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X-Factor: The Power of Adapting + Innovating

Universal Blogs

Editor's Note: The X-Factor is a blog series featuring data enthusiasts and their everyday challenges and solutions.

This special edition blog features Jon Feldkamp, Contract Data Analyst, Polaris, and ADAPT Program participant, and Pat Hottovy, Sr. BI Analyst, Janus Henderson Investors, and Alteryx Innovator.

At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, data analyst Jon Feldkamp experienced what many of us fear most — job loss. Having been an Alteryx user in his previous role, Jon turned to the ADAPT (Advancing Data and Analytic Potential Together) Program to take advantage of a free 90-day license and learn more about the tools he wasn’t as familiar with, like predictive analytics.

“In my prior role as a data analyst I was responsible for ensuring that data quality and visuals were good. One of my goals with the ADAPT Program was to start using Alteryx for more than just data cleanup. I was excited to learn more about time-series analysis, machine learning, and predictive tools that I hadn’t been exposed to at that particular point,” says Jon.

As an ADAPT Program member, Jon also has access to a passionate community of analytics and data science experts, and in his case specifically, Pat Hottovy, a member of the Alteryx Innovator Program.

“Becoming an Innovator (and mentor through the program) was a natural fit. In my current role, I use data to help everyone throughout my organization be better at what they do. While I teach those in my company, I’m also soaking it in,” says Pat.

By connecting the two, Jon had someone to bounce ideas off of, and for Pat to be a fellow data enthusiast proved valuable and brought a unique industry, market, and regional perspective.

Data (and Toddler) Wranglers

Even outside of their endless curiosity for all things analytics, both Jon and Pat were surprised at how much they had in common — from backgrounds in banking that have since pivoted them into data analysis roles, to keeping up with rambunctious toddlers.

“It was like someone stalked us to set us up for this mentorship,” Pat says with a chuckle. We were introduced and immediately clicked.”

Off the record, that is exactly what happened.

“We have a similar mindset when it comes to learning new tools and both of us pick them up pretty quick. Jon was far more advanced in Alteryx than I expected when I signed up for this program (we both have our Alteryx advanced certifications) and he has been able to show me several things that I didn’t know how to do in Alteryx. This is part of the reason we’re using several other tools in addition to Alteryx on his project,” says Pat.

Problem, Solved

Throughout the Fall, like clockwork, you could find Jon and Pat logging on to pour over detailed workflows every Thursday over lunch.

“It was so helpful that Jon had a project in mind to show a tangible use case for something he cares about, and it really has been a lot of fun,” says Pat.

The project involved building a workflow to conduct stock and equity price analyses. To do this, Jon pulled data from Yahoo! Finance and the Federal Reserve and cross-referenced data points in the foreign market in relation to equity prices.

“At each meeting, we would discuss strategy, and I would take the notes from our prior meeting and move forward on cleaning up things in the workflow, moving towards the next steps for analysis, and using different tools to solve problems. Then, during the week I would make those steps and determine where to go next. It really was most beneficial to have a sounding board,” says Jon. While I came in with a project and idea to research, as we moved forward, I pivoted from my original thoughts.”

Jon found that going through the motions of annotating steps in the workflow was really helpful and he was able to get the project in a good place to share with a potential future employer. Pat helped Jon prep along the way with some simulated interview questions, and when it came time to interview, Jon was able to envision himself in the new role.

Spoiler alert: He landed the job! Congratulations, Jon.

Fundamentally though, for Jon, it was about the problem to solve, not just landing a new job. “I love solving, it’s what got me here today.”

Final Reflections

“Our experience is reflective of these programs (ADAPT and Innovator) and the Alteryx Community as a whole. They’re a supportive environment for ideas and solutions, and you get out what you put in,” says Pat.

Does Jon have plans to “pay it forward” and possibly become an Innovator himself?

“There’s a stat out there that goes something like this: you retain 90% of what you learn when you teach someone else, and I believe this to be true. When you can explain and help someone else learn new skills, you improve and better your own,” says Jon.

We’ll take that as a yes!

Written By
mellym_1
Mel Erbes
INPUT Editor
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