Empowering managers to become internal data experts, with Laurel Curran

In this episode our guest is Laurel Curran, a Consultant at San Francisco based Exponent Partners. Laurel gives us an inside look at how she equips non-profits to improve fundraising and program delivery using a customized overlay on the Salesforce platform. Her first task is to enable non-technical front-line managers to become internal experts for their teams. Their long term success depends on whether they can meet stringent non-profit reporting requirements on a volunteer-driven budget, then make incremental improvements when more resources become available.

We found Laurel both articulate and inspiring, and her message of empowering managers to become experts in their own data realms will resonate with organizations of all sizes and budgets. Listen for yourself!

Quotes from Laurel:

On data literacy: “The industry has come a long way with democratizing the tools, and the next step is democratizing the learnings around more customized data analysis and data science.”

On the ramp-up to greater insights: “We usually take care of reporting requirements first, and then have this conversation about the curiosities of their work, how we try to answer some of those bigger questions.”

On empowering managers: “With my customers at Exponent, typically they are ready to make that investment [to upgrade their data platform], and yet you still see a range of adoption. So what goes into that adoption, what takes a client from being a participant in the design process to being the internal expert? And that’s the nut that we’re all trying to crack, with various levels of success. But by and large I’ve been absolutely amazed at my customers’ ability to take initiative and become experts.”

“One of the most surprising aspects of my job has been the chance to work with a lot of mid-career women who really don’t have a technical background but have a lot of initiative and enthusiasm, and directing and guiding that enthusiasm to expertise and empowerment has been a really rewarding component of this position because I’ve been able to see them come away this new found sense of expertise.”


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