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Published December 5th 2014

Inside Brandwatch: From Zoologist to Head of Professional Services

As part of our ongoing inside brandwatch series, we’re having a friendly chat with one of our finest data geeks. Meet Nate Walton.

For many businesses, social listening is a relatively young industry that’s grown exponentially over the past few years. It’s not all just sentiment analysis, query writing and reporting, it’s a huge market where brands take advantage of real-time intelligence, monitoring and engaged conversations with their customers and industry peers.

Investing people and financial resources into social media intelligence has never been more important. Hiring talent who understands a company’s social data and technical challenges, and who can take your brand from 1 happy client to 1 million is a major factor in determining your business’s success or failure.

We tracked down one of our finest data geeks at Brandwatch who does exactly that. Meet Nate Walton. Head of Professional Services NY, leading clients every day into new possibilities for data analysis. So what brought him to Brandwatch?

We asked him.


Favorite food: Tater tots

Dislikes: Anything with legs in the sea or that looks like a gigantic bug

Would like to have met: Mitch Hedberg

Would like to have invented: glue

Desert island castaway luxury: yacht

Fairy godmother wish: infinite wishes

Favorite thing you do day to day: lurk on stack


Balancing studies and martial arts

 

When I was little, I wanted to be a zoologist. I love animals and thought it would be fun to hang out in a zoo for a living. The idea of becoming doctor treating and helping people was too scary for me, but taking care of animals seemed like lots of fun. I had pet rats and dogs, but that wasn’t enough to open my own zoo.

In high school, I had this brilliant economics teacher who knew how to spark my interest into supply and demand. In my senior year at Oberlin College, I enjoyed learning all about modeling which got me into programming later on. 

Aside from reading a good book, I also enjoyed hobbies such as Brazilian jiu-jitsu and cooking – especially tater tots, that’s easy. I obtained a black belt in mixed martial arts when I was 19, perhaps there’s a survivalist in me.

black-karate-belt

Graduated! Now what?

 

With my degree in economics, I had no idea what I wanted to do next. I found myself taking on a few side-gigs in biology labs studying plants. I followed the love of my life to Massachusetts where I joined a huge economics department at Williams College to work on several modeling projects.

One day, my boss asked me to visualize all geographical results of our research on the web using the Google Maps API. I had no background in coding or Javascript programming whatsoever, so I went online, found the first example, copy pasted it in a text editor, and I had enough to start with. I failed most of the time, but I had lots of fun while learning it. 

Google-Maps-API-copy

“Love data, but I really need to take a design class or two.”

After I finished my projects, I moved back to NY with my girlfriend. I had no job, no place to live, so I moved in with my mother-in-law for a few months, to whom I’m permanently in debt. I took on another side-gig; creating statistical models for local housing markets. Swamped with work, I kept looking for a better job.

I found an ad for an analyst position at Web Liquid on Craigslist, and got a positive response. The job was very different from my previous ones, but the idea that I would analyze consumer behavior intrigued me. This job would give me a source of data that would be hard to access elsewhere.

“Getting access to really good data is the hardest part, no matter which data it is. To me, advertising data sounded like a cool way to explore the real reasons why people buy things.”

The job turned out to be a lot of paid media optimization where I learned ‘everything’ there’s to know about Excel and Brandwatch. I used to sell social media analytics reports to our clients using Brandwatch, a couple of interfaces ago. I remember sending Rob Stanley and Caroline Goodwin endlessly long rambling mails about the data. The datasets were so cool, had so much free text, a lot of untapped stuff.

The platform had so much potential, and the people took the time to respond to all my ridiculous questions.

A year later, VP North America, Sebastian Hempstead, dropped me an email saying Brandwatch was looking to open an office in New York, and “if I happened to know an analyst that would be interested to join?”


I said YES

 

At the time we opened the New York office, I helped with app configuration, reporting, client setup, and client pitches. Our official office space was quite small – only room for two desks (for Seb & Adam B, naturally), but it didn’t matter. We moved to several offices in the city. Seb joked that we were doing a “working tour of New York.”

Screen Shot 2014-12-04 at 10.48.12 AM What I love about Brandwatch? The people! We’re honest and open with each other and we’re generous with our time. The different teams at Brandwatch work really well together, even though we have lots of different personalities. We all think differently but we all want the same thing.

“I’m kinda like a gigantic Brandwatch fanboy, it’s awesome.”

Brandwatch is growing so quickly. I’m glad to be a part of this new layer of people who look after other people. I’ve been managing a team for less than a year. Finding great people, making sure they enjoy their work and help them grow is now one of the most important parts of my job.

My future? One day, I would like to be rich, seriously :) Wealth takes a frustratingly persistent constraint right off the table. It can’t buy happiness, but it certainly improves the odds. You can travel anywhere in the world, build something, do whatever it is you want to do. It allows you to fail.

Luckily, Brandwatch is great at allowing you to do exactly these things without the tricky prerequisite of having an insanely big bank account.

Now you know™



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Crimson Hexagon has merged with Brandwatch. You’re in the right place!

From May 8th, all Crimson Hexagon products are now on the Brandwatch website. You’ll find them under ‘Products’ in the navigation. If you’re an existing customer and you want to know more, your account manager will be happy to help.