When she graduated with a diploma in information systems, Margaret Hickling was sure of one thing: she didn’t want a job as a computer programmer. “I was good at it,” she laughs, “but I just didn’t love the actual programming portion.” What she loved instead was the analysis side of things – from designing data systems, to doing the end testing.
That’s why her current job as a Development Data Analyst is such a perfect fit. Working within the Annual Giving Office, Margaret spends her days doing what she enjoys most: problem solving. Her day-to-day sees her working to help develop programming strategies for the universityʼs mass mail fundraising appeals – from the Queenʼs Annual Appeal to the Campus Community Appeal – all without writing any computer code at all.
“I write the segmentation documents,” Margaret says, explaining that she writes programs in English, which are then passed on to a programmer who turns them into computer code. Ultimately, she says her goal is to find a way to reach the right potential donors with e-mail, phone and letter-driven fundraising campaigns.
“We are very targeted as to who we are asking and what weʼre asking for. For example, the amount we ask for may be based on past giving, or on the fact that there is no history of giving,” says Margaret. She and the programmer then run a number of data tests in order to make sure their system works. Once they’re satisfied that it does, the material is ready for use by whomever is running the specific campaign.
After that material has gone out, Margaret can then turn her attention to analyzing how effective the campaigns have been. “We can track how and when money comes in, and what it came in as a result of,” she explains. By crunching numbers, she is able to deduce whether the campaigns are generating the responses they’re aiming for, all while figuring out what it will take to make the next one more effective.
Though Margaret may have started her career at Queen’s in 2000 working in Alumni Relations (she served as Assistant to the Branches Group and Student-Alumni programming) she says her current role allows her to make best use of her skills and strengths. “For whatever reason, when I look at something, I’m able to see the mistakes,” she laughs. “Someone may have looked at something 10 times, but I can always find the anomalies that others don’t see. I love the challenge of figuring out what’s wrong with something!”
She says she also loves that the work she does helps bring in money that ultimately supports both students and the future of the university. “Queen’s has been very good to me,” she says reflectively. “I work in a wonderful environment, on a gorgeous campus, with people I consider to be part of my family. When it’s time for the next step in my career, I hope to have to look no further than ‘home’!”