June Dershewitz is running for WAA Board of Directors
Published by Eric T. Peterson on March 23, 2008.
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Long-time readers surely know that I hold June Dershewitz in high regard; not only do I consider her a friend, I respect June as one of the most talented web analytics practitioners and consultants I have ever met. More importantly, June is one of the most fair-minded and thoughtful people working in our industry today, which is why I’m so delighted that she has decided to run for Web Analytics Association board of directors.
To help spread the word about June’s candidacy she allowed me to interview her via email. My questions and her answers follow:
June, can you tell me what made you decide to run for the Web Analytics Association (WAA) Board of Directors?
The thought hadn’t even crossed my mind until last month, Eric, when you suggested that I put my name on the ballot. The more I considered it, and the more people I talked to about what I could possibly bring to the Board, the more I realized that it was a great idea. I’ve invested a lot of energy in developing the web analytics community in my own local area, and I know that I could bring the same energy up a level to help the web analytics community at large on behalf of the WAA.
In a nutshell, what are the top three reasons you believe yourself to be qualified for the board position?
- I’ve been a hands-on web analyst my entire professional career, I love this work, and I am one of the strongest advocates you’ll find for our trade.
- I take volunteer work seriously. The Board is made up of volunteers who’ve agreed to spend 15-20 hours per month on the cause. That’s a lot to ask, but I’m ready to make a serious commitment to the job.
- I don’t play favorites. I want to make sure that we all benefit from the WAA’s efforts, and to that end I will strive to move the organization in a direction that’s in the best interest for all of us.
Have you given any thought to the kinds of things you would like to see the WAA accomplish in during your term if you are elected?
By all means we need to expand our member base at a rate that keeps up with the growth of our field, and at the same time we need to make sure that existing members continue to find value in their memberships. I’m all in favor of finding new ways to provide tangible, useful benefits to members. I also believe we need to form tighter bonds with related associations whose missions overlap with ours, especially as the scope of web analytics becomes broader. In terms of topics that are near and dear to me, I would like to see the formalization of local chapters and the development of a mentoring program.
I know you’re really involved in the web analytics community (being a founder of Web Analytics Wednesday!) Can you describe some of the other work you’ve done for our community in the past?
Web Analytics Wednesday has been a huge focus of my community involvement over the past couple of years. It’s evolved to the point where I’m not only heading up a monthly event series here in San Francisco, I’m also helping other organizers get started with their own events throughout the Bay Area and beyond. My work with WAW has really helped build an established local presence for the web analytics community, and I’m pleased to see similar developments in other cities where WAW has taken hold.
Within the WAA proper, I’ve been involved in the Education Committee, where I helped develop the document that will become the Web Analytics Body of Knowledge, and more recently I’ve become a member of Marshall Sponder’s Social Media Committee. I’m also contributing articles aimed at people who are new to the field of web analytics; my first one came out last month.
You’re running against some pretty heavy hitters in the field, folks like Avinash Kaushik and Jim Sterne to name a few. As you’ve looked at the slate of candidates, who would you like to see elected in this cycle: Who would you like to work with in 2008 and 2009 and why?
I would be honored to work with any previous Board member, especially those – like Avinash – who’ve voluntarily put themselves up for re-election a year early just so we’d have a balance of open positions this year and next.
As far as new people go, it would be great to get to work with Alex Langshur and Vicky Brock. After reading through all 17 candidate statements, I really like what those two have to say: Alex, because he’s committed to achievable goals aimed at bringing value to members, and Vicky, because she sees (as I do) web analytics evolving into business analytics.
Recently Lars Johansson of Satama proposed the idea of term limits for WAA board members, something that I don’t think is in place currently. What do you think? Should WAA board members be limited to one or two terms, or should people be free to serve for as long as they’re able to be re-elected?
The WAA has finally been around long enough for us to consider that issue. I’m definitely in favor of having a 2-term cap on Board membership. Our field is growing so quickly – there are great new people getting started all the time. If they have the energy and the inclination to run for the Board, I want to make sure they have every opportunity to get a spot – even without the name recognition that long-time Board members necessarily have.
Four years from now I’d love to see the Board made up of an entirely new set of people, full of enthusiasm and fresh ideas. By then we’ll be established enough as an association that our mission will be clear to whoever happens to be sitting in the driver’s seat.
You’re a web analytics blogger (one of my favorites!) so here’s an easy one: who’s blogs do you like to read and why do you like them?
Blogs are such a great way to keep up with our field and our community; I make a point to subscribe to everything I come across. Lately I’ve enjoyed Florian Pihs’s blog (I’m outing myself, he doesn’t know I’m a fan) because he’s covering web analytics in China and it’s a unique perspective that I could never hope to get on my own. Oh, and I like to follow bloggers whose sense of humor shines through in their writing, like Alex Cohen and Ian Thomas and (the occasional) Bob Page.
Some have accused the WAA of being somewhat close-minded and having a “not invented here” attitude, something that has the potential to negatively impact the community as a whole. Can you tell me if you encounter this how you might approach the problem?
I believe this attitude tends to propagate when the WAA’s activities are perceived as being shrouded in mystery. As members it’s really tough to figure out why certain policy decisions have been made when you don’t know what’s swirling around behind the scenes. I think it would be a lot better for everybody if more of what the WAA did, decision-wise, happened out in the public. I think we can do a better job being open with all members about what’s going on. Better communication – more honest, thorough communication – would keep negative sentiment in check.
What is your favorite thing about web analytics?
It’s a good intellectual challenge. There’s something about the natural shape of the data that lends itself really well to interesting, solvable story problems.
What is your least favorite thing about web analytics?
The occasional mistaken belief that what we’re doing is spying.
Ours is an increasingly international community and I firmly believe that some of the most exciting opportunities for growth in the industry are in Europe and Asia. Can you describe your experience working with international members of our community?
Over the course of my career I’ve been fortunate enough to work with a pretty global group. For 2 years I was employed by a first-generation web analytics vendor whose main office was in Britain; I spent some time working there, which was a great learning experience. Later, as a member of the central web analytics group at Oracle, I collaborated with an international team of marketers, analysts and developers. Now, as a consultant, I often find myself on the phone with clients many time zones away. Outside of work I’ve also enjoyed meeting international members of our community at conferences and through my blog.
Like you, I believe that our industry has a lot of growth potential beyond North America, and I want to make sure that the WAA does all it can to support international members by encouraging regional/local community, providing non-English language resources, and acknowledging the differences in the way we do business.
Fill in the blanks (here June’s responses are in bold print)
- At Emetrics, after 10 PM, you’re going to find me in the middle of a great conversation.
- On a long flight, I spend most of my time photographing my snack to post on Flickr as airplanefood.
- The one thing most people don’t know about me is I have a herd of dairy goats named in my honor.
- Everything I know about web analytics I learned from all the smart people I’ve gotten to work with and for over the past decade.
Anything else you think my readers should know about you as they prepare to vote this week?
If, after reading this, you’ve got any questions about where I stand or what my values are, you can write to me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. I aim to represent every one of you, and I welcome your feedback, now and at any point in the future.
About Eric T. Peterson
Eric T. Peterson is the founder of Web Analytics Demystified, Inc. and the author of Web Analytics Demystified, Web Site Measurement Hacks, and The Big Book of Key Performance Indicators. Mr. Peterson frequently presents on web analytics, is often cited in articles about digital measurement, and has been blogging on the subject since 2004.
Want to speak with Eric? Contact Web Analytics Demystified