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From Ozon to Tinkoff: Graduate of the Bachelor's in Economics Talks about His Work as an Analyst

Alexander Senatorov graduated from the Bachelor's in Economics in 2022. However, he already started his career as an analyst during his student years, first by winning an internship at Ozon Camp and then becoming a junior marketing analyst. After graduation, Alexander took an interest in product analytics. After six interviews, he joined the gamification team at Tinkoff. Find out about his career path in this article.

From Ozon to Tinkoff: Graduate of the Bachelor's in Economics Talks about His Work as an Analyst

Photo courtesy of Alexander Senatorov

Admissions and First Impressions

I wanted to get into HSE University from the very start; my lyceum teachers told us that it was a great university. I didn't think much about whether to go to Moscow or St Petersburg. I didn't know either city well, as I used to live in Krasnodar. The most difficult thing was to choose the field of study. At first, I was accepted for one, studied on it for six months, and realised that I needed a narrower concentration. Then I took a closer look at Economics at HSE University-St Petersburg.

I really liked how the education was structured at HSE University-St Petersburg, what the university focuses on and which skills it teaches. Over those four years, I didn't write a single useless report. But we regularly had team projects and presentations, just like in big companies. 

I was also impressed by the grading system—everything is clear and objective. We always had strict and detailed criteria, lots of written assignments, and a cumulative grade so that one unfortunate answer in an oral exam didn't matter. To be honest, I don't understand how other universities exist without it.

The programme was really hard to study on, but in the best sense of the word. The knowledge our professors gave us settled in one way or another. I might not remember all the formulas, but I can easily explain their meaning. In addition, the subjects turned out to be useful in my future profession: we had a lot of econometrics, statistics, Python, and SQL. All this combined knowledge creates an orderly system. 

You can gain additional knowledge in minor courses—this is an elective concentration. Lots of my acquaintances went for Data Analysis, and it was useful. But I went another way and signed up for The European Space. I just wanted to learn more about how the economy in the EU is organised, so I followed the topic I found most interesting.

The Start of My Career

I started thinking about my career at the end of the third year. It happened in summer 2021, when COVID restrictions were easing off but at the same time, lots of vacancies and internships were still remote. It was easier to combine work and studies this way—the moment was perfect to start a career.

I didn't choose analytics straight away. Firstly, I was mostly thinking about consulting; plenty of my acquaintances opted for this path. But now I understand that consulting is not my cup of tea. The pace of work on projects is much more intensive, and you have to communicate with clients regularly. But analytics has always attracted me because data can always help you find useful insights for business which you cannot get from visual erudition or intuition. At the same time, analytics brings you closer to the IT world but does not pull you away from business needs.

The first offer of an internship I received was from L’Oreal. That position didn't offer any specific tasks; it was generally related to analytics in retail, marketing, and others. But I decided to hold off on answering, as I had also applied for an internship at Ozon Camp. It seemed to me that the IT company would be more interesting for me and offer more prospects.

The selection process for Ozon Camp consisted of several stages. The final one was a business game which was held in Moscow. As for the benefits: we didn't pay anything, the company did everything. The game itself was a little nerve-wracking. They divided us into teams and gave us a task to solve. In the process, the jury stayed around, catching every word of ours and assessing our skills. It thought I performed poorly, but I decided not to get upset as it was still some experience. And then, they invited me for an internship!

Internship at Ozon Camp

When I joined Ozon Camp, I wasn't very experienced. Of course, they didn't mind that—I was a simple intern, and they didn't have sky-high expectations. However, I decided to get the most I could out of the internship by strengthening my knowledge of Python and SQL.

Interns had the simplest tasks. They were related to the internal data of the company. For instance, we had to count how many clicks it took a user of the Ozon application to make an order after visiting the main page. So we explored what path the clients took, what they did in the process, and what they tripped over. Another task was to calculate the number of orders which would turn a user into a loyal customer. Sometimes, we prepared analytics for advertising: we explored which push notifications on the same topic got more clicks. But even if those tasks were simple, they were still useful. We helped the business to make decisions, even if they were small ones.

Through such small but important tasks, I felt that I was valuable to the team and could even influence something. I really liked this feeling. But I was extremely stressed as well. I treated every mistake as if the sky was falling. Sometimes, I wanted to sink into the earth. But gradually, I became calmer and realised that I was putting way too much pressure on myself.

