Jennifer Karas Montez


B.S. Mathematics 1992, M.S. Statistics 1994

Global Strategy Manager, Shell Oil Company

"If someone asked me 10 years ago what I would be doing today, my answer wouldn’t have come close to reality," said Jennifer Karas Montez. "Shell is a large company with many divisions and many types of roles. Therefore it is possible—in fact, quite common—for employees to progress through several types of roles throughout their career. My first role with Shell was as a statistician within their Research and Development division. I worked with chemists to develop new petrochemical products in our labs. I eventually transferred into our marketing division as a marketing researcher involved in creating TV advertisements and defining the look-and-feel of our stations. Several roles later, I joined the credit card division."

Montez is now the Global Strategy Manager for Shell’s credit card division, which she said, "involves defining the credit card offer, selecting targeted customer segments, and developing marketing campaigns for over 25 countries across Europe, Asia-Pacific and the U.S. As you can imagine, I travel extensively to fascinating parts of the world to meet with our local sales and marketing teams. In fact, I lived in London for a year for this role." The other countries Montez has visited include Portugal, Belgium, Finland, Singapore, Brazil, the Dominican Republic and Kenya.

"If this path doesn’t seem varied enough," declared Montez, "then consider that I started my career as a statistician in medical diagnostics and the food and beverage industry before joining Shell." While completing her M.S. degree in applied statistics at Purdue, Montez worked as an intern at Boehringer Mannheim Corporation in Indianapolis helping to develop medical diagnostic products and enhancing the reliability of laboratory tests. Her first position after graduation was as a statistician at Anheuser-Busch Company, where she created new food and beverage products based on statistically designed experiments.

Montez’s education has played a significant role in developing her career. She said, "My degree in statistics from Purdue has proven absolutely invaluable. A foundation in statistics not only provides the ability to properly collect and analyze data, it also provides the ability to think in a very logical and structured manner about issues that may or may not involve data. The ability to think through complex problems – from defining the problem to solving it – is a skill that employers strongly value. In fact, this skill was a key factor in my progression through varied roles in Shell and the companies I worked for prior. Moreover, Purdue’s statistics program is one of the best in the country, which gave me the technical tools and confidence I needed."

Montez has recently added to her education credentials with another degree. "While working full time, I obtained a masters in sociology at night," she said. Learning new analytical techniques and different approaches to complex issues enhanced my overall problem solving skill and marketability. I brought these techniques into my statistics job and eventually parlayed this additional degree into a marketing research job and a board of directors’ position on a nonprofit organization." Montez is Chairperson of the Fundraising and Events Committee of the Board of Directors of Access Health Incorporated.

To current students, Montez advises, "I recommend choosing a complementary discipline such as biology, sociology or economics early in your coursework or your career. Once you identify it, learn it. If you’re fortunate enough to identify your complementary interest during your coursework, then take courses in it and ultimately apply to companies with that particular focus. For example, if you have an interest in sociology, take courses in sociology and look for jobs with organizations such as RAND or the United Nations. If you enjoy biology, take courses in it and look for jobs with pharmaceutical companies or organizations such as the National Cancer Institute. Get involved with that discipline’s professional groups, in addition to the American Statistical Association. If you do these two things, you will be a better statistician and will significantly increase your professional network and potential."

Montez added, "If you really enjoy learning statistical methods, I encourage you to obtain your graduate degree in statistics, as you will find your statistical toolbox (and hence your career opportunities) increase ten-fold after graduate work."

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