Live Event: Unlocking Careers in Tech and Data
08 November 2023
In a special live event, we reconnect with previous guests: data scientist Ben Reeves, RPA leader Matthew Sentes and business analyst Adile Abbadi Macintosh.
Join us for an informative conversation about careers at the intersection of tech and data as these experts delve deeper into their fields, highlighting the dynamic nature of their roles and the importance of adaptability and lifelong learning. Relive their journeys, gather fresh perspectives and listen to an engaging Q&A session that will give you new insight into which tech careers might be the best for you.
- Executive Producer and Host: Lora Bucsis
- Co-Host: Zachary Novak
- Producer and Creative Director: Terran Anthony Allen
- Technical Producer: Jenna Smith
- Senior Marketing Strategist: James Boon
- Podcast Consultant: Roger Kingkade
- Voice Over: Beesley
The Province of Alberta is working in partnership with the Government of Canada to provide employment support programs and services.
Lora has always been a champion for forging one’s own path. A non-traditional, lifelong learner herself, Lora leads the team at SAIT responsible for educational products and learner success in Continuing Education and Professional Studies. Wildly curious about how jobs change over time, Lora believes that learning for 21st-century careers needs to come in several different forms from a number of different avenues. When she’s not binge-listening to podcasts or driving her teenagers around, you’ll find her hiking in Alberta’s backcountry — or falling off her bike.
Zachary is the Founder of Careers in Technology and Innovation (CITI), an online community that supports experienced professionals find and grow careers in technology. Through Careers in Technology and Innovation, Zachary has hosted over 150 events and has helped over 120 people land roles in tech.
Zachary is a community professional, also providing community consulting work through FML Studios Inc. Zachary was previously the Director of Community at RevvGo, Director of Product at Actionable.co, and spent seven years in investment banking. Zachary holds degrees in engineering, business administration, and is a software development bootcamp graduate.
SAIT Podcast: SAIT Live Event: Unlocking Careers in Tech and Data Episode 10
[00:00:00] ANNCR: The Best Careers You Never Knew Existed Podcast sparked by SAIT and co hosted by CITI, the podcast that helps you navigate jobs, learn about new careers and industries.
[00:00:12] Lora: Well, welcome. Thanks to everyone for coming. So, I wanted to just first do maybe an introduction. So, I'm Lora. I work for SAIT I'm director of product and learner success.
[00:00:24] Lora: Which is really just kind of another word for saying we are the ones who develop and design programs, for continuing education for SAIT. And just many thanks to Brad and Sarah, who did all the organizing for this stuff. And if I could just put in a plug, can you guys take some pictures? Thank you. And, thanks to Terran, who's our podcast producer.
[00:00:43] Lora: He thinks of all the things that we don't. Awesome. So, maybe we'll do some introductions first.
[00:00:53] Zach: Sure. I guess I'll get started. I'm Zach. I'm the founder of Careers in Technology and Innovation. We are a membership community that supports diverse professionals that have purposeful and intentional careers in technology and really excited to be here today to talk to this beloved panel about their careers and how they intersect.
[00:01:11] Ben: So, my name is Ben Reeves. By day, I run the data science and software engineering arm of a boutique quantitative investment management company. By night, I'm the founding director of a professional association for data scientists, data engineers, and advanced analytics professionals within Calgary called the YYC Data Society.
[00:01:31] Ben: So, kind of one foot in the professional sphere, one foot in the community building and nonprofit sphere.
[00:01:37] Matt: And my name is Matthew Sentes. Uh, I'm a senior RPA analyst at ATCO. My background's actually finance and accounting, but I did that transition about six years ago into the technology world and RPA.
[00:01:49] Matt: And I haven't looked back. I've really enjoyed the technology space, and I'm excited to be here. I've also helped Lora develop SAIT boot camps for RPA, help write that curriculum, as well as instructing a little bit here and there when I can. But like I said, really excited to be here and talk to everyone today.
[00:02:06] Adile: My name is Adile, Adile Abbadi Mcintosh. I've had a very interesting career. Recently, everybody keeps saying I was the paleontologist that turned into a business analyst. That's actually very true. I actually am a former paleontologist back, oh god, 27 years ago. So that kind of ages me a bit. And then I've also been a business analyst.
