What's your job about?
I work at The Information Lab as one of the core team consultants. Our mission is to help people make sense of their data allowing companies and analysts to make better and faster decisions. As a consultant and trainer in both Tableau and Alteryx we train and help analysts to use both tools to analyse and visualise data in a more efficient way, trying to make them move back from just
PowerPoint creators to what the role of an analyst and a data person should really be: analyse, discover, ask questions and find meaningful answers to business problems to make better decisions.
My daily job is quite varied, as it can be from running training classes to teach people any of those tools to a more “traditional” consultancy job - going to the client’s office and working with them to build dashboards and workflows that help them in their businesses. A quick resume of all this process will be like this: A company has some data but is not really using it in a meaningful way, or even not using it at all. We talk with them, understand what they want to do and the most important thing, the business questions and problems they want to answer or solve. Then we use Alteryx to get the data, prepare it, clean it and organise in the best way possible. And then analyse it and visualise it in Tableau so people can answer those questions in the easiest way possible following (or trying to follow at least) data visualisation best practices.
What's your background?
I grew up in Madrid where I lived during my first 31 years. Always wanted to study computer science but after 2 years I realised it wasn’t really what I wanted or maybe it was just the university that was very bad engaging students, but I decided to quit and so something else. Then is when I realised I always liked social science, so I started studying sociology and start working while I was studying in a Market Research company.
After nine years working on Market Research in two different companies, I was starting to feel less motivated by an industry that wasn’t changing at all, while data and analysis was changing drastically. It’s then when I discovered Tableau and totally fall in love with it. I start using it a bit in my free time trying to learn it, and then I discover The Information Lab, and a blogpost about a “Data School” they were opening. Initially I was just trying to find some kind of online course that allowed me to improve my Tableau skills, but then I applied to be part of the fist cohort of the Data School just for fun, as I always thought they will not pick a 31-year-old Spanish guy… but they did!
So then I move to London, start as part of the 1st cohort of DS and then continue working with the company as a consultant. Best career decision I’ve made in my life.
Could someone with a different background do your job?
Definitely yes. The most important thing about what we do is to be curious and have an analytical mind. The technical skills can be learned. Of course, probably someone with a more technical background can find it easier at the beginning, but some of the best professionals and analysts I know come from very different backgrounds: from maths to history or philosophy.
What's the coolest thing about your job?
For me the best two things about my job are: First when you are showing a customer a dashboard or analysis you have done in just a few days, probably without a deep understanding of their business or industry and something catch their attention and they say: “is that correct? Can we check the data?” and when they see it is correct then they say “oh, we didn’t know that!” or “we weren’t aware that was happening!”. The second one is when you are teaching someone Tableau or Alteryx and you told them how to do something that nowadays is taking them hours or days of work. Their face looking at you saying: “you have save me hours of work!” is great. Both things are for me the best proof of how these tools can help people and companies in a tangible and differential way.
What are the limitations of your job?
As in any consultant role, you have to learn to deal with customers, deadlines and sometimes high expectations. I must say I’ve been very lucky with all my clients so far and working weekends and extra hours doesn’t happen often, at least much less than when I was in Market Research, but still can happen every now and then. I also work sometimes on weekends but in personal projects and learning and improving skills. If you don’t like to keep learning always and spending some time on it, probably this is not for you.
As a consultant, you must learn also about commitment and compromise, so if you agree to do something in a certain time, it’s better to be honest and tell them is not doable or have a good reason for a delay if it happens. If not, at the end is your reputation as a professional that is at stage.
Managing expectations, being flexible and passion for helping others are key skills to learn and develop. And definitely you have to learn not to get frustrated when something fails the first, second or third time.
3 pieces of advice for yourself when you were a student...