Jacqueline Ann DeStefano-Tangorra, CPA, CFE, MBA
Business Intelligence (BI) Consultant, Founder of Omni Business Intelligence Solutions, Published Author
Hi, my name is Jacqueline Ann Tangorra and I am the CEO and founder of Omni Business Intelligence Solutions.
One of the things that I love about business intelligence is being able to tell a story using key insights and those insights could live in your data whether you know it or not. And I love the challenge and the creativity associated with being able to extract those insights through the data and being able to tell a story that only your business can tell.
I don't work 9-5, I work 24/7, but that's okay with me because I love what I do. I know how important flexibility and balance is in my life.
And so when I have that pocket of free moments, I like to spend that with my husband and with our puppy biscotti who is adorable and he puts the biggest smile on my face. I love just being able to play with him throughout my workday and spend time with him.
So writing for me definitely started as a hobby, more of a therapeutic means and has absolutely grown into a passion and career in writing. In 2018, I published my first poetry collection entitled Water Lilies.
This was when I started to realize that I loved helping people fast forward now to 2022, I'm actually working on my second book which combines both of my interests, whether it's poetry or it's my love of technology and I'm able to do that being an entrepreneur, it really allows for me to have that flexibility and making my own schedule.
I have to give major credit to Upwork because I'm able to find work in the marketplace on my terms. I work with my clients that fit my schedule and theirs, and it allows for me to have the life that I want.
And I think it's such an incredible thing in this world that we live in now to be able to make your own work hours and to work on your own terms to be your own boss.
And while it can be very intimidating, all the things that are ahead for someone such as myself, I think there's an extreme reward associated with that and I'm so glad that I found Upwork because Upwork truly empowers the freelancers and the entrepreneurs.
A closeUp look at Jacqueline's career.
What about your career makes you want to get up in the morning?
What does an average week look like for you?
Client meetings, networking and collaborating, drafting proposals, aligning on strategy and creative brainstorming sessions, upskilling myself and others, planning, reading, writing, and of course, most importantly, making quality time to spend with my husband and our puppy.
What would surprise people about your daily work?
Outside of my Expert-Vetted business on Upwork, I am a published author of an inspirational poetry collection entitled Water Lilies. I am proud to say that my book recently hit #2 on Amazon Kindle’s Best Sellers for Christian Poetry and in the Top 50 for Poetry. I am in the process of building a community on Instagram (IG: @jacq.ann) where I share my poetry and inspirational bits with my readers to help people feel heard, loved, and healed. Currently, I am in the process of working on my second book, which encompasses similar themes to my first; however, this book bundles my passion for art and technology into one, and is scheduled to be released early 2023. What excites me about both aspects of my work is that both avenues require me to tap into the deepest layers of my thoughts, where I am encouraged to produce results that I am not only proud of, but also are novel to me.
Throughout my life, I have always been writing, whether it be poetry, short stories, essays, etc. Writing is a release for me and oftentimes a form of therapy. While I did not go to college for writing, it has always been a natural love of mine, and the desire to write has always been there. Some people get excited about watching their favorite Netflix show, or going shopping on the weekends, and I get excited about pouring a cup of coffee, sitting on my front porch with my tablet, and just going to town with the thoughts. I’ve been writing poetry since I was seven years old, and have not stopped since. As I continue to grow as a writer, I challenge myself to be consistent with my true goal. While I’d love to one day be a New York Times Best Seller, I recognize that I do what I do because I want to tap the shoulders’ of souls that are in need of love, guidance, or hope.
Tell us about your career journey.
How did you get from high school to your current role?
I graduated from an all-girl academy in 2011, which was truly the beginning of my career journey. It was in this school that I began to understand the importance of positive study habits, time and task management, believing in myself, all while challenging myself to be creative as much as possible, even if it meant going off the beaten path for a particular assignment.
A turning point for me happened when I was a freshman in high school. I remember being complacent with low scores on assignments and tests, and I did not feel motivated to want to excel in academia. One day, I was assigned to be a part of a group for a project, and I could tell that the team wasn’t thrilled because they knew I did not take grades that seriously. It was something about the assumption that I would not give the project the respect it deserved that lit a fire within me. I did not like others assuming that about me, so I decided to push myself and make a big change. At that point I began to self-teach many things, including proper study habits, which enabled me to achieve high marks on my assignments and tests. I then was qualified to be in the honors and advanced placement classes, and this further inspired me to see what else I could do if I simply put my mind to it.
Most importantly, during my time in high school, I became acquainted with a deep love of faith, and realized how important it was to include God in all aspects of my life. Shortly after high school, I then stepped foot into a local college on Long Island, where I declared that I would study accounting for undergraduate, and business administration for graduate school. During my time on campus, I met some incredible colleagues and professors that guided, mentored, and inspired me to push myself in all facets of my life, especially as it relates to the accounting profession and pursuing CPA certification. Before graduating from college, I had passed all four parts of the CPA exam, and upon graduating, I achieved summa cum laude designation.