[00:02:23] Adile: A business analyst has been a big part of, what I do. It's, you know, when you're building code and you're building product for people. That's a career that a lot of people are still sort of understanding and trying to figure out. And then in that BA realm, I've been an instructor at Mount Royal, so I've taught the BA program there.
[00:02:39] Adile: I've built curriculum there on the BA program. I've helped start off building curriculum here. That's actually how I became a part of SAIT here. And I was helping Lora and her team with the ITBA program and curriculum development there. And then I recently got poached by SAIT and now I am actually the academic chair for the software development program here at SAIT.
[00:02:58] Adile: And so that's actually what I do now is a big boy job.
[00:03:04] Lora: I want to follow that but maybe we could just start off like a, with a quick description of what is it a business analyst does? What is it an RPA developer does? And then what are the roles and data that you're kind of coming at? From the perspective.
[00:03:17] Matt: So, RPA or robotic process automation, you know, the podcast, we've talked a little bit about RPA developers, as well as RPA analysts.
[00:03:28] Matt: So, you know, I don't want to talk about one specific role. RPA, the realm of RPA and automation is everything from solution, solution architecture to. Coding engineers to design authority to center of excellence. So, there's no real limit on the position in the RPA world. And maybe I'll talk a little bit more about that here today, but an RPA developer and analyst is the primary focus that I'll be talking about.
[00:03:54] Matt: So, developer is more developing the code. You know, you're working with the platforms such as UiPath. Power Automate, which is Microsoft. Maybe you're using Automation Anywhere. I know we have a gentleman here from Blue Prism as well. So, if you're using one of those tools, that's what you would use to develop.
[00:04:10] Matt: You would be considered an RPA developer. And then the analyst portion is probably more similar to, you know, type of BA role where you're working with the business, talking about what they want in their process, you know, talking about ROI and metrics and asking the right questions. And, you know, the SAIT bootcamp, we like to push the bootcamp towards both of those roles.
[00:04:29] Matt: So that's, like I said, that's primarily what RPA kind of boils down to, but it's a lot more than that.
[00:04:35] Zach: Can you quickly, in a minute, we can pass it on, provide a specific example of how RPAs really empower someone to do high value work.
[00:04:42] Matt: Well, I think I gave this one previously on a podcast, but I really like it.
[00:04:47] Matt: You know, we did it for my previous organization. It was an oil and gas company. And all of the... engineering files, the shape line files were stored in a database, the government's database. So, what our organization had to do was go into the government database, download these shape files just to view our maps of where all our pipelines were across Canada, which we had hundreds of thousands of pipelines.
[00:05:11] Matt: So, downloading each one of those files from the government database for an individual to do, we were talking like, you know, almost a year's worth of Same thing over and over again. So the other solution was to pay the government a ton of money to get those files in batches. And we didn't want to do that either.
[00:05:29] Matt: So, solution to that was to get a bot to mine the data. So, we actually got the bot access to that database. The bot can run 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. It was able to download hundreds of thousands of shape files for our organization. It ran a month straight. And it got all of our shape files, so it saved that, you know, poor couple of people that would have had to do that job, a lot of time and effort and not value add type of role, as well as save the organization money, so we were really happy about that type of process.
[00:06:02] Adile: Actually, I love that because I think that actually is a great segue into, into like the realm of BA. Work, right? Because BA work or business analysis. I think it's one of these interesting roles. There's a lot of companies are still sort of trying to figure out what that actually means and what it means for an organization to be a BA and you know, I like to define a BA as this role where you're coming into an organization and it's about understanding the business.
[00:06:27] Adile: Like what aspects, what is the business doing? What are the processes in place? What are the workflows? How are you operating? What problems are you trying to solve? Who's your customer? Who's your supplier? How you're moving? Content and data and all that kind of all those kinds of pieces and RPA kind of fits well in there because the idea behind a BA is in that role, you come in to sort of look for ways to improve and support business operations.
