Alter Everything

A podcast about data science and analytics culture.
Alteryx Alumni (Retired)

From leading user groups, becoming an ACE, and naming Alteryx tools in Spanish, Alejandro Ferrandis has done it all. Hosted by User Groups Program Manager Flavia Brancato, Alejandro advocates for inclusive spaces for international language speakers to learn, share, and connect.







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Episode Transcription


Welcome to Alter Everything, a podcast about data science and analytics culture. Picture this, attending an Alteryx user group meetting in a skyscraper in Tokyo. Or how about a rooftop in Paris, or Madrid? Alteryx user groups are flourishing all over the world. And in today's episode, hear from Alejandro Ferrandis, also called Alex. He's an Alteryx ace and Madrid user group leader, and he talks about the importance of the international language communities, why you should consider speaking at an Alteryx user group meeting, and what it was like to help translate the names of some of the Alteryx tools into Spanish. Your host for this episode is my teammate, Flávia Brancato. She's a user groups program manager on the community, is trilingual, speaking Brazilian Portuguese, Spanish, English, and she's worked closely with Alejandro for years, helping to grow the Spanish Alteryx community. Let's get started.


My real complete name to say it that way is Alejandro Salvador. So I could say that I have really, a telenovela name to put it that way. And I have been working with Alteryx analytics, or let's say I fell in love with Alteryx analytics, say in 2019. It was also the same year in which I became an ACE. And since then, I have tried also to spread all the love and all the good things that I can do with the tool, and with this, yeah, powerful tool. And trying also to not only explain all the possibilities, but also demonstrate them in the end, in a way that the companies can take profit from it.


Awesome. Since you mention that you started your journey with Alteryx in 2019, same year that you became an ACE. Actually, it's the same year that you registered to the Alteryx Community. And I was looking to your stats with-- I could just find out really cool numbers that I just want to brought up, and then, if you can talk about how you get to those numbers with your engagement. So you posted, I don't even know if you know that, but you posted 1,883 times in the Community, since you joined in 2019. You have received 891 likes, and you also have the genius badge, which is given to Community members with over 300 accept solutions. So those stood out because, of course, again, you're engaged member, but can you tell us a little bit of this journey within the community to reach those numbers and a lot of other things?


Yeah, sure. Those numbers compared to some of my Alteryx ACE colleagues, are maybe some rookie numbers, because I try always to give the best, and also, we have this kind of competition between each other, which in the end, the final destination of our journey is getting more people engaged with the tool and to see what can be done. When I first started, I would like to address it maybe as a selfish act, because the idea that I got was-- yeah. The weekly challenges are great. And there's a platform to learn is also really good. But what thrilled me the most was the business or use-cases that the people were posting on the forums. So this is where you actually see all everyone thinks, or what comes to their mind or what challenges they're facing. So I started to look at them as weekly challenges, but instead of being weekly, they were hourly and almost every day you had something new to see or to do. This is the way I started my engagement with the community. And once I saw that there was this also ranking for the solutions, I said, “Okay. Let's try to solve as many questions from the people as possible and try to learn as much as possible.” And it started being something that I wanted to do daily and getting more and more involved.


Yeah. And just listening to you, just telling, I can see the passion that you have with the community and of course, with Alteryx. Listening to that and going to your journey, could you name your favorite place in the community as far as for yourself? Because it's also interesting to hear that-- I didn't know that you guys had that competition, like game challenge thing among you guys. Of course, your numbers are great, and you are one of our champions, but has any specific place in the community that you like the most that is your favorite place to be. Either helping other folks in the community or to actually challenge yourself. Specific weekly challenges with your knowledge and all that.


Well, it's always nice to go to the discussions forum to check people, what they're facing, the challenges that they have on a daily basis. But I also like to see the suggestions that people have for new tools or functionalities, because this also helps me see how could improve or maybe how we could create something similar that Alteryx may do, to put it that way. And we creating these tools on our side. So until they are correctly or fully implemented, so that there is a workaround for us to go over with them. But yeah. Those two and also to see the ACE launch, where we share our ideas and our everything, basically. I always say, share everything among us. It's probably my favorite place.


The private lounge too, because that's where you guys share experiences and just network.


Exactly. Yes. The private lounge.


The private lounge. Perfect. And then as an ACE, what do you think that is the best part of being ACE and the most challenge?


