Chris is a Data Analyst focusing on the benefits and health care industries in Asheville, N.C.

“[Jung] describes a patient whose physical symptoms are related to the stress of having attained a position for which he is no longer qualified and further explores this common fault in society.

I find myself thinking back to the passage for two reasons, I've encountered individuals who aggressively defend their station out of insecurity and in a more self reflective way want to avoid the same fate for myself.”

Chris will always have a special place in my heart for introducing me to Carl Jung’s views on positional attainment (from the opening of Modern Man in Search of a Soul), a concept furthered by Laurence Peter in the Peter Principle - the idea that people in a hierarchy tend to rise to their "level of incompetence".  For me, this was one of those times when you have an idea that you can’t quite articulate as clearly as you wish, then somebody comes along, says “Oh yeah, you’re talking about X”, and wraps it into a neat little bow for you.

Managerial competence is something data-driven disciplines must contend with.  The “You were a good analyst (or you’ve been around long enough), now you’re going to be a manager, but we’re not really going to acknowledge what a leap this is, prepare you adequately, or offer you any alternative for progressing here” playbook needs revamping.  Personal tales of leaving management for a return to technical work, and pieces advocating to “think of a career path as a lattice rather than ladder“ have become more common in recent years, but practices designed to nurture a truly competent managerial class that can enable the best organizational results are nowhere near the norm.  They will need to be.  No number of data scientists or increasingly data-literate staff will support the outcomes we hope for if overseen by bad managers. 

Throughout our chat on competence, managerial models, and self-reflection, I came to learn that Chris was an English major turned analyst.  The references to pieces of work that include “Search of a Soul“ began to make more sense.  He began his career in the mailroom, became a Routing and Switching technician, and within a few years, a Business Operations Analyst.  I asked Chris what now, after 8 years as an analyst, he would tell other folks considering, or making, similar transitions:

“Studying is important but it isn't everything. You also need to be able to contribute industry relevant ideas to your business, so make sure you are making yourself familiar with the industry. I can't understate the importance of networking and interacting with people working in the problems you are studying to one day face.”

STEM-domination of the analytic fields isn’t going anywhere soon, but I can say it probably wouldn’t hurt to have at least one Humanities major around.  For little things.  Like soul-searching.



TWIML AI Podcast with Sam Charrington

Stanford Online; Data Courses and Programs


  • B.A., English Language and Literature/Letters
  • ~8 years in business and operations analysis