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Community Manager
Community Manager

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Earlier this year, we kicked off the Women of Analytics campaign to celebrate and support the achievements of women across the analytics space. And today, we are excited to introduce a new blog spotlight series designed to not only recognize these phenomenal women, but also bring awareness to what still needs to be done to achieve gender equality.

 

To kick the series off, we are honored to shine the spotlight on a very special member of the Alteryx Community.

 

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Nicole Johnson (@NicoleJohnson)

Business Analyst, GLY Construction

 

In her current role, Nicole is known as "The Fixer". A serious problem-solver with a cheerful personality, Nicole is happy to help create or improve tools for any department, from Finance to the Field. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Accounting & Finance from the University of Washington and currently sits on the leadership committee for the Seattle Alteryx User Group.

 

 

 


What motivated you to pursue a career in data analytics?

I am a problem solver, and love a good numbers challenge... Starting my career in accounting, I realized pretty quickly that the best parts of my job were when I had to play "detective" to try to find missing pieces... it was a pretty straight path from there to data analytics!

 

What do you find most rewarding about a career in analytics?

I especially love when I'm able to find an answer using data analytics that in turn helps someone else improve a business process or solve a business problem. I take it as a personal challenge anytime someone says "I don't know how hard it would be to find this information..." I will find a way! And the best part is when I help find a solution and someone comes back later and says that it has given them so much more time/flexibility/information/etc. than they ever had before, or that they were able to uncover insights and opportunities that were previously impossible to identify.

 

What has been your biggest professional challenge thus far? How did you overcome it?

My biggest challenges have been to slow down & double check my work before sending it out the door - sometimes I get so excited that I have found 95% of the solution that I don't take the extra effort to finish the last 5%... and then I have also struggled with convincing people to trust me and my results when it's a process they aren't familiar with. I have had to work hard to explain my methodologies and the tools I'm using, which ends up being a good exercise for me anyway - I've found more than a couple errors in logic when I've taken the time to really sit down and think about how I would explain my process in simple, clear-cut terms to someone else.


Data science and analytics are a great equalizer - no one can tell you you're not strong enough or tall enough or loud enough or old enough. If you can compute it -- and YOU CAN -- you can do it!”


Have you leveraged networking or peer groups to get where you are today?

My involvement in the leadership of the Seattle Alteryx User Group has really opened up some great networking pathways for me – I have struggled in the past to find the right groups that match my skills and interests, so it was refreshing to discover so many great people that I could connect with on both a personal and professional level, especially with my co-leader of the Seattle AUG, Michael Stead (@Mstead).

 

The discovery of the Alteryx Community was the real game-changer for me, though – initially, I explored the Weekly Challenges as a way to improve my spatial analytics skills in order to participate as one of the team members for our Alteryx User Group Grand Prix team (and by “improve” I mean “start at ground zero because I’d never really worked with spatial tools before”…) These challenges opened up a whole new world of learning resources for me! I eventually worked my way through all the Weekly Challenges, and then discovered a new “playground” on the discussion boards, where I could help others in the community by providing solutions to their real-world challenges.

 

Discovering this incredible group of supportive, creative, and immensely talented contributors has probably been the single greatest contributor to my own knowledge base over the past few months, and I now feel I can count quite a few community members as my friends. It felt a bit like I was coming home – a whole community of people who get just as excited about problem-solving as I do! It has been incredibly inspiring to find new ways to stay involved and share knowledge, and in turn, my Alteryx projects at work have definitely benefitted from the infusion of new ideas and tips & tricks!

 

Do you have a mentor? How did you find them? 

I think finding a good mentor is one of the hardest challenges I have faced, particularly being in the very male-oriented construction industry with few coworkers who share the same data analytics skills and interests as me. But I have had some great conversations with a colleague who shares a similar career path to mine, despite being in a completely different department - it’s been incredibly helpful having someone to talk to about the challenges I face at work as a female, a young person, and a department of just one person. Having someone there to tell me "You're not alone" can be so powerful!

 

I am always searching for mentorship, however, and truly believe that it comes in many forms – whether that’s my boss, who has always said that he wants to support and encourage me as a person first and an employee second, or the inspiring connections I made at Inspire, such as the venerable Mark Frisch (@MarqueeCrew)! Having people in your life who want to celebrate your successes and help encourage you down new paths is a priceless gift to find.

 

What advice would you give to young women wanting to pursue a career in analytics/data science?