Probably that there is always-- they say that there's always a bigger fish than you, but being able to collaborate with them, it's a way to grow and so much and so fast. So it's not the same when you try to explore and read some manuals, and try to get the information, rather than when you do the same experience, when people are facing it and not trying to explore. And things that did not even start imagining. So these are really amazing people to learn from. They are from various sites with different kind of questions, and it's always nice to see the approach that each and every one of them has.


Awesome. And I think that's what community is about. Right? That sharing experiences and what you learn and what you can teach with your knowledge and experience. We see that every day in the community. And one of the things that I was thinking, just like going back to when I actually met you, that I was the community manager for the Spanish community. And I just learned about the Madrid user group. So I was not under the user group program, but I connected with you just to talk about where the Madrid user group is and how you were feeling. I think that's when we connected the first. And I remember that you were going through some challenges with the Madrid user group. So if we talk about the user group now, as a leader, as one of the Madrid user group leaders, can you walk me through that specific time, when you shared with me, that was a little challenge to find speakers or even to run the user group, since it's a volunteer program and you have your full-time job, of course. But if you can share with us those challenges and that moment in time, when the Madrid was a little kind of inactive at that point.


Yeah. So the user group in Madrid was facing really big challenge at the time. We were trying to engage with the users. We were trying to see what we could do to help them and to make it more approachable. And I think that most of the time we need to also see that not all the users are IT guys. There are more really big business users, which have basically no or a little knowledge about programming or anything that has to do with software tools. So we think that we should do this kind of approach on which we have these light tools that for many users, it's common sense. Let's say that when you use Alteryx, but for those, it's something amazing, something that they have never seen, for using on an input tool, a wildcard to address all the files within a specific folder. For them, it's rediscovering the world. They don't see this app as a possibility, but for you, it's yeah, usual Monday. For breakfast, you can just start doing this stuff, but this is probably the biggest challenge to try to be able to accommodate yourself to a level that they feel comfortable, because that's the thing, we don't want to overwhelm them. We want because sometimes we can be, of course, overwhelming. We start speaking about Alteryx and functionalities and we go mad. We were crazy. But yes, trying to find this engagement with them. I think this is probably the most complicated stuff. Also, the Madrid user group faced a big freeze time during the COVID. This was our biggest, let's say, problem at the time. And I also, let's say recently, had a new job. That job as a parent, which also takes a lot of time. So between the two jobs and also the user group, there is almost no time, let's say, to think or to rest.


Hold on, and you had a baby in this whole thing too.


Yeah. Yeah. When I said that, apparently, I mean--


Yeah. So user group, job, changing jobs, babies, all that. Definitely it's--


Becoming a parent was a really big job. Yeah.


Exactly. It's already a big job right there, right?


It is a big job.


That's another reason why we appreciate you as part of our programs and being so involved and engaged with our users, helping them. This is one of the biggest challenge for you as a user ACE, user group leader, and for us, the community managers and program managers. But talking about the user group, the Madrid user group, so we are talking about the Spanish speakers, that's what we provide that space through the user group meetings in language, which is virtual also. We are not just talking about Madrid. Right? Spain. We can open up for any Spanish speakers to actually attend a virtual user group, if we are doing. But when that's not the case, we do have the international communities. That's also one of the points that we touch when I first connected with you, was how can we leverage? How can we make the awareness for the users to know about our international communities? Because we pretty much-- I started in September and the international communities were launched in April. So it was pretty new too, and I was looking for your feedback as a Spanish speaker, user group leader, and very engaged user in the English community, how to bring them, and how to show the value of the international communities. How you could share or tell us what you think is the most important thing. So we can even leverage even more the international communities and specifically the Spanish in this case.


I think as long as the market grows on Latin region as well as in the Spanish region, we will see more and more users trying to ask the questions and see the value on the Spanish forum, because right now, I think that it's, like you said, everybody started already on the international community or speaking only English and trying to solve all the questions in English. And I think that's a really valid and common approach because let's say, the size of the people involved compared to only restricting it to Spanish. It's amazing. It's really big. So we try to make it open and we try to teach them that there is also a Spanish community, where there are also not only me, but there are other ACES like AJ, who also speak Spanish, trying to solve the issues. And usually, the time response is between-- I would say in the day, we respond and even sometimes within the hour. So we really try to do it also really fast, but we need the help from the users. We need them to ask the questions to engage them, and to see that there is also value on the Spanish community. That there is also all these blogs that we are trying to be written and posted and all the help tools, how they are describing all the tools also in Spanish and the functionalities each of them has. So there is no restriction as far as I see on that, but yeah. If people are really facing some hardships with their Alteryx, or they think that they don't have giving all or [foreign].


