Meet Jerry Oelerich, Senior Analyst

Author: Tyler Vick Published: May 31, 2019

Where are you from and where do you live now?

I grew up in Iowa along the Mississippi River. I remember that there were a lot of cornfields, but I don’t like corn! So perhaps that wasn’t the ideal setting for me. My family moved to the Pacific Northwest when I was a teenager and I’ve stayed in the region ever since. Portland has been my home for the past eight years, and I love it here!

What do you do at MFA?

Generally, as a senior analyst, I help execute projects that involve a lot of data wrangling and analysis. I’ve worked on everything from managing environmental data in support of the Natural Resource Damage Assessment for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, to stitching together data-based evidence to support complex litigations, to my current focus, which is forecasting student enrollment for K-12 school districts for MFA’s GIS and data analytics group, FLO Analytics.

What’s rewarding about your job?

Getting to work on projects that have a meaningful impact on the public and getting to collaborate with colleagues that so strongly value integrity and quality in our work. I’m also constantly challenged to innovate, which is rewarding because I love being creative.

Why is what you do important?

Because we help our clients in ways very few others can. One example is the enrollment forecasting work I do for school districts. It’s something that school districts need to do as a core part of their long-term planning. The forecasts are based on many different data inputs and assumptions about the future yet have to be as reliable as possible. And not a lot of companies do enrollment forecasting. The mission of a school district is to provide quality education to our future generations. Although the work we do doesn’t tie directly into educating children, we’re helping strengthen the school districts in other valuable ways.

What skills do you bring to your work?

I bring a strong sense for numbers, an ability to mathematically model many different types of phenomena, and an ability to see and draw connections between very disparate datasets. Also important in the work I do is an ability to quickly alternate between intricate details and big-picture thinking. I also really love mentoring at work, and I have a lot of experience in that. Through mentorship—including providing support and encouragement—I believe I have helped my colleagues to do more than they originally thought possible.

What do you like to do off the clock?

I like to run up hills and spoil my overzealous black lab, Yogi. I also like trying to find small local businesses to support, especially coffee shops and specialty food businesses such as artisan butchers.

If you were not an analyst, what would you be?

I would be an emergency room doctor because not only do I love helping people, but I thrive on intensity. Fortunately, I married someone who works as a critical care pharmacist, so I get to live vicariously through her in that regard and hear about her experiences working in emergency medicine.

What’s on your bucket list?

Spending a few months totally offline on a cross-country road trip, maybe from Seattle, Washington to Washington, DC. I love exploring and meeting new people and hearing their stories.

Learn more about Jerry Oelerich here.