[00:06:50] Adile: So, you know, a lot of times when I've come in from a BA role, you know, typically, as I said, it's like I'm coming in to implement some form of technology. So, I came from BA from the, you know, technical implementation side, like a company has come to me and said, hey, I've got a problem. I need help. I know there's some sort of data that's being lost or some process that's messed up.
[00:07:06] Adile: So, it's about understanding that workflow, understanding processes, what are they actually doing as an organizational level, mapping that out. And then how can I apply software to then solve and make it more efficient and cut out steps and do things like you said, like, you know, instead of having a person manually coming in and downloading files, can we automate those processes?
[00:07:24] Adile: And can we find ways to look for areas of improvement? So, BA realm is because what I found in my career and actually even in terms of like from teaching perspective is that. A lot of the BAs I've met or people who want to become BAs have come from other roles, right? So, it's always been a great pivot.
[00:07:38] Adile: And it's always been this conversation where individuals come and say, like, I didn't realize I was doing this kind of work. Like I didn't realize what I was. That's actually probably the most common conversation I've had with, with students where I've taught BA, business analysis, that they go, I didn't actually realize what my job was until I actually learned what a BA truly was, right?
[00:07:57] Adile: I kind of did this stuff, but it felt in the realm of like, I was a software, I was a lead principal dev, but I wasn't really doing coding. I was more doing planning and architecture and, looking at how I'm making, you know, system implementation changes and understanding process and things like that.
[00:08:10] Adile: And it actually turned out. No, you're actually in building requirements, right? And, and specifying those requirements and mapping processes. And then they're like, Oh, I'm actually doing BA work. And I actually liked that work better. Like I actually don't want to code, or I don't want to do that. Or project managers, right?
[00:08:22] Adile: You know, typically project managers look at it and say, well, my role is to manage a project. But BAs are like, well, no, I'm actually building the requirements. of that project. How am I going to implement it? Where is it going to go? What is it going to do? Who are we going to actually solve these problems for?
[00:08:36] Adile: So that's one thing I found that's really, really interesting about the, the BA realm and the BA role is that it's this role that, you know, I think even still like a lot of organizations don't even have a formal title for it, but it actually is a legitimate role. Like in, in an organization, a lot of times it gets attached to this project management role or a systems analyst role, or a senior principal dev role or something to that effect.
[00:08:58] Adile: And, and then now companies are more and more recognizing the fact that this role is a, a real role in an organization, which I think is pretty cool.
[00:09:06] Ben: Yeah so, I mean on the data side, you'll notice that there's been some. Themes have been repeated throughout, as we're talking about BA and RPA, data, of course, is that mesh that kind of stands in between all of it and, you know, access to good, clean, high fidelity data is what makes a lot of the RPA possible and is the backbone that helps to ensure that 100% BA professional can actually go through and make good informed decisions.
[00:09:32] Ben: Now to say a career in data that's quite broad, that's like saying I work in business, right? Like there's a lot of specializations that exist within there. So, in that sense, you know, it's a little bit of a hard So I'm going to focus most of my conversation around more on like the data science and data engineering, which we can think of that around the organization, collation, and decision making around data, which is basically like, how do we make better decisions within a business?
[00:10:03] Ben: How do we empower people like Adeel and people like Zach in order to, you know, go through and get access to the information that they need? And how do we build algorithms, intelligent algorithms, talk about like the machine learning, the AI, in order to automate some of the decision making or augment a human that might be making that decision.
[00:10:23] Ben: So, it's kind of, I view it as the mesh that kind of sits between business processes. Not everybody uses that, but people who know how to and people who help to empower businesses using the power of data. Yeah, they do very well. So, there's a lot of opportunities in data engineering, data science.
[00:10:41] Ben: Advanced analytics is kind of one that sits in between the BA role and a pure technical professional role. So yeah, no, there's a several different paths available.
[00:10:49] Matt: Yeah. And you know, I just want to echo what these two gentlemen have mentioned. You know, you wouldn't have a good RPA practice if you didn't have someone that was more of the business analyst type of role, or if you didn't have good data, like Ben said, that's kind of where all our processes start.
