Alumnus uses IST skills to drive content analytics at Audible

Delaney Peterman
January 27, 2020

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — When Steve Cassey began his journey at Penn State’s then-new School of Information Sciences and Technology nearly 20 years ago, he was told that there would be an abundance of relevant jobs available in the tech field within 15 years. Now, as the director of content analytics at Audible Inc., he realized those predictions were true.

“The things that gave me a leg up with my IST degree were the project management experience and focus on group work,” said Cassey, who graduated in 2004. “A lot of people who were in more tech-focused majors did not get that.”

Cassey’s love for technology and strong leadership skills have allowed him to excel in a few well-known companies. In 2006, he started out as a reporting analyst for Comcast in Philadelphia, where he implemented the best practices to improve functionality and quality of data, as well as developed reports translated from business needs. After seven years, Cassey advanced to the role of director of data and reporting for XFinity Home, where he led a five-member team.

After spending his entire life in the Philadelphia area, Cassey decided to move to Seattle to work for Amazon as a senior business intelligence engineer. He spent a year and a half in the Digital and Device Customer Support division and then another two years in WW Prime Analytics. Even on a new coast, he still felt the sense of community that comes along with being a Penn State alumnus.

“Even in Seattle, there were Penn State grads everywhere, so there was always a common ground,” Cassey recalls. “It was super powerful to be on the West Coast and still be able to connect with people from my university.”

But, Cassey ultimately decided that home was on the East Coast and moved back last year after accepting a job with Audible, an Amazon company that sells digital audiobooks, radio and TV programs, and audio versions of magazines and newspapers. In his current role, he and his team create tools and analyze data to help Audible understand the competitive landscape and make decisions on audio content that can help them be successful.

“We provide analytics to help drive strategy for content decisions and create performance scorecards for the executive team,” Cassey said. “Basically, we use data to surface key changes in the business that require action.”

In his career, Cassey has led multiple teams of people and has learned a lot along the way, including that teams are made stronger through diversity. Cassey is always conscious of people’s unique backgrounds and personalities, and he recognizes that that this brings new and interesting ideas to the table. His goal is to discover what his team members’ strengths and interests are so that they can work on projects that they find enjoyable.

“I try to understand what people are passionate about and then give them opportunities to be successful,” he said.

An unexpected beginning

Although Cassey, who earned his degree in Information Sciences and Technology, has spent most of his career in data analytics, his first job was quite different. During his time in the College of IST, Cassey took a class that combined classroom learning with industry experience. Through this class, he worked for Computer Aid, a business technology services firm in Allentown, Pennsylvania. This led to his first full-time job opportunity as a software developer. And though that role required him to learn new skills, he was eager — and ready — to face the challenge based on his experience in IST.

“I did not go to school to be a software developer, but I was able to leverage the skills I learned in IST, like time management and working with other people,” Cassey said.

His job at Computer Aid played a significant part in his future career, as it introduced him to working with database technologies that ultimately provided a foundation for what he is doing now. It also taught him to keep an open mind and maintain a love for learning, which he encourages current IST students to always remember.

“Always be open to learning new things, especially early on, and don’t limit yourself to one area or field. You might not realize you need a certain skill until you are outside of the program,” Cassey advises. “Penn State has a huge network so use that to your advantage.”

Remembering what’s important

Penn State has a lot more meaning to Cassey than just a place where he received an education. It was during college that he met his wife, Heather. Now, they live in North Jersey and are raising their two-year-old son, but they find plenty of time to travel back to campus — and beyond.

Cassey and his wife recently spent six months traveling in Asia, and he returned with a new-found perspective that is steering his future.

“There wasn’t a lot of money in many of the places I visited, but I consistently encountered some of the happiest people I’d ever met," Cassey recalled. “It made me realize that there’s more to success than just chasing the next promotion.  Surrounding yourself with the people you love and prioritizing both work and personal experiences that you’re passionate about is key — and my IST degree helped tremendously with that.”

Last Updated January 27, 2020