Snowflake’s amazing community is supported by a talented group of Data Superheroes. We spoke with two of them, Chris Hastie and Maja Ferle, to learn about their journeys—and how the Snowflake community has helped them along the way.
Making the most of data isn’t just about building an amazing platform. Only by designing smart processes, futureproof systems, and rigorous training exercises can businesses truly build the data platforms they need to drive success.
And who better to empower Snowflake users to do these things than other members of the Snowflake community? We spoke with two of our community leaders and Data Superheroes to learn more about the support and resources available for the Snowflake community.
Two Data Superheroes, two different origin stories.
Our first hero had been actively participating in the Snowflake community for some time before they became an official Data Superhero. “When I work with a technology I’m excited about, I’m always looking out for new features,” said Maja Ferle, Senior Consultant at In516ht. “And then I want to get more involved in that community to both ask questions myself, and provide answers back to other people looking to learn. Then one day I came across Kent Graziano’s blog. He was the first Data Superhero, and it made me think ‘that’s a really cool title to have!’”
Our second Data Superhero, InterWorks’ Data Engineer, Chris Hastie, found himself drawn to the role from another direction: “Previously I was a Tableau analytics consultant. But as InterWorks established its new Data Practice team, I really wanted an opportunity to prove my worth to that team.”
Chris began blogging about Snowflake technologies to build his knowledge and visibility as a data platform expert. And soon his efforts paid off. “Eventually I discovered the Data Superhero program with Snowflake and realized a lot of it was about community outreach and support activities that I was already doing.”
With great power comes great opportunities
Ferle and Hastie have both contributed to the Snowflake community by participating in community forums and blogging about their experiences to help other users make the most of Snowflake’s Data Cloud. And the community, and their role within it, has also helped them back.
“The Superhero title is certainly useful, and I’ve appreciated being able to demonstrate the skills and knowledge I have of the Snowflake platform,” said Hastie. “But also, the things you need to achieve to get the Superhero title really help you build your skills and create a catalog of publicly-available evidence of your expertise.”
“It’s been a great way to build my own reputation,” Hastie continued. “My LinkedIn goes off regularly now with new opportunities coming in, which is always nice!”
Ferle also appreciates the visibility the title offers both her and In516ht: “As a consulting company we’re always looking for new clients and to show we’re an experienced and knowledgeable partner. We need to be recognized as leaders in this space, and having the Data Superhero title helps with that.”
Hastie has also found the Superhero mantle has a positive impact on his work with clients. “When they find out I’m a Data Superhero, their attitude changes. We often work alongside other consultants on projects, and clients want to know why we’re sometimes more expensive. Being a Superhero means I have proof of our dedicated Snowflake expertise. And because of all the blogging I’ve done, I can refer back to things I’ve already written when putting together documentation for clients rather than making a bespoke set of instructions each time.”
How can budding Data Superheroes best support the Snowflake Community?
Every Data Superhero walks a different path, but there are common obstacles along the way. Hastie and Ferle had plenty of advice to offer to other members of the community looking to overcome these challenges and become Data Superheroes.
“It’s really important you take the opportunity to keep up to date with new Snowflake features,” said Ferle. “But remember that there’s only so much you can learn from written materials. Sometimes you just have to try things out for yourself to learn how they function.” Ferle was also quick to point out the importance of being visible in the community by publishing blogs and engaging in discussions on Stack Overflow or Slack.
But when it comes to blogging, the question for many is ‘what should you write about?’ For Ferle, the key is to draw ideas from challenges you encounter and questions you have day-to-day. Hastie has a different approach for those who can’t find inspiration: “The main thing is to just pick something to start blogging about. Whatever it is, you’ll learn a lot by doing the research for an initial blog. Then once you’ve learned more, you’ll have a better idea of the kinds of topics you want to write about in future.”
And for those that want to drive a strong data culture through their organizations without donning the mantle of a Data Superhero, Hastie and Ferle both highlight the importance of continuous improvement, albeit from different directions.
“Every project you work on will generate valuable learnings,” explained Ferle. “It’s important you make sure you share those lessons, whether that’s through blog posts or other content on your intranet.”
Similarly, Hastie suggests a structured course to expand the art of the possible: “They’re tough exams, but sitting certifications like SnowPro Core is amazing for putting you through a process to learn all the material and get familiar with what’s possible in Snowflake’s Data Platform.”
Empowering, and empowered by, amazing community resources
While the path to becoming a Data Superhero can be challenging, Snowflake has an amazing community and lots of useful resources to help people along the way.
“Snowflake offers a lot of great technical documentation, but it’s useful that there’s so much material out there from the Snowflake community around personal case studies and how other people are implementing specific features,” said Ferle. “I also really appreciate Snowflake’s active community on Stack Overflow. It makes it so easy to get answers to specific questions.”
“Beyond Stack Overflow, I also find the Slack community is great, especially for more general Snowflake platform questions and discussion,” Hastie added. Hastie also mentioned the importance of other tools like Snowflake’s Ideas platform: a forum board where people can submit feedback and new feature requests, and track progress if the Snowflake team takes the suggestion forward.
“The events and conferences have been a really great resource for me,” he continued. “We’ve obviously not had many physical events during Covid, but the virtual events have been fantastic.”
“The virtual events have been a brilliant addition,” Ferle agreed. “Particularly for Snowflake community members like myself that are based in smaller countries that don’t often get their own in-person events.”
Both Hastie and Ferle have had different journeys and experiences as Snowflake Data Superheroes. However, they have many things in common, including access to amazing community resources, the power to shape the future of the Snowflake Data Platform, and recognition from their peers within their businesses—along with the wider data community.
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