping that blending the two experiences will work out in the long run. We'll see...
I have good experience with changing industry. You learn a lot when applying your skills to different problems in different industries. I applied what I learned from Software industry to Health, then I used what I learned from both in Insurance, and further applied all in Finance. I guess for most of us data is data, it doesn't really make a huge difference what kind of data. The challenge is to define the underlying problem mathematically, then they all fall in one big category. Not trying to undermine domain knowledge, but that's something you learn quickly in the process. I never experienced any problem when changing the industry and it was always a smooth transition. I recommend it if you want to diversify.
I worked in medical devices for a few months and thinking about going into the pharmaceutical industry but there are no entry level positions that I see.
I've been thinking about this a great deal lately, as I have moved from the public to the private sector.

As for moving into the pharmaceutical industry, or another industry in the private sector, I can see a greater movement. Wired magazine 2 months back described how mathematical and other aptitudes are being absorbed into other sectors for gains, as the financial sector isn't on such a hiring binge, allowing other sectors to pick up people with such insight into quantitative fields.
I have worked in Academic research as a Biostatistician, Human resources as an Affirmative Action Statistician, aircraft manufacturing as an industrial statistician, Market Research as a statistical analyst and now as a manager of analytical specialists (SAS programmers, analysts and statisticians) in Hospital Administration.

I feel that the range of my experience has kept me fresh mentally and brought creative insight to the problems I have had to deal with, i.e., lots of Epidemiological components in Affirmative Action analysis.

Now, as a person who hires statisticians, I look for that same breadth of experience in the folks that I hire or at least people who are not intimidated by having to start at the bottom to learn a whole new field.


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