Plucked away from “The Burgh” to the cooler side of the state, Sayf Sharif joined us in February 2016 as the Director of Analytics and immediately picked up in the ever present Flyers vs. Penguins office rivalry. A comic book aficionado that has developed his own algorithm on what makes a good comic book movie, Sayf has quickly furthered not only our Analytics division, but our culture by bringing joy, hilarity, and utter brilliance to all phases of the team.
We caught up with the hulking new Director of Analytics to learn more about how he leveraged Anthropology and Archaeology to get into the world of Analytics and where he wants to see the division go. Continue reading to learn more about how Sayf’s audience driven approach to Analytics is exactly what Seer was looking for and how the movie Guardians of the Galaxy shapes his greatest career achievement.
- Name: Sayf Sharif
- Title: Director of Analytics
- Location: Philadelphia
- Education: University of Pittsburgh BA Anthropology, University of Wisconsin former PhD candidate for Archaeology
- Fun Fact: I owned an original Green Machine (look it up)
Who is Sayf Sharif?
Can you tell our readers who are you and a little bit about yourself?
I’ve always been focused on understanding humans, and their motivations. I’m the kid in class who asked where people went to the bathroom in medieval castles, and while the teacher thought I was being disruptive, I actually was curious about it. That lead me to eventually majoring in Anthropology and going to grad school for Archaeology focusing on human tool use and the origins of agriculture. Why and how people used tools and technologies was a natural path for me, but then the web happened. I had always also been a techie, (I had first started programming at age 8 on a TRS-80), so I left grad school to learn more about this new nascent world.
Where were you before you came to Seer?
Prior to Seer I was working at a company called LunaMetrics, one of the top Google Analytics Certified Partners, in Pittsburgh as their Analytics Lead.
When and what brought you to Seer?
I first started talking to people from Seer in May of 2015, but didn’t end up officially accepting an offer here until January 2016, and started in February 2016. Everything about the company and the culture here felt right to me from the first outreach email, to visiting the team and interviewing here. It’s a great place and I wanted to be a part of it.
What interested you most about Analytics?
When you dealt with ancient tools you had to do a variety of things to try and figure out how people used them. What did people put in those pots? How did someone use that tool? With digital analytics I get to study modern humans and how they use tools, and see the actual usage data, and understand how they use things, why they use things, and how we can help them to use those tools better.
What gets you most excited to come to work every day?
Really just the work itself. I love what I do and the job. Everyone here is great, the office is nice (at a standing desk overlooking the Philly skyline as I write this) and we have office dogs. Great work in a great environment.
What’s the biggest career achievement you’ve had and why?
So… Did you see the movie Guardians of the Galaxy? The main character Peter Quill kept trying to have people recognize him as his ‘outlaw name’ Starlord, but it just wasn’t happening. Then in the final battle they round a corner, and Korrath the Pursuer sees him and says “Starlord!” and Peter Quill looks excited and says “Finally!”
I knew I made it when I was at the Google Analytics Partner Summit out in Mountain View, and we were up at this posh winery for a party with the partners and Google Analytics team of engineers, and one of them came up to me and pointed at me and said “You’re Sayf Sharif. You made my life hell for 3 months.” Turns out I wrote some blog post that pointed out a problem, and he was the engineer assigned to fix it.
Now, I’m not saying that it was an achievement to make someone’s life uncomfortable, but the fact that what I was thinking and writing about were actually having an impact on the product I spent most of my time in was pretty darn cool.
What is the most important piece of advice you could give in regards to Analytics?
Measure what’s important, and never forget your users. Your data should provide answers to your questions, and you should always be prepared to segment those questions by different audiences in order to really have a chance to find actionable insights.
Expanding & Growing an Analytics Department
Break down your average week at Seer – what are you working on?
I do a ton of things, but I’d say that it breaks down into several areas: mentoring the team, improving our deliverables, and growing our business. I work regularly with team members to help them grow professionally, and do better work with and for their clients. I work with tons of people across departments to help identify areas where current clients and new clients need help, and what we can do for them.
What’s environment like between you and your team?
I often use sports analogies about our team here. We have a variety of players who all have specialties, but we’re a full ice / court / field team, where everyone plays defence and offense. Everyone has hustle and drive, and works together to help each other whenever we need to, in order to keep the puck / ball / quaffle moving.
What are a few of the biggest learning experiences you’ve had at Seer?
Time Management and Triage? There’s so much to do, that unless I focus, I get ripped apart limb from limb.
You’ve only been here a few months but you’ve already had a big impact on the Analytics department, what do you see as the biggest challenge you and your team will face?
Probably the biggest challenge will be to communicate the cool things we can do as we do them. We spend so much time doing some sort of amazing integration, we might forget to do a case study on it, or get a presentation developed to take on the tour circuit. Our client and work focus is going to be our challenge, because people need to actually SEE the cool things we are doing to help our clients
What are your goals for your division?
This year we’re looking to continue our great growth trajectory. We got our Google Analytics Certified Partner status, and we’re are aiming to get our Google Tag Manager Certified Partner status soon as well. Later this year we’re also going to debut a public version of our custom Google Analytics training we do for clients here in Philadelphia, as well as in San Diego.
What is your ultimate vision for Seer’s Analytics teams?
My ultimate goal is to make Seer just as known for our digital analytics as we are for our SEO. This means having cutting edge, or next level solutions for our clients, and getting the word out about how we do business.
Joining the Seer Team
What’s it like to work at Seer?
The great thing about Seer is the culture, and how it fosters respect and innovation. We don’t tolerate disrespect here. We are all members of this team, from the CEO to the interns, and we are all important. There aren’t many companies in the world where an intern can have an idea and walk right up to the CEO to mention it, and the CEO might get excited and pull the intern onto a project for just that idea. Respecting everyone and their ideas is just one way we innovate, but it makes it a really cool place to work.
What’s been one of the biggest surprises you’ve seen at Seer?
Honestly no big surprises, just maybe minor pleasant ones. I had high hopes about what Seer was when I came here, and they’ve been totally validated and then some. The internal feedback and support here are amazing, and everyone is focused on doing a great job and helping anyone who needs it to do the same. There’s lots of I’s on our team. “I can help you with that.” “Let me know what I can do.” etc.
Any fun vacation plans this year using Seer’s unlimited PTO?
First taking a few days to move into a new house, and then I’m going out to Nevada to vacation with my family, spending a week on the shore of Lake Tahoe relaxing.
Interested in speaking to Sayf to learn more about Analytics and how it could improve your marketing? Drop us a line here.