Career Path Webinars: Next-Steps and Promotions


ASA Committee on Career Development – Career Next-Steps and Promotions
Claire McKay Bowen and Donna LaLonde

CCD Series: Along Your Career Path in Statistics and Data Science
Career Next-Steps and Promotions

 (Video Recording)

“Be a good citizen.” Dr. Bo Li advised during the Career Next-Steps and Promotions webinar, which took place on June 11, 2021. Dr. Li, who is chair and professor in the Department of Statistics at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, joined fellow panelists, Dr. Adrian Coles, who is a senior research scientist at Eli Lilly Company and Dr. Elizabeth Mannshardt, who is Associate Director of the US Environmental Protection Agency’s Information Access and Analytic Services Division and an Adjunct Associate Professor in the Department of Statistics at North Carolina State University. Dr. Coles and Dr. Mannshardt reinforced Dr. Li’s advice during their presentations by providing examples from their career paths on the impact of service to the community throughout their career development.

The panelists followed different career paths and worked in different sectors, each providing unique and  diverse experiences. Some key take-aways include:

Bo Li:

  • Be open to collaboration. Even if a project is outside your area of expertise, take time to consider the opportunity.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask senior people for advice. The statistics and data science field is mostly friendly and that person you asked will often feel great helping others.
  • Learn from but don’t dwell on rejections and career frustrations. The saying, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” rings true in research. Learn from the experience, but don’t let it hinder your growth.
  • Be willing to work hard. You will often experience “pains for gains”.

Adrian Coles:

  • Listen to both your passions and your frustrations. Frustration is sometimes an emotional “flare” that alerts us to a problem that needs to be solved; it shines a light on an opportunity to contribute.
  • Define your values and principles up front. Use them to guide your career path.
  • Be adaptable, keep learning, and commit to holistic development. Part of the learning process also includes improving our emotional growth, communication skills, leadership abilities, and business acumen.
  • Invest in growing and managing relationships. Healthy well-nurtured relationships are doorways to new opportunities.

Elizabeth Mannshardt:

  • Be curious and develop new expertise. You may discover new passions and interests.
  • Advocate for yourself. Self-promotion is difficult, but you are your own best advocate!
  • Develop your communication skills. Teach a class, talk to the media, or present your research to others outside your field. Practice makes perfect and you learn new ways to communicate your ideas when considering diverse perspectives.
  • Follow your heart. In the end, you should follow your heart. Work towards something that makes you happy.

After the presentations, the panelists responded to questions from the audience. Advice from the Q&A included:

  • Look for opportunities to communicate both formal and informal - including opportunities provided by professional organizations.
  • Career advancement requires an alignment with the vision and mission of the organization.
  • Become comfortable describing how you are contributing to the success of the organization.
  • Understand your organization’s system and the logistics of what it takes to be promoted.
  • Keep your mentors and sponsors informed so they know what you want and are able to advocate for you.
  • Take time to write down your goals and how you are making progress.

The panelists all agreed that investing in growing your community is essential. As part of that community, the Committee on Career Development is committed to helping you, so please reach out to us!

First Series Offering: Early data science careers and the job search processBlog entry and Recording
CCD hosted a panel of industry, academic, and government representatives to talk about possible career paths in Statistics and Data Science, including tips and insights on the job search and application process. Panelists (bios here).

Panelists: Along Your Career Path in Statistics and Data Science Career Next-Steps and Promotions

Professionals from academia, industry, and government addressed topics such as how to best position yourself for advancement; how to broach the subject of promotion; goal structuring; branding and networking; how to leverage opportunities outside your organization; critical technical skill development and power skills; communication and leadership; mentorship and sponsorship; and career path changes
 Panelists: Career Next-Steps and Promotions. Friday, June 11 at 1pm Eastern.

Bo Li, Professor and Chair, Department of Statistics, University of Illinois Urbana-Champagne
Bo Li did two years post graduate scientist (post-doc) at the Institute for Mathematics Applied to Geosciences (IMAGe), at National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, CO before moving to Purdue in 2008.  She moved to University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2013, and now I am a Professor with Richard and Margaret Romano Professorial Scholar and Data Science Founder Professorial Scholar.  Bo also serves as Department Chair.

Bo Li
Adrian Coles, Senior Research Scientist, Eli Lilly

Dr. Adrian Coles, Senior Research Scientist at Eli Lilly and Company.  He is He is also the current chair of the American Statistical Association’s Committee on Minorities in Statistics, and the Co-Chair of the ASA's Anti-Racism Task Force.  Dr. Coles holds a BA in Math from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and a PhD in Statistics from NC State University, where he was the first African American male to earn a PhD in Statistics from the time-honored department. Prior to attending graduate school, Dr. Coles served nearly nine years in the United States Marine Corps and has received several military awards and decorations for outstanding service and leadership.

Adrian Coles
Elizabeth Mannshardt, Associate Director, Information Access and Analytic Services Division, US EPA
Elizabeth Mannshardt is the Associate Director of the US Environmental Protection Agency’s Information Access and Analytic Services Division and an Adjunct Associate Professor in the Department of Statistics at North Carolina State University. Elizabeth is a former President of the North Carolina Chapter of the ASA and actively serves on committees and Executive Boards within the ASA. Prior to joining EPA, Elizabeth held two National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowships in Environmental Statistics and was a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of Statistical Science at Duke University.