The Classification Guru and Fixer of Dirty Data – Susan Walsh – #WSW – Women Supporting Women

classification guru

The Classification Guru

Data just isn’t a thing in the procurement world; it’s the thing that drives all of our decisions, strategies, and so much more. So that’s why I was stoked to talk with Susan Walsh AKA The Classification Guru.

I saw her pop up on LinkedIn recently, and wanted to know more! Since I also have a soft spot for data, I knew it would be an exciting conversation. (Spoiler Alert – she did not disappoint)

Call it clicking, being on the same wavelength, like-minded, or whatever you want, the similarities we had were crazy. I don’t think I’ve ever met someone with the same perspective on career and goals.  That’s why I’ve dubbed her my career sister from another mister.

Conversations that end up like these, are why I LOVE networking!

That aside, Susan had some great insights into data, starting your businesses, and so much more to be successful. So here are some of my favorite pieces of our 30-minute conversation that somehow turned into an hour and a half.

Your Million Dollar Software is Almost Worthless When You Have Dirty Data

This was something I had never thought about, but it was the most profound when talking with Susan. Despite its simplicity, almost all organizations are making this major mistake.

She pointed out that if you’re going to spend a million or two on new software that will inevitably drive executive decision making, you might want to ensure the data is accurate. (Insert facepalm here for 90% of corporations).

We all know garbage in and garbage out when it comes to these data and systems, so investing in the upfront cost of having accurate data you would think is common sense. But not so much, according to the Classification Guru.

And let’s face it – procurement already has a hard enough time talking with finance and gaining credibility. So if you aren’t taking the time upfront to clean your data, you’re shooting yourself in the foot, evidently only to lose finance’s confidence.

You Can’t Rely on AI or Machine Learning

With all the advancements in technology, you’d think you’d be able to send off your data and get it returned correctly classified in a day or two. But as Susan and others in the industry are pointing out, it just isn’t there yet.  And it’s also how she’s carved out herself a little niche in the data industry/space.

What was interesting to me, is that when you send your data off by these big companies to be classified, it’s not really by computers or AI. Susan explained how most big companies are doing it the old fashioned way (manually).  Given the number of companies in India dedicated to this, the fact it still takes weeks (if not months), and you again see wrongly classified data – it just makes sense.

Which, actually explains a lot in my opinion.

Let the Haters Motivate You

The classification guru had a similar experience to what I have had during my career. Everyone told her that her business wouldn’t make it, she didn’t have any contacts and so it just wasn’t possible. So did she back down? Of course not!

It only motivated Susan, even more, to prove them wrong. And after having a thriving business, despite the Covid-19 crisis, I’d say she did an excellent job of it too.


Be Yourself – It Helps Your Business In the End

What I liked about Susan, was she had a mentality of – I’m going to say what’s on my mind whether you like it or not. Not to mention, she was going to be herself throughout the process.

For Susan, it helped her increase her reach and has increased the number of clients seeking HER out!

And that’s part of why she does so well for herself outside the corporate world. She doesn’t have to worry that she’s offended someone, and she can take those calculated risks.

She can be herself and not worry that sharing a photo or something else controversial on LinkedIn will get her in trouble. Like it could in the corporate world.


Simplify The Complex

Not everyone wants to dive into data and analytics. Or spend hours pouring over the intricacies of re-classifying dirty data. And most of us don’t want to take the time to learn the detail of the complex nature of the systems and processes.

By being able to simplify and convey complex data ideas into simple videos (see how she’s done it on Youtube), it’s helped the guru make her mark.

It’s not a simple task. But if you can do it, you’ll be assured that it will help you reach a broader range of audiences. (Not just the 10% that majored in math in college.)

Other Key Takeaways

Now, I’m not one for writing extensively long blogs, so I’m going to keep this short. (Especially since Susan said she appreciated the sentiment). But I did have a couple of other classification guru takeaways that I thought were worth the share.

1. Career coaches are invaluable resources for those who are self-employed.

2. Your work is a representation of yourself.

3. Be open to different experiences in your career (Speaking Events, Podcasts, Webinars)

4. Even if you fail at one business, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try another. Learn from your failures.

5.  Not all businesses need a business plan, clear directives, or succinct goals to be successful.

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The Classification Guru and Fixer of Dirty Data - Susan Walsh - #WSW - Women Supporting Women 1

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