Canada Post: Data Scientist, Carol Wilson Lessons Learned

This blog is a continuation of our first blog which focused on her career progression and lessons learned in her journey to become a data scientist. It was not a linear path, and being open to new pathways and emergence and mentorship were all key to Carol’s success in becoming a data scientist.

Carol’s Career Milestones

Carol’s professional career began in market research with Narrative Research (formerly Corporate Research Associates) back in 1997, where she began as a data analyst and rose within the company to be Managing Director of New Brunswick thirteen years later. 

In 2010, Carol moved to the international stage and managed a team of data scientists and researchers located around the globe with IGT, the world’s leading slot machine manufacturer. These early milestones enabled her to be recruited to Canada Post to continue her leadership in data sciences, and also unleashing AI to help solve more complex data set challenges to help Canada Post further modernize.

How did studying experimental psychology enable a career in data science?

In interviewing Carol, she stressed the value that her Psychology Program enabled her to appreciate statistics, research methods and how to design solving complex use cases. Early in her career, she researched human memory and how it functions which helped her propel her career foreword in recognizing the diverse ways that people learn and communicate and how knowledge is transferred into memory. 

During her career, over thirteen years at a market research firm, she mastered working with small datasets using various computer applications, learned business writing and also ventured into qualitative research by becoming a certified focus group moderator. What was key in becoming a data scientist was she was able to learn both quantitative and qualitative research methods, and has found that there is always a blend in solving complex problems as seeing problems from different angle(s) further validates research and also enables increased human comprehension.

In another leadership role she led a global team of data scientists which gave her the experience to do research across multiple countries and appreciate different cultures, and languages and learn to be patient until the full research picture emerged.

Canada Post is changing rapidly with the new digital reality. While their Letter mail business has declined, parcel volumes are sky rocking from increased B2C activity and with Covid-19 challenges, the challenges have increased on B2C postal deliveries, which have increased by over 40%. These new realities she said: “are driving a major paradigm shift in Canada Post’s leadership thinking, as well as physical changes on the ground in our plants and our vehicles. This creates a perfect atmosphere to excel in advanced analytics so we understand our new world.”

Carol how important is the role of a mentor in advancing into leadership positions?

Based on Carol’s career experience, it is very important to find a mentor that you have a connection with. Someone you feel has respect for you and wants you to succeed to achieve your career and also balances personal goals. According to Carol, “This makes it much easier for you to take constructive advice from them.  Do not choose someone just because of their position, choose them because they are a safe place where you can fail in order to succeed. There are two types of mentors that I have had in my career. Neither type was identified as part of a structured mentorship program since I have no experience with those. The mentors I have had experience with are the ones who showed me how to succeed in business and those who helped me succeed in business. The ones who have shown me how to succeed, do so by example, not by explicit instruction. I would emulate how they acted and what their style was. If they had qualities I admired, I would try to adopt those qualities myself. The other type of mentor were the people in my past who helped me succeed. The ones who gave me the confidence to try new things and gave me the chance to show what I could do outside of my normal position. I recall the time I went to my boss, as the company’s statistician, and asked to take focus group moderation training. This must have seemed like a very odd request coming from a self-proclaimed “numbers girl” but he agreed without hesitation. These are the people you need in your life to help you expand your horizons.”

Top Three Career Lessons

  1. Patience – This one is a hard lesson for me since I am Type A, driven personality. I don’t like to waste time talking about things not related to work. Over the years (and from multiple personality tests), I have learned to be more patient with people who need to connect on a personal level to establish trust. Having patience with people who work differently than you is an important skill to have, particularly for those in people manager roles. I can’t compare people to me and how I would do things, I need to understand them and how they need to approach the work in order to be successful.
  2. Take Responsibility – Taking responsibility for your part of things that have gone wrong shows a maturity others will respect. Pointing fingers and laying blame on others shows immaturity. 
  3. Treat your job as the most important job –  Whatever job you are given, treat it like it is of the utmost importance to you, rather than dreaming of the next job you want to have. Have ambition and tell your manager about your hopes for the future, but back that up by being the best in your current job. Outgrow your current job so they have no choice but to advance you.

Learn More:

  • To listen to the full story of Carol Wilson’s journey to become a Data Scientist and How Canada Post is applying Data Science, see her on video on SalesChoice’s YouTube Channel here.
  • To listen to the first part of Carol Wilson’s journey to become a Data Scientist in our blog Channel, click here.
  • You can access additional knowledge on Artificial Intelligence and Data Sciences by going to SalesChoice’s AI You Tube Channel or visit our SalesChoice Predictive AI World Forum here. Here you will find white papers, research papers, podcasts, webinar history, etc. to advance your knowledge of AI.
  • You can also go to the and keep track of what’s happening in our AI ecosystem in North America and China, a Joint Venture by ITWC, CATA and SalesChoice Inc.
  • To follow SalesChoice on Twitter, go here.
  • To contact the author, Dr. Cindy Gordon, CEO SalesChoice, you can reach her on LinkedIn
  • To contact Carol Wilson, you can reach her on LinkedIn.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada
Dr. Cindy Gordon
Dr. Cindy Gordon
Dr. Cindy Gordon is the Founder and CEO of SalesChoice, an AI SaaS Advanced Sales Analytics Company specializing in Accelerating Growth and Ending Revenue Uncertainty. She is an expert in SaaS, Enterprise Technology, Customer Relationship Management, Predictive Analytics, AI, Data Sciences and Enterprise Advanced Analytics solutioning. She is currently a Forbes AI Board Advisor, an Adjunct AI Ethics/Strategy Professor at George Brown College, the National Spokesperson Board Seat for Women in Tech for CATA and a winner of both the Governor General Award and the EY-CATA Sara Kirke Award for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

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