In this episode Natasha introduces Jesse and we discover why he is the perfect host for the Data Dream Team series. Jesse will be pulling on his wide range of experience, practical case studies, and network, to bring together a series that will enable everyone to build a data dream team.
Welcome to the Soda Podcast. Greetings everyone. I'm Natasha. I'm from Soda Data, an idea born in Belgium that helps organizations get ahead of silent data issues and brings everyone close to the data for data, products and analytics that everyone can trust. Welcome to our Data Dream Team series. We're bringing forward different voices and perspectives to help find a common ground to solve the problems that many are facing when it comes to good data. And to do that, we have found just the perfect host, Jesse Anderson.
Jesse, welcome to the Soda Podcast. It's my esteemed pleasure on behalf of the Soda team to welcome you to your seat as a host of our series, the Data Dream Team.
Well, thank you so much, Natasha. I'm really excited to do this and I'm really excited to share this with the community
Listeners. We're embarking on this series to explore how to build today's data team. And there's no better person to lead us through this than Jesse because we believe that there's a new approach needed to align how an organization is structured and operates around data. The lineup of guests is fantastic, Jesse. I've said it before, I'll set it again. I'm jealous of where you are sat right now. I'm excited for everyone to listen, learn, and like. Jesse will be talking to some amazing people who are going to share what has helped shape their data teams, their data careers, and a little bit of life in general.
So, Jesse, please introduce yourself and tell us what should we know about you and what makes you a great reason to host this data Dream Team series.
I think it all starts with the sheer amount of time I've spent on the subject. I went back and kind of remembered, and it's been eight years since I've been researching them in the subject really going heads down into it. And I haven't just used that information in that research for myself. I've written three books on the subject. My latest book is called Data Teams. And in that you'll find a lot of the information that I share I try to share openly and honestly with that. This is part of my work, not just writing the book data teams and data engineering teams before that, but also with US podcasts, sharing that information with the community so that we can all get better.
Yes, I can attest that it's definitely become part of your work, but also your passion and that's why we partnered with you. So how would you summarize your book? Give us the synopsis and key takeaways of how you think teams should be organized to get the most value from data.
I think the key part of my book is the subtitle, which is - A unified model for management of data teams - and this is really what it's about. It's saying we don't just need data scientists and we don't just need data engineers and we don't just need operations. We need all three of them and we need all three of them working together closely and with good results.
I love that. So what does good look like in a team?
Good looks like having the right relationships between the teams. They're non adversarial. These are teams that are working together in a symbiotic relationship and put a different way, if you're not familiar with symbiotic relationships, it's non-adversarial. It's not one, one upping the other. It's actually both teams or all three teams working together towards a common goal. By being symbiotic, they're able to do that all the more and produce all the more value
Teamwork makes the dream work. They say Jesse. So talk about where you've seen or give us some examples where you've seen organizations struggle. Some of those data team mistakes 1 0 1.
Perhaps the two most common ones I see are only having data scientists. So what will happen is the management team will get the message loud and clear that they need data scientists. And so they'll just get data scientists not understanding there's more parts of the team. Another common issue is choosing your data engineers. Sometimes they'll have data engineers who are more sequel focused, DBAs, database administrators sort of skills. And that isn't the skill set that you need for data engineers in this case.
And those are two roles, interestingly enough, that get a lot of attention, right? Data scientists, data engineers, some hype, but also roles that are in high demand. Do you have a a favorite role on a data team?
It's really hard to choose a favorite role. It's kind of saying, which is your favorite child? You need all three of them and all three of them do something. There's a talk that I gave that I'm really proud of and I kind of help people understand: If you take one out, this is what happens. You take the data scientist out, you don't get that advanced analytics, you take the data engineers out, you have no technical prowess, you have no technical expertise, you take operations out and you don't have that operational excellence. So nobody can really depend on the models or the infrastructure that you're running.
I love it. One of the resources that you've written as part of the Dream Team series is around, you know, the roles that you need and in that you likened it to football, that was the analogy, but I know you've got a rather cute one around the banana split. You wanna share that with the listeners?
Sure. So for the people who aren't familiar with football or soccer as you call it in the US, if you imagine a banana split, there's different parts to it. Everybody wants that cherry on top, the whipped cream. And that's kind of what the data scientists are. They're that the really sweet part, they're the looks good and everybody's going for it, but nobody's going for the bananas. The bananas are often not eaten. And that's oftentimes what that data engineering team is. It's the not super exciting part that's actually necessary to make all this work together or be somewhat healthy in the case of a banana split. And then you're thinking of your spoon, well, how are you going to eat this without a spoon? That's your operations team. That operations team is there to keep everything moving from your banana split to your mouth in a good way.
