Change makers, problem solvers, super heroes? Whatever you call economists, they’re professionals who engage in analysis to discover information and drive results. Bryan School alumna Lydia Hassell is one such leader. Whether automating sales forecasts or predicting future trends, she impacts HanesBrands Inc.’s bottom line in her data analysis career.
“I’ve worked cross-functionally with many different teams on a variety of projects including supply chain, finance, and front-end sales initiatives at HanesBrands. Our team of ‘consultants’ is an energetic group that believes we can change the company through data analysis. It’s a great environment to work in.”
For the past four years, Hassell has worked in a role she describes as an “internal consultant position.” Her official title is Analytics Technologist II, but her responsibilities span the breadth of data analytics as it relates to the automation of processes. HanesBrands needs reliable forecasting capabilities since accurate forecasting affects every aspect of the supply chain—from ordering of supplies, to staffing of employees, to delivery of shipments. Hassell works on automating those forecasts.
“I recently worked on an automated point-of-sale (sales forecast) from store to customer that helped accurately predict inventory demands,” says Hassell. “Some customers order a steady stream of product; others—like Walmart or Target—order in bulk, but order erratically. We run actual sales data through 200,000+ algorithms to produce a reliable forecast, which helps our financial sales plan match our company supply plans.”
Hassell’s main challenge at HanesBrands is to determine the demand for specific products. She must quantify when, where and how much HanesBrands underwear people purchase and reasonably predict future buying trends. She achieves this task by evaluating macroeconomic trends and using time-series modeling, skills she learned in her master’s program.
Hassell also shares statistical findings on HanesBrands’ customers with buyers for stores. Using sales performance analysis, Hassell helped one store realize sales and profits would increase by maintaining higher inventory levels. “It may seem intuitive, but some stores think they can run low on inventory, and it won’t affect sales level,” says Hassell. “We help stores see things differently.”
A true Greensboro native, Hassell started at UNC Greensboro earlier than most—she attended preschool on campus. She earned her undergraduate degree at Clemson University and returned home to pursue her graduate degree at the Bryan School, soon discovering how to use her passion for numbers and her interest in human behavior to forge her data analytics career.
In the MA in Applied Economics program, Hassell grew interested in how institutions and people spend their money as well as how the field of applied economics combines mathematical and social concepts. Today, she uses the economic principles, mathematical models and statistical software she learned in the program to drive her data analytics career. She appreciated the Bryan School’s small program size, saying, “We were a close-knit group that pushed each other throughout the program.”