How to become a Top SAS Programmer by Tricia Aanderud
Tricia Aanderud is an enthusiastic SAS BI leader who is passionate about empowering companies with #data #visualization and data #science ideas and #methods.
As co-author of three SAS BI focused books (“Introduction to SAS Visual Analytics”, “The 50 Keys to Learning SAS Stored Processes” and “Building Business Intelligence Using SAS”), she empowers users with the ideas and skills to create reports, #dashboards, and visualizations that matter!
She has been invited to presented #papers at the #SAS #Professional #Forum, SAS #Global #Forum, and many other regional user groups. By breaking down complex #technical concepts even non-technical #team #members are able to grasp the basics and become key contributors. From her #presentations, users consistently commented “a dull subject became interesting and even fun to #learn”.
Can you please tell us a bit a bit about your career path and any publications or professional communications?
“Sure! I have a different path from a lot of other SAS #Programmers. I started out as a #communications major in college. I went to Eastern Kentucky University. I come from a family of farmers, so I’m really just a farm girl. But I started out as a technical #writer for IBM and then I moved to a company that did the #telecommunications equipment and I got interested in the process management, it was in the #quality #department. And so I switched over to become a process #engineer and part of being a process engineer is just measuring processes, knowing if you’re getting better or not and the company had #SAS. So I started learning how to use SAS. And it was very quick, it was very easy, I was thinking that it would be a lot more difficult but it was not at all. And what I was able to do is create fabulous reports and help the company improve, and I went over to become a customer service manager and I ran a call #center for a while and did all the reporting for them and learned how to do stored processes and that’s what prompted me to write the #BI book and also the stored process #book and then I became a consultant because I loved SAS so much. And I’ve been writing more about data visualization in the last few years and working with SAS visual analytics.”
Can you propose 3 valuable tips or strategies that are necessary to become a Top SAS Programmer?
” I think one thing that new programmers need to focus on is making sure that they understand the requirements that are given to them. Because sometimes you really have to question the #customer who may be your boss or may just be another #employee in your #department about what they’re trying.What question they’re trying to answer? Because sometimes they’ll tell you something they want but then when you really start talking to them or you deliver something you find out it’s not what they want to do at all. So you really have to make sure that you ask a lot of questions and that you clarify several times what the goal of the report or the information is.
I think you also have to be aware of what’s the right tool for the job. You need to really have like a good understanding of what the different procedures are, what they do, what works better. For instance you’d want to know is the #data step faster or is PROC #SQL faster in this instance or maybe a #hash table. You really need to understand like what’s the right tool for the job.
And I think probably also one thing that people don’t take into account particularly maybe people who are more analytic minded as opposed to someone like me who’s a little bit more of a communications person is it really matters how your output looks. It needs to be pretty. And people scoff at that but our eye is attracted to pretty things. And one of the things that sometimes happens is you’ll create a report and you don’t really understand good data visualization techniques and it makes it hard for the person looking at the report to understand what you’re trying to say. So pretty simple you know learn what different people say like Ed Tufte and Stephen Few and there’s still a few other people out there that are good to follow as well.”
Which SAS procedure do you find the most useful (do you use most often)?
“I tend to use PROC SQL more than anything else. So I’m going to say that’s my favorite procedure just because I get so much power and flexibility out of it. I like it because I can sum, I can do averages, I can join things together, I can very quickly get results. So PROC SQL!”