I love that. Let's see how many more analogies we can come up with throughout the series. Okay, so I've already teased everyone, letting them know we've got some great guests. Throughout the Dream Team series. We're going to be tackling a number of different topics on data teams. You are talking to some amazing people, data glitterati, I call them. So what are the topics or some of the topics and who can we look forward to hearing you in conversation with? Just give us a taster.
There are all sorts of people that I'm excited to be talking to. Both friends of mine, new friends and sharing. They're very open and honest and they're sharing. So a few ones that I'm excited about. We have Paco, Nathan, anytime you can listen to Paco, Nathan speak on virtually anything, take that time, do that. We also have people like Jordan Morrow, that's going to be a super interesting one. He brings a lot of energy and I would love to see that energy be brought in the industry in general. We also have Harvinder Atwal, we have other people and that isn't the cumulative list, but we have a lot of people and a lot of different perspectives and I'm really excited to share those perspectives.
Fantastic. And I think that's some of the learnings that we're taking from your book and your research, right, Jesse? Bringing those voices so that other people can take the best practices and tips and tricks that you often don't get insight to. So for each guest, you'll be doing a quick fire round so that our listeners can get to know them because our guests are selected not just for their achievements in data, but their career and any personal endeavors that they wanna share. So Jesse, here's your quickfire round.
What's the theme tune of your data team?
Well, I'm gonna have to take Jordan Morrow's theme of the Godfather, and that's kind of what plays in my head. The data engineers, the management - we're all trying to get people to dance like puppets and do our bidding and make them offers. They can't refuse
Or give them data, they can't refuse. Your favorite example of data doing good?
I'd have to say what we experienced lately with Covid. I think the data tracking around covid really helped the entire world kind of keep their heads straight and we were able to see quickly this is black death. This wasn't 30% mortality rates, this wasn't 40% mortality rates. We were able to see pretty quickly, hey, we're not going to die as a species and we can get through this. And I think that was really important in this, that it was good for us as an entire world that we saw this data and saw that we could live through it.
Yes, and I think it's such a great example of using data in our day-to-day lives without realizing and realizing how powerful it is. So if you could do anything with data, what would it be?
I think it would be starting to look at the genomic data. If we could take a lot more of our genomic data against different populations, knowing deeply their health problems, we would be able to see some really good trends. We could see some things that, hey, maybe certain cancers are genetic based. How can we deal with that? How can we actually preemptively let people know, Hey, you're at higher risk for this cancer. You may want to do this and this differently. And I think that would be super helpful for us as an entire species in a very similar way.
Yeah, I agree. What are you passionate about, Jesse? That's nothing to do with data. If there is something in your life that doesn't involve data.
I love to travel. I knew I had not traveled enough when I had to travel vicariously by watching YouTube videos of people traveling where I was watching stuff virtually every weekend of here's this place, here's this place. And thinking, okay, jotted down, gonna go there. And I, so I love traveling. A lot of times people invite me to speak at a conference and if that is in some place that I wanna go, I'll generally do that conference. And I really enjoy that. I really enjoy meeting people. I really enjoy eating their food and, and really seeing how people live around the world.
I think you told me an anecdote the other day about how almost every chapter of your book was written in a different location. So that definitely confirms your love of travel.
Yes, it was. Many chapters were written on transatlantic flights and as I look over at chapter, I'm thinking, oh, that was somewhere between Germany and San Francisco. And that was how I wrote.
So what is your favorite chapter or takeaway in your book?
I'd say I'm the most proud of the debugging chapter where it's something I've never seen in, in any management book or, or really technical book like that of here are the most common problems I've seen. And this isn't, here's some hypothetical here. I've read something, I've been doing this, I haven't just been some kind of researcher, I've been out there doing this for the past eight years. And I wrote down the things that I saw, like most common things. And I said, if you're seeing this, these are the most common reasons I've seen for that. And you can fix them. You can know what they are. And more often than not, the issue is a team issue.
Great. Sort of a debugging troubleshooting chapter. Thanks Jesse. I'm so excited. I hope you are too.
Oh, I sure am. I'm rarity and rare in to go, as we'd say in Montana.
This has been great. So that's your dream team host listeners, Jesse Anderson. Jesse's book is linked on dreamteam.soda.io, along with resources for building today's data dream team. I encourage anyone looking to get some practical advice, different perspectives and depth to get it and read it. In fact, I believe we have a few copies to give away. So watch out for that. So listeners, what's next? Every Thursday there'll be a new episode available. You'll find all of the podcasts that are available listed on dreamteam.soda.io, and on your favorite podcast platform. Tap follow, please. Just add Soda and that way you won't miss out. You'll be the first to know about new shows from Soda as soon as they drop. We're so excited. So follow us and listen for free. Let's get ready to build Data.
Dream Teams, we'll meet you back here soon at Soda Podcast.