Hal Varian – Google’s chief economist (thinks I am sexy)
So one of the top jobs in the world has to be the friggin’ gig that Hal Varian has. He’s the chief economist at Google. He might as well have business cards that read “Hal Varian, Mother Friggin Rock Star.” Plus he did his BS at MIT and got his MA in math and his PhD in econ at Berkeley. According to Wikipedia (aka digitalgod) he finished his education at MIT in ’69 and his PhD at Berkeley in ’73. WTF? It was the early 70′s and he was in Berkeley! Some of his classmates are STILL there trying to figure out which end of the bong their dissertation is supposed to fall out of. So to get the masters, the doctorate, and smoke the chronic in 4 years is amazing. And it just contributes to his legend. Is it just me or does he look like a slightly more healthy Steve Jobs in that picture to the left?
You may not know that he wrote a textbook on Intermediate Microeconomics. It’s only $55 on eBay! Since the he wrote the book on microecon, not macro, I take back all that reefer smoking smack I was saying. Becasue it’s a well known fact among economists that only macroeconomists smoke pot. They also practice voodoo, but that’s fodder for another post.
That’s all well and good, but why am I writing this? Glad you ask. Let me just cut to the chase:
Hal Varian Thinks I Am Sexy!
Yep, he said so in an interview with McKinsey Quarterly Magazine. But don’t take it from me, read for yourself:
I keep saying the sexy job in the next ten years will be statisticians. People think I’m joking, but who would’ve guessed that computer engineers would’ve been the sexy job of the 1990s? The ability to take data—to be able to understand it, to process it, to extract value from it, to visualize it, to communicate it—that’s going to be a hugely important skill in the next decades, not only at the professional level but even at the educational level for elementary school kids, for high school kids, for college kids. Because now we really do have essentially free and ubiquitous data. So the complimentary scarce factor is the ability to understand that data and extract value from it.
I think statisticians are part of it, but it’s just a part. You also want to be able to visualize the data, communicate the data, and utilize it effectively. But I do think those skills—of being able to access, understand, and communicate the insights you get from data analysis—are going to be extremely important. Managers need to be able to access and understand the data themselves.
Yes, I know that I am an economist, not a statistician, but Hal’s trying to be discrete. It was just a little too obvious he was talking about me when he got to the part about “visualize the data, communicate the data, and utilize it effectively.” As much as I am flattered, I have to be perfectly clear here. I am happily married and wouldn’t give that up for the world. But if you ever want to have me over to the Googleplex for free lattes and sushi, Hal, you know my number.