We were recently privileged to have the opportunity to interview one of the top minds in web analytics, Simo Ahava, from Helsinki, Finland. Both this year and last year, Ahava was a finalist for the Most Influential Industry Contributor from the DAA Awards for Excellence. He has also won the Platinum Punchcard Award for Most Innovative Web Analytics from SuperWeek Hungary two years running. Ahava met with us to share his story of how he reached where he is today.
Q: Can you tell us a little about your current position at Reaktor Ventures?
A: Sure. I started working at Reaktor in 2015, where I was given the position of head of analytics. Later, I became a senior data advocate, which led me to Growth Partner — the job I’ve held for almost a year now. This is very different from my past positions, as it involves educating others and supporting organizations with their analytics needs.
I’ve been lucky enough to work with some of the best startups in this region of the world. Our company provides advice to these startups to help them grow and improve their critical thinking, ultimately allowing them increase their client base.
Q: How did you enter the web analytics field?
A: Well, I actually began my career in academics. I studied English philology, general linguistics, and North American studies at the University of Helsinki, during which time I worked as a research assistant and project manager for HARES, at the university. I should explain — the HARES project is a digital collection of recorded speech. My main role was to design an audio archive and XML schema.
This experience working with technology, combined with my previous knowledge of code — I built my first website in 1997 — drove me away from linguistics and furthered my interest in IT. After graduating, I began working as a sales and project manager for IT solutions at Innofactor Plc. Despite my job title, I acted as account manager for numerous private sector accounts at the company, centering on CMS solutions, content management, and CMS consultation, among other things.
Q: When did you start focusing on Google Analytics?
A: I received my Google Analytics Individual Qualification in 2013 and became a Google Developers Expert in Google Analytics in May 2014. Although I still specialize in Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager, I have used several other web analytics tools. What is more important than the tool you use, I believe, is how you harness all a tool has to offer.
Q: Can you tell us a bit about your blog?
A: I’m passionate about training and educating. Setting up a blog was the ideal way to reach a wide audience and teach web analytics, as well as other topics in digital marketing, such as SEO and web development. I aim to make my posts accessible to all users, whether they are new to web analytics or veterans of the technology. At the same time, I want to ensure every post is interesting and offers actionable tips to help everyone get more out of Google Analytics and other tools.
Q: You said you are committed to education: how else do you educate Google Analytics users?
A: I often speak at conferences and seminars on the subject and also hold my own training sessions, for beginners to advanced users. Plus, I offer consultation services on web analytics implementation, integration, customization, and advanced setup.
Q: One final question — we want to get to know you better! — what do you do in your spare time?
A: My main hobby is playing the ukulele! I also play guitar — I’m a big fan of the blues and heavy metal — and, obviously, I write for my blog. Plus, I love to make people happy with my bad jokes and puns.
Thanks so much for talking with us, Simo!