Expert of the Week: Yujin Lee

Yujin Lee

MS in Customer Analytics Candidate at Olin Business School

What is your professional background?

I studied business at Ewha Womans University, in Seoul, South Korea. In my junior year, I enrolled in Marketing Research. I found marketing science to be a very interesting field. Since then, I have always had an interest in Marketing.


I was inspired by Forbes' list of successful international businesses. I wanted to study abroad in the United States. I was accepted into Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey. I was so excited to see and experience a truly international marketing environment.


During my time as an undergraduate, I completed three marketing internships in US and Korea. I accomplished this through online courses.


After graduation, I worked as a consultant for Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) an international organization aiming economic and environmental sustainability. My main job was to conduct cost analysis by researching energy reports and research on smart-cities projects of IBM and Cisco for future collaboration with GGGI.  


Currently, I am pursuing my master’s degree in Customer Analytics at Washington University in St. Louis - Olin Business School. I’m learning how to combine my passion for marketing with an analytical skillset.


What sparked your interest in analytics?

During my three internships, I realized marketing could not be effective in the digital age without thorough research, appropriate strategy, and state-of-art tools.


My internship for UN World Food Program (WFP) demonstrated that meticulous use of extensive data (Google, Facebook) could lead to enhanced results. For example, awareness of global hunger could be raised by utilizing social media and analytics. This would alleviate the inefficiency of food distribution. Food scarcity could be enhanced by utilizing big data analysis.


This is, however, just the beginning for international organization use of big data, and I was fascinated how business decisions and results could be enhanced by using analytics rather than relying on intuition and know-how. That was how I decided to continue and pursue my career in Business Analytics.


In layman's terms, how does United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) operate?

WFP, a part of United Nations System, is voluntarily funded from governments, private companies and individuals, etc. WFP utilizes this fund to bring food assistance to more than 80 million people in 80 countries. WFP gets food to the hungry fast by applying their knowledge in nutrition and food procurement and logistics.


Not only does WFP deliver food to the hungry, WFP operates programs to contribute to long term benefits for environment and livelihoods. School Meal program is a great example. WFP provides meals and take-home rations for the students. Students come to school to eat and study. Basically, the school meal acts as a safe place for children with reliable access to food.


This program not only feeds students, but also feeds students’ mind. Secondly, WFP helps vulnerable people by having them build or boost assets that will eventually increase community’s resilience in the long-term. While assisting food might be temporarily method, helping them to grow their own food and infrastructure is a long-term, so that they can escape from hunger by themselves.


Can you tell us about the High Energy Biscuit?

High Energy Biscuits (HEB) are wheat-based biscuits. They provide 450 kilo-calories of energy. WFP sends high-energy biscuits to help families survive.


As a marketing intern at WFP Seoul Office, I found high energy biscuits as an eye-catching item. I decided to use it to segment my target audience within South Korea. Then, I initiated a marketing project “Do you know about High Energy Biscuits?” My goal from this marketing campaign was to promote the importance of small biscuit HEB and raise awareness of global hunger.


First, I surveyed 250 people to find out how Korean people perceive HEB as in its taste, calorie count, and I also asked what other biscuits taste or look similar in the market. The campaign was successful; the biscuit was quite effective to gain attention. People seemed surprised after knowing the power of such a small biscuit.


Based on the data I got from survey, I published web and mobile friendly blog posts about HEB, as well as on magazine. The collaboration with South Korea’s dominant search engine NAVER was also helpful to gain nation-wide attention from more than 200,000 people. It was one of the most successful online marketing campaigns.


What should businesses know about the WFP?

 WFP seeks to catalyze change through innovative partnerships in the fight against hunger. Companies are helping to solve zero hunger problem together through raising funds, sharing of equipment or access to knowledge.


By partnering with the WFP, companies can make a real difference in the fight against hunger. This is accomplished in conjunction with corporate social responsobility and business objectives. Major global companies such as Unilever, DSM and MasterCard have already started to do this, joining with governments and civil society in the quest for zero hunger.


What do you foresee in the near future about marketing analytics?

I think this question would be more suitable for whom has more experience in marketing or analytics. However, from my humble perspective, I believe the trend in marketing analytics would be a shift from web to mobile. Smartphones have become a small computer, and more than half of digital traffic online now comes from mobile devices and through mobile apps.

I believe this figure seems likely to only rise in successive years. Advertisements are shifting to target the audience using mobile, which has reduced the advertising cost used other channels. So I believe marketers will be able to get massive consumer data from mobile apps, and utilize this data to find consumer insights and hence to deliver customized messages and products.


What about the long term?

In the long term, I see myself as a consultant or project manager in the internet, consulting or health care industry. Specifically, I am interested in finding patterns in data and using these patterns to deliver enhanced decision-making.

In the very long term, I want to apply my expertise in analytics for the public well-being.


What do you plan to do after graduate school?

I plan to apply my knowledge and skills in industry such as consulting, internet and health care industry.


What advice would you give to someone looking to become involved with marketing analytics?

I think my advice could be helpful for people who are curious about analytics but concerned if they are not qualified enough to pursue career in this field. I was not confident even when I was applying for master’s program in analytics and decided to pursue my career in analytics.. I just thought I don’t have a strong analytical background. But I decided to do it because I had a deep curiosity and passion to learn big data and analytics.


In this sense, I recommend you to figure out if marketing is really what you want to do. It’s about passion and fit in marketing. Although analytical mindset and programming skills are important in marketing analytics. At its core, it is marketing.


However, analytical and programming skills cannot be ignored. If you are unfamiliar with programming/analytical skills such as R, Python, SQL etc…Don’t be afraid! Because I had no background in programming skills especially. All you need is aspiration to learn. There are so many free online lectures. I highly recommend to get your hands on free courses provided by educational technology companies such as Coursera also offers a set of data science specialization courses. You could also apply to schools that are highly focused on analytics.


Go ahead and learn skills you think you are lack of, and try to apply your knowledge and skills at your work :)


Connect with Yujin Lee on LinkedIn.