Since 2016, I spent five years working in public accounting as a financial statement auditor, with a NYS CPA license, which made it an obvious decision for me to continue building a career down this path. Like many during the 2020 global pandemic crisis, I began to work remotely and reinvested my commuting time into learning new softwares and applications within the business intelligence space. As a result of the reinvested time, I obtained professional certifications in Tableau, Alteryx, Google, Adobe, and Microsoft, all of which then gave me the confidence to start searching for short-term projects where I could test out my newfound data analyst skills. While scrolling around on LinkedIn one day, I noticed an Upwork advertisement and was intrigued when I reached the platform and saw many projects in the data visualization marketplace available. Immediately, I recognized that I located an area of growing demand and this further inspired me to want to learn more. I then began to take on small projects, outside of my full-time work hours, whether it be in the early mornings or the late evenings. My first projects were fixed prices where I built dashboards for $10, $25, $100, just to get my feet wet and build credibility on the platform. With each client I got the chance to work with, I gained more skills and learned critical information about the industry. After about two years, I had over 100 clients, 60+ 5 star reviews, 100% JSS, Top Rated Plus, Expert-Vetted Program, and nearly $300K in earnings. After the first year, I hired staff to support my growing company on Upwork so that I could serve my clients in a way that was best suited to their needs, offering them a breadth of resources. Soon after, it was obvious that business intelligence became a true passion. This is when I knew I needed to make a long-term career change, which was absolutely not an easy decision to make, but one that came from a place of confidence, knowing that this was a path I needed to take in my life.
It was September 1st, 2021 when I transferred into a consulting group within the same public accounting firm I started my career at. Since then I have had the chance to work on Fortune 500 accounts, strategizing their marketing operations model, performing customer segmentation analysis, assisting in the implementation of customer data platforms, identity services, prototyping and custom app builds for top media companies, and much more. It was October of 2022, when I bravely decided to leave my comfortable corporate position and become a full time entrepreneur to grow my company in what I am most passionate about.
The takeaway here is that if I never found Upwork, I may not have been exposed to projects that filled me with the confidence I needed to make a career change, and pursue a path filled with more passion and creativity for me.
What was it that made you choose this career?
What made me want to choose the career path of becoming a data analyst and technology consultant was when I realized I not only loved the creativity associated with what projects I was working on, but I just clicked with it. I understood business intelligence and analytics more than the average person, and I was growing very quickly for someone who didn’t even study this field in college. I recognized that there is so much telemetry and existing data each business collects on a regular basis, whether they are aware of it or not. I knew that I wanted to provide a customized service of intelligence to those businesses who are looking to grow and have a full knowledge and awareness of the ins and outs of their business.
Are there any expectations you had about your career that you have found differed from reality, in both a good or bad way?
There are always ups and downs to every career path, but I never considered how fast the learning pace would be in the technology industry, and how competitive the publishing industry is. It was not until I really dipped my toes into both worlds, that I realized how hard I would need to work to be successful in both. I’ve learned that I can’t just rely on talent or an existing set of knowledge; I need to grow as a professional in both fields so that I can remain an invaluable resource to my clients, and impactful with my words for all of my readers.
Do you have a mentor or role model? If so, how have they helped you in your career?
Gratefully, I have had mentors in my career along different stages of my journey. However, my first mentor was my father, who gave me tons of sound career advice that I am so grateful I listened to. As I began to navigate through college, I met a couple professors who provided informal mentorship in many ways as I was contemplating going down the path of CPA certification. Once I left college, I started full-time at a large public accounting firm, where I stumbled upon a few individuals that coached me, helping me to identify and seize great opportunities, all while remaining an advocate for my career path. As a result of working in consulting, I have worked on teams that partnered with other companies, of which I met some wonderful mentors there that had a tremendous impact on my creativity. I am very thankful for all those that came into my career path thus far, and I look forward to who I will meet in the future. While I do not aspire to be anyone else but myself, I can truly appreciate the beautiful qualities and wisdom that others have offered me and those around them, and I am beyond grateful for their choice to do so.
What is one piece of advice you’d give your younger self about your career path?
You need to be your own advocate here. If you don’t believe in yourself and the quality of your work, then how can you expect someone else to?
Do not be afraid to take risks outside of your comfort zone. If you do not like where you are in life, you do not have to accept it. You are more than capable of making a change in your life that brings you genuine joy, but it is you that has to make that decision–not your family, your spouse, your children, your siblings, etc. At the end of the day, you answer to yourself, and you should want to look in the mirror and know you are choosing a life that brings you joy.
While the work may be challenging at first as you adjust to new changes, you will be inspired and motivated to grow quickly because you chose a path that empowers you. I started out in accounting for 5 years and was on track to remain in accounting for the rest of my life; knowing that was not what I wanted, I knew I needed to reassess my skills and passions to determine what other paths would suit me in the long-run.
What advice or tips do you have for someone who might be interested in taking a similar path?
Know your worth, but be humble. As you start out, you are building a brand of credibility, so there may be less flexibility in being able to stand firm on higher pricing. It’s OK to take on a lower budget project just to get a great review because everything contributes towards building a successful brand, business, and profile. It’s not all about quick money, if you are genuinely looking to scale.
Be your authentic self and treat your clients how you would want to be treated. Often in the world, there are many others that might be able to do what you do for a cheaper price, but you have to know what your X factor is. Is it your client service overall? Your project management skills? Do you have a team of professionals your clients will have access to throughout the project? Do you work on your clients’ local time, versus your own? If you put your heart into your work, your clients will feel it. And before you even have to ask them for a five-star rating, they will want to do it for you.
Never stop learning. Even those who have reached the apex of their career will always find they are continuously learning, nonetheless. Surround yourself with people who are eager to grow and learn just like you. Chase new certifications, read journals and articles in your field of expertise, stay current on issues that impact your industry and clients, have conversations with like-minded individuals, become aware of cross-selling opportunities for other services that may align with your clients needs, become a true referral source, and a partner people can count on. Own your business and own your brand.
Remember your roots. Often, when people start to experience success, whether they are getting promoted, making quick money, or gaining a strong following online, they tend to forget how they started. They tend to forget the humble beginnings and the moments that once made them excited. It’s important to remember those roots because there is someone else watching you right now climb your ladder to success and aspiring to be like you. If you have the chance to create opportunities for others to experience what you did, please do not pass them up. Leaders have an obligation in this world to create new leaders, and we cannot do that without taking the time to do so.