Bethini ‘Syx’ Williams is a data analyst, product manager, singer/songwriter and all-around creative who has worked in non-profit, photography, education, business analytics and is constantly learning. Read her inspiring interview to learn how she got into data analytics and product management, her best advice for working with a mentor, what she learned in Accra, Ghana (and her other favorite travel memory), plus where you can listen to her music!
- Name: Bethini ‘Syx’ Williams
- Pronouns: She/her
- Location: Chicago, IL
- Role: Data analytics, product management and singer/songwriter
- Next Thing She’s Going to Learn: Guitar
- Go-To Learning Resource: Online learning platforms like Coursera & Udemy, & YouTube
- Find Out More: www.instagram.com/syxwilliams | Spotify: click here to listen
Tell us about your background and how you got to where you are now.
After college I started working at a non-profit in a primarily creative (music) role, and was involved in a lot of different projects. After that I worked in photography, then education. In my role in education I was doing analytics to track our recruitment efforts, and got really interested in the discipline. I decided to go back to school for my master’s degree in business analytics, and I have been working full-time in the industry the last several years.
What made you want to pursue your profession/area of focus?
I liked that it was a skill that could be used in any industry and in any context. It also pairs well with personal interests and passion projects, and can also be used to pivot into other areas. Everything we know uses data to move forward so there are a lot of applications.
What’s the best/most important thing you’ve learned or taught yourself? Why?
The most important thing I have learned is the importance of practicing gratitude. When I feel overwhelmed or frustrated or stressed I pause and think of 5 things I am grateful for and it immediately resets my perspective. It helps me to refocus my energy instead of what focusing on what is going wrong, and then determine the best strategy going forward.
What’s the next thing you’re going to learn or teach yourself? Why?
Guitar. I have had one for a while but I have not practiced consistently and would really like to get better. I love the acoustic vibe.
Describe a time when you had to ‘throw yourself in the deep end’ and figure it out.
A few months ago, someone left our team and I was given a role that was more product management focused, which I was interested in exploring more. I took over in the middle of a rebuild of an analytical application, and had to learn the inner workings of it while also communicating with the business users, overseeing testing and providing feedback to the dev team. It was a lot of work, but I learned a lot really quickly.
Do you have advice for finding a strong mentor/ building a relationship with one?
I am still learning this myself, but so far, I have found it helpful to be as specific and clear as possible when engaging with potential mentors and building a relationship.
Avoid vague questions like ‘how did you get where you are’, and instead ask specific questions, and be as clear as possible about you want and how the relationship can support that goal. More than likely they are busy, so this helps you both to get the most out of the time.
Favorite resources for ongoing learning? Why?
I’m a big fan of online learning platforms with on-demand courses like Coursera and Udemy. Also, there is a lot of great information on YouTube; I have found it the most useful when I am looking for a very specific tutorial.
Where have you traveled you feel you learned the most, why?
I went to Accra, Ghana at the end of 2019 through the new year for the ‘Year of the Return’, a travel initiative commemorating 400 years since the first Africans were captured into slavery. The country invited Black people from around the world to Ghana to rediscover their roots. Everyone was so welcoming and kind, and the country is absolutely beautiful. I saw a lot of historical sites and ate amazing food. It was a grounding, spiritual experience. I can’t wait to go back!
Photos courtesy of Bethini Williams.
Out of all the places you’ve been, which has been your favorite and why?
Other than Accra, my favorite visit was to the Little Africa region in Paris with my sister. Whenever I travel, I always try to find ways to support minority communities that tend not to get as many tourism dollars.
In the Little Africa area, I stumbled across a boutique named Peulh Vagabond, and between my sister’s fairly advanced French and the owner’s use of Google translate, we had an amazing conversation about her experience as a creative entrepreneur in Paris, an African immigrant, the obstacles she has overcome, and her aspirations for the next phase of her career. I found out she had recently styled Beyoncé! I saw a dress I loved and ended up wearing it for New Year’s Eve in Ghana. I enjoy conversing with the locals and hearing more nuance about the day to day of living in that country.
Where is the next place you want to travel to (when we can)/why?
I would love to visit Kenya, especially Giraffe Manor. I have a friend from Nairobi and have heard nothing but amazing things about it. Also, I LOVE GIRAFFES. I have seen pictures from Giraffe Manor and it is something I can’t wait to experience.
What’s one thing people may not know about you?
I’m also a singer/songwriter! I love music and going to concerts. Last year I produced, curated and performed in an Aaliyah cover show and I had a ball. I can’t wait until things open back up so I can go to shows and perform again.
Also, my nickname is Syx because I am 6 feet tall.
Photos courtesy of Bethini Williams.
Learn More About Bethini ‘Syx’ Williams Here