[foreign]. It makes sense when you hear from native speaker for international communities. We are very proud to have the community dedicated for five languages. So all that too, for us, we just want to make sure that what we are doing, and the way that we are utilizing our users in those languages, we are providing the space and the resources in-language to not only a translation or something that we find in the English community in the international.


I mean, the ability to have so many international communities and to spread them maybe and have even more in the future. It's something that helps not only the users, but also to spread Alteryx, I think, within the different countries. Restricting ourselves to only English might be a problem for many people, and maybe they want also to be sure that they are properly understand, that there is no confusion on what it's really being asked, because sometimes these kind of questions, they tend to be really tricky or really technical, and you want to be sure that in the end what you are getting and what the information that you want to get is what is being answered and not something different. So having this community is where people can feel comfortable in their own language and be able to, in the end, get their response without being insecure. It's really great. It's really important.


That's great. And I think especially too, for the experience itself, being able to express themselves in their language is different too. Sometimes you cannot express your question in English, as you can do in your native language. So I think that helps as well.


Yeah. I think one of my favorite sentences is, "Do you know how smart I am in my own language?"


I love that. And that's totally true. 100% true. I love that.


I think the most fun debate that there was on the Spanish community was when we were doing the translation of the tools to Spanish. So the join and the union tool.


Oh, that's right. You were--


How to name them, how to address them. There was no real agreement between all of those.


And that's actually a really great example because I was part of the process too for translating and editing and proofreading and getting your feedback. Not only you, but other users and partners and ACEs, and we couldn't get in an agreement, because we would not make sense in Spanish, or we'd be too close, and then we decided just to go with the most kind of common, I think, word, because remember like the join-- it was what, join in?


And union.


Union. So they pretty much have the same meaning, and we couldn't find. I remember that. And it's great that you brought that up because that's another-- I think that's the best example to see how hard it is to localize something, and to show the value that we have something in-language that we can use within the communities.


Yeah. I think also that one of our best approaches for the Spanish community, has been trying to reach out to different people from different markets with different use-cases. But if there is anybody listening to us that would like to speak on the Spanish user group, even if it's in English, we would prefer it if it's totally in Spanish. But yeah. I would ask them to please to reach out to you, Flávia and to let us know, because it would be really great to hear the use-case.


That's a good call out, actually, yes. We are always looking for speakers. But just shifting a little bit, since we are talking about the whole thing about the community, about the language, but in your journey, in your career, I'm just curious to hear a little bit more how you use Alteryx. You mentioned that you changed jobs too, but it's always in the banks, that industry. How you use Alteryx? What Alteryx is for you in your career journey?


Yeah. Within my career, I have been always, as long as it has been something to do with analytics involved in finance, it has been my main point. And I think that the most value that we see in finance was the ability to automatize all the processes that the business users were trying to solve. And in each and every part of their departments. So we were trying to address the automatization in accounting, for example, management accounting. And also, not only to create these automatizations, but also be able to reproduce the same results each and every time. So this kind of reproducibility, this kind of love that we had, with automatization, these are always the things that the business user loved, and helped them in the end, get that better results, or easier. I think that a great example has been always one that I have been working on many times. And it's how we were able to reduce the time that some processes take, reducing them from weeks and months for some users to just a couple hours and be able to get those results so fast. This is something that helped a lot to the business.


That's the [inaudible] of Alteryx. Right?


Yeah. That's the [inaudible] of Alteryx.


Awesome. I want to thank you so much again for your time. I'm going to try to say something in Spanish. If it's wrong, just tell me, that I correct it and I say it again. But [foreign].












Thanks for listening. If you're a Spanish, German, Japanese, French, or Portuguese speaker, check out our show notes for links to those in-language Alteryx communities. There will also be links and resources to help you find a user group in your area at Catch you next time.

This episode was produced by Maddie Johannsen (@MaddieJ), and Mike Cusic (@mikecusic). Special thanks to @andyuttley for the theme music track, and @mikecusic for our album artwork.