In this episode, Marc interviews Stan Siranovich. Stan is closer to 70 than 60. Stan has reinvented himself twice in the last 15 years, this time it was as a big data guy. Stan recently landed full-time employment for the first time in about 15 years. He is just two to three months into the new job, so anything could happen, but his story may be inspiring to all of you who thought you might never go back to work again. He has landed as a Senior Data Analyst, where he typically had to compete against 20-somethings to get the job. Stan is working hard at the new job with a small startup. It’s a new environment for him, but he is learning and adapting. Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks? Listen in to learn how to educate yourself online for the position you desire.
[3:44] Marc introduces Stan Siranovich, closer to 70 than to 60. Stan is a scientist who has been doing data science since long before “Al Gore invented the internet.” Stan studied data science in undergraduate and graduate work.
[4:13] In the first half of life Stan did polymer research and development and technical marketing for large chemical corporations. Most of his career was with Bayer Corporation, but he also worked for some years at Mobil Oil, and also at Cargill, and AkzoNobel.
[4:41] Stan started in analytical chemistry, moved into product development, then into polymer synthesis. He began at Mobil, was recruited by Cargill, and then was recruited by Bayer. Soon after arriving at Bayer, they had a massive structural change.
[5:27] Stan was given two options: research or technical marketing. He chose technical marketing, from his customer-facing days at Cargill, and he liked it. He also did applications development, and product development for a while. Then he hit the speaking circuit when the company entered the wood coatings market as a supplier.
[6:02] There was another downsize. The Pittsburgh campus went from about 2,200 employees to about 800. Stan went off on his own and bought a franchise. He liked running a business but missed the research and development. In 2000 he sold it, after about a year.
[6:56] After selling the franchise, Stan worked contract jobs, and was recruited by AkzoNobel. He moved to Louisville, Kentucky, where he was the technical marketing manager for Coatings/Resins in North America. It was a $60 million product line with 170 products in 20 categories. In 2001, profits lagged, and they sold the business.
[7:34] Stan worked some temp and contract jobs, then went to Sullivan University to become a Certified Microsoft Network Engineer. While in school he was hired in the IT Security department of Yum! Brands until 2008 when 600 were laid off in Louisville.
[8:45] Stan worked some more contract jobs until late 2012, then he formed Crucial Connections, LLC, and did consulting and contract work through the business. Stan says it was a tough business without having a multinational name behind him.
[9:44] Stan had to draw down on savings to survive. He decided to look into big data. He had been working with computers since running 'PV = nRT' equations as an undergraduate. At Bayer, he had done statistical experimental design using JMP statistical software from SAS.
[10:56] To get himself up-to-date, Stan did a lot of self-education. He already had a BS in Chemistry and an MBA with concentrations in Finance and Management Information Systems. Besides his Microsoft Engineer certification from Sullivan, he took a series of certification tests from Microsoft. and several certification tests from CompTIA.
[11:54] Stan took courses from Coursera, Lynda.com, Springboard, Sharp Sight Labs, and Udemy for his online education. Stan spent small amounts on the training. Some courses are $10.00, some are $100 to a few hundred dollars. He prefers shorter skills courses, as he already had studied theory. Stan works now in JMP, Tableau, and R.
[13:52] Stan started working with Marc over a year ago. Stan was struggling with recruiters. Marc told him to be more proactive. Stan did presentations anywhere that would have him, and a lot of networking. One of his presentations is on YouTube. These presentations gave Stan exposure to the data science community in a three-state area.
[15:10] Stan showed that he knew his stuff. It was the only way to get by recruiters. If the gatekeepers can’t check off enough boxes on their list, you don’t make the first cut.
[15:39] Stan was hired in July. A recruiter from V-Soft emailed him. Stan had worked with V-Soft for seven years, but nothing had come of it. From the email to the first day of work at the client was eight days.
[17:44] Marc wants everyone to understand this: When you are going through this kind of job search, you have no control over the timing.
[18:02] The last time Stan was a full-time employee was years earlier. He has been contracting since that time, until this job. It feels good to have a regular paycheck.
[19:09] Stan is one of Marc’s poster children. The big challenge was to keep Stan positive and moving forward. Stan got frustrated dealing with recruiters. It took a long time. If Stan could talk to himself two years ago, he would say, keep putting one foot in front of the other. Do what you need to do. Educate yourself. Get out. Meet people.
[21:36] Marc’s final thoughts: Are you inspired by Stan’s story? I hope it would inspire you to be resilient and stick with it. Stan does not give up.
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