Career Profile: Pol Canela, Head of Analytics at the Public Engagement Department, Oxfam Intermon (Spanish HQ)

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Career profile

Pol studied Economics at Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona (UPF) and further developed his analytical skills with several specific online courses and on-the-job training. Pol is now Head of Analytics at the Public Engagement Department in Oxfam Intermon, at their site in Barcelona.

How did you get into your current line of work?

After graduation, I worked for several businesses in the private sector where I was in charge of various tasks related to accounting and data analysis, including progressively more often business intelligence and data science. I then joined Oxfam Intermon as a Senior Data Analyst in order to assess the effectiveness of the campaigns and actions undertaken in the Marketing Department. I was later promoted to my current position after an internal restructuring of the organization. 

What does an average day involve in your job?

I lead the group in charge of the analysis at the Department of Public Engagement (which includes actions dealing with communication, marketing, campaigns). We offer bespoke analyses to the various changing needs of the Department. Our role is to provide rigorous analyses, and to communicate the implications of the results in terms of strategic decisions: potential impact of different actions, profiles of different types of contributors, etc.

What sorts of data and data software skills do you need in your job?

In my Department, we use big data from our own organization (for instance, anonymized data on donors, on types of strategic actions), and tools such as cluster analysis and predictive algorithms. We try to maximize the use of open source software such as R for both the analyses and data visualization. We thus extensively use R, but we also use software such as Excel, Python, RapidShare, or Microsoft Power Bi, for instance.

How and when did you develop your data skills?

At university in my first degree in Economics, but also in internal, on-the-job, training and mostly through specific ad hoc online courses such as those available in Data Camp, Coursera, etc.

What skills do you need to use alongside your data skills in your job?

A good command of data communication skills (storytelling, impactful report writing…) and interpersonal skills (bargaining, empathy, coordination across different departments).

What advice would you give undergraduates aspiring to a data-related role in the International Development sector?

I would encourage them to take every available opportunity, formal or informal, to learn how to work with real, often hard to manage, data. Rigorous analyses and nice visualizations of the data help other colleagues in the organization understand the potential of various strategies suggested by the results in order to truly improve people’s lives.  

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