Your biggest adversary is often yourself. Never believe that you can't do it. You can! Data science and analytics are a great equalizer - no one can tell you you're not strong enough or tall enough or loud enough or old enough. If you can compute it - and you CAN - you can do it!

 

What bold actions have you taken or will you take to help progress the gender agenda?

I want to be bold by helping our organization realize how important strong data analytics skills can be at the executive level, and how valuable it can be to have someone with a different life perspective helping to make business decisions. It's no longer enough just to have good relationships with clients and a strong workforce behind you... you need to make smarter, faster, bolder, more analytical decisions to keep ahead of the competition, and a woman with new ideas and an analytical mind could be just the ticket to help you get there.

 

Who is the most inspiring woman in your life, and why?

My best friend from college, who has continued to work her way up the ranks despite every challenge life has thrown her way (including helping run her husband's business for several years in addition to her 70+ hour per week job, and now coming home to triplet two-year-old girls every night!). And she never complains - every challenge, every roadblock, every terrible day is met with the same, unwavering attitude... "Oh yeah? What else can you throw at me, world? Bring it on." THAT is the type of attitude we need more of to help progress the gender agenda. Whether a woman thinks she's owed something or not, it doesn't matter... PROVE IT. Make your case so indisputable that no one would even think to argue with you.

 

What are the three rules you live by?

  1. Teach, don't just tell.
  2. Curiosity is often your strongest asset.
  3. If your answer is “Because we’ve always done it that way,” you are probably doing it wrong. Question everything!

A big thank you to Nicole for taking the time to answer our questions – make sure you say hi to her on the Community!

 

Do you have a story to tell?

Fill out our Women of Analytics Survey for the opportunity to share your experience, tips and advice with the Alteryx Community! We’d love to feature your story in an upcoming Women of Analytics blog spotlight!

 

got thoughts_WoA_extrasmall.pngJoin the discussion today!

Who are the Women of Analytics in your life that inspire you and why?

What actions have you or your company taken to achieve gender equality?

 

Leah Knowles
Community Manager

Leah is the Community Manager at Alteryx, responsible for building and growing engagement programs that enable community members to make the most of the Alteryx product suite. She is passionate about building customer communities to collaborate and solve real world business problems, and believes that connecting with people and building relationships leads to better work. Follow her on twitter @LeahMKnowles

Leah is the Community Manager at Alteryx, responsible for building and growing engagement programs that enable community members to make the most of the Alteryx product suite. She is passionate about building customer communities to collaborate and solve real world business problems, and believes that connecting with people and building relationships leads to better work. Follow her on twitter @LeahMKnowles

Comments
VP Community & Support
VP Community & Support

Thanks, @NicoleJohnson - tremendous insight! We're extremely fortunate to have you play an active role in the community. Thanks for all that you do. I know it is inspiring to others!

Community Content Manager
Community Content Manager

What an insightful post! @NicoleJohnson you have had such a positive impact on our community. Your contributions are thoughtful, helpful, and it has been exciting watching you rank up to become one of our top solution authors. Thank you.

Alteryx Certified Partner
Alteryx Certified Partner

@NicoleJohnson,

 

I had to lookup the definition of "venerable".  It means,"accorded a great deal of respect, especially because of age." It also mentions wisdom and character, but as you said analytics is the great equalizer.  Alteryx has surely increased my wisdom (as perceived by others).  I thank you for your respect, but as this is a two-way street you must know that it is I who respects you more.

 

Your help in the community is timely and spot on.  You take on challenges and help to explain how to approach the challenge as well as how to solve the challenge.  @chris_love describes himself as a "Data Hobbyist" and has tweeted this message:

 

There are two types of people in the world. 1. Those who can extrapolate from incomplete data.

Like Chris, I see you as a Data Hobbyist.  I look forward to celebrating many of your future successes.

 

Cheers,

Mark

Thank you SO so much @LeahK@BrianO@TaraM@MarqueeCrew, and all the many others on the Alteryx community and beyond who have showered me in love this week. You really do make my world go round. I've never felt quite so special doing something that for me, like Mark suggested, feels more like a hobby than a job. Thank you for allowing me to find my niche in this virtual playground of analytics! 

 

Cheers!

NJ

Magnetar
Magnetar

:-) Awesome recognition of everything you do @NicoleJohnson - and the fun you bring to it. 

 

Oh - and given your love of geeky holidays - happy world SysAdmin holiday today (and world yellow-pig day for the 17th).

https://www.engadget.com/2016/01/01/the-complete-guide-to-geek-holidays/