In general, thanks to the internship, I became much more confident. I gained a general understanding of how businesses worked, especially big ones. After this, I was not scared of thinking about working in a big company. 

The internship came in handy for my studies as well. When you have experience of working in a big team, you understand how to transfer it to study projects. It is easier to think over the structure of working on any task. It is clear when you need a call and when you don't, and you can sort things out along the way. To cut a long story short—I became better at management.

Work at Ozon

When Ozon Camp finished, they hired me as a junior analyst. The tasks didn't change much, but the responsibility for the result grew. They also expect employees to take the initiative and give their personal opinion. An intern, by contrast, relies a lot on what a head says.

Ozon had an amazing atmosphere. Everything was just like the perfect ideal of an IT company: no strict hierarchy, almost everyone communicates informally. Any initiative from junior employees was encouraged. The corporate culture was bright and loyal. There was no rule about starting and finishing work at a certain time. The working hours were flexible, and they took employees' comfort into account. For example, when I had an exam period in the fourth year, they didn't put much pressure on me. Quite the opposite, they treated me with understanding. I used to consider such an approach to be a luxury. But now, it is a necessity for me.

Transfer to Tinkoff

I spent almost two years working at Ozon, but I started feeling burnt out. The work turned into a routine, one task looked a lot like another. I stopped feeling that I was developing and contributing to the company. This was when I thought: 'Maybe I should change my specialisation?' Step by step, I dropped out of marketing analytics and engaged in product analytics, and then I joined Tinkoff.

To be honest, I had already been thinking about the banking sphere—I really wanted to be involved with it. In the end, I am an economist by education.

Why Tinkoff? I like the history of the 'yellow bank' in general, how it arrived at its current identity. After all, it is the first bank without ATMs where everything is online—back then, it was a technological revolution. Now, of course, fintech in Russia is very developed, but back then, it had only started. The romanticism of the innovations at Tinkoff appealed to me.

It wasn't easy to join Tinkoff. Yes, by that time, I had already grown into a middle analyst, but I had to pass six interviews. The first one was with an HR specialist, the second was technical, the third was about my skills, and the rest were with teams. My chances of success were improved thanks to an acquaintance from the Economics programme who was already working in Tinkoff. She noticed that I was interviewing at the company and decided to recommend me without any requests. This is how I joined the company—networking can be effective as well!

At Tinkoff, I am a member of a gamification team, which is about using game mechanics in non-game contexts. This means that we create various features which turn using a product into a habit. A good example of gamification is the Duolingo language-learning application. It is not a game as such, but there are mechanics like ratings, reminders, additional lives, and so on. As a result, people get used to the application and regularly spend time on it. Our team at Tinkoff tries to adapt game mechanics to a banking context. Our goal is to involve clients, make them open the application more often and realise the value of using the product. One of the most popular examples of gamification is the game 'Five Letters'. Clients who guess the word of the day in the application get increased cashback from partners and other prizes.

My Typical Working Day

I start my morning with planning. I look at the list of tasks and choose what I am going to do first and what I can postpone. At noon, we have a team call where we discuss the status of tasks. This call gathers analysts, editors, designers, product managers... In short, everyone. Later, after the briefing, I get down to the tasks. Sometimes, I need advice from other analysts and learn which metrics they use. Only after that do I analyse data and draw up a daily report, find and highlight mistakes.

I truly like my job, as I am constantly learning something new about analytic and banking processes. It is especially great that I can test various hypotheses and try new things—we are free in this regard. There are no limits.

Plans for the Future

From the point where I am now, I can develop in two directions: as an expert or as management. If I choose the first path, I can deepen my knowledge of data analysis and become irreplaceable. Or I can develop in management, bring up interns and junior analysts and build processes inside the team to make them comfortable for everyone. I am more interested in the management path, so I signed up for courses in mentoring at Tinkoff to lead thoughtfully.

Advice for those who want to build their careers during their studies

Collect as much information as possible about companies, conferences, summer schools and internships. There are more opportunities than it seems at first glance.

If there are no real examples in your portfolio, come up with a project yourself. In the example of a pet project, it is possible to show your skills and explain to an employer that you can manage such tasks. 

Don't be afraid to try and make mistakes. Yes, it happens that you don't like a certain field or an internship doesn't 'hit the spot'. Don't get stuck on just one thing, it's better to look for something that appeals to you personally.