From CoBE intern to data analytics executive

Thursday, December 17, 2020, 5:57am by

CoBE alum Aaron Geerlings originally planned to spend just a year or two in Hilo. After spending a few summers of his childhood with his grandparents in Hilo, he figured it would be a nice place to visit and get some college credits. But he liked UH Hilo enough to stay, and in his senior year he took on an internship that would shape his career.

An internship with Kelly Moran led to working for him as a property manager and sales assistant after his 2009 graduation. It struck him that commercial real estate was very different from the emotion-driven retail side, he says.

Commercial real estate is all about the numbers, folks approach it totally differently. It’s not about the looks, or the neighborhood or if it has granite countertops, it’s just what is my buying cost and what will this asset generate for me. It can all be boiled down to a spreadsheet.

In 2013, Geerlings left Hawaii for a startup in Baltimore. He recalls,

This complete gamble of taking a chance with this startup led me to the opportunity of working as a data analyst. Luckily for me the startup ended up doing very well before being acquired by Groupon. I had a few different positions in Data warehousing, analytics and Business intelligence before landing my current position.

Geerlings is now the Director of Data Warehouse and Analytics at a Baltimore-based marketing firm. He manages a team of Data Engineers, Data Analysts and Business Intelligence analysts. What has he learned that might be helpful for today’s CoBE students?

When you are working in a company you have to learn how to work with others. If someone is not doing their work you have to figure out how to help them out so they can deliver what you need to get it done.

Learn how to use Excel. It is still the #1 analysis tool used today. Learning Excel was a huge deal, it launched my data career.

Critical thinking skills are really difficult to teach and can be difficult to quantify, but are incredibly valuable in the workplace.

Geerlings appreciates the mentorship he received, and believes in giving back. CoBE students are invited to connect on LinkedIn with questions about resumes, Data Analytics, or working in startups.

And despite his busy work schedule, Geerlings takes time for himself.

I still ride my motorcycle whenever I can. I really miss riding the Big Island though, nothing beats riding over the saddle watching Mauna Kea break through the clouds.