[00:11:05] Matt: I can build, you know, the best RPA process possible. But if the data isn't correct, it's not laid out in the correct format, my bot can't access it in the correct way, then it doesn't really matter, my process is not going to produce the output the business wants. And not only that, but I have to understand exactly what the business wants, and that's where the business analyst really comes into play, you know.
[00:11:27] Matt: I find that RPA developer role, it gets to be a lot really quickly. You need someone that can go to the business and talk to them about what their needs and what their wants are. Talk those numbers. So, I think it's a really great thing that we're kind of doing this podcast with us three, because I feel like our roles are very intertwined in our day-to-day life.
[00:11:46] Adile: I a hundred percent agree. Cause I think there's a fundamental principle in business analysis that like in order for you to actually. Solve a business problem. You need to understand what you're doing now. And in order to understand now, it requires a really good, you know, understanding of a baseline.
[00:12:02] Adile: So that baseline is understanding your processes, your workflow, but it's also understanding your data. And without the data, without that underlying data, you cannot make decisions. You cannot make improvement decisions. I don't know what I'm trying to improve, right? You can't set KPIs. You can't say targets.
[00:12:16] Adile: You can't do anything without information, right? And then what's interesting is that the idea behind it is to try to become more efficient as a business, to solve internal challenges, to look for ways to, you know, service your customers better and all that kind of stuff. And from that comes out a lot of times, interestingly enough, automation, right?
[00:12:31] Adile: Because it's like, that's typically one of the easiest things to do is like, how can I take something that takes. 15 steps or 20 steps or involves multiple handoffs and multiple different people. And, and there's opportunities for mistakes. If I can automate that, if I can put a, you know, a robotic process in that place, it helps to speed up that environment.
[00:12:47] Adile: It helps reduce that potential for mistakes. It helps reduce the number of steps and does a lot of interesting stuff. And then from that, you get more data that then ultimately drives, you know, the business even more for further, right?
[00:12:59] Ben: Just to continue to play off of that. I mean, I'm, as you're talking, I'm thinking like, you know, the BA, they're the ones who deal in theory and like, how do we think that the business operates? What do we believe and understand about our business? The data side that's empirically think about the scientific process, right? You've got a theory, and you test it against, you know, you run an experiment, you test it, you gather some data and you check to see whether or not your theory makes sense.
[00:13:20] Ben: So, the data side helps to provide that empirical evidence. And then that feeds as more knowledge back into the system, which can lead to better decision making. However, that takes place, whether that's a business decision or whether that's an automation, right?
[00:13:35] Adile: Yeah, definitely.
[00:13:36] Zach: So there's obviously a lot of collaborations, but can you talk a little bit more about how you actually communicate and work together?
[00:13:44] Adile: You know, I think a lot of times when you're trying to solve a challenge, you know, you have to communicate with your stakeholders and you have to understand what is it that we're trying to solve, right? And I think at that point, that's where you would engage the necessary stakeholders, right? That's that come into place and the SMEs sort of speak, right?
[00:13:58] Adile: So, I mean, if I'm trying to understand. You know, what are we doing from a fulfillment perspective? We're filling Coke cans or something to that effect. You know, I need to be able to speak to the data analysts to understand like, what are we doing from a fulfillment perspective? And how are we fulfilling?
[00:14:12] Adile: And you know, how many are reproducing per day and all that kind of fun stuff. So, I think, I think that's a collaborative effort. And I think it's, it becomes an integral part. Like you have to learn how to communicate, and you have to learn how to facilitate. And I think that's actually something that's really fun.
[00:14:24] Adile: That's one of the funnest things I find in the BA role is this idea of facilitation, like being able to work with your, you know, the individual members of your team and your SME and being able to communicate between each other in terms of, you know, here's what we're trying to solve. What aspects can I actually pull from you?
[00:14:39] Adile: How do you contribute that data? How do you contribute that information? What are some automation steps that we can do? You know, pull on leverage on the expertise of your team in order to kind of come to a conclusion. So that's kind of how I see it.
[00:14:50] Matt: Absolutely, I think, you know, I almost a day doesn't go by where I'm not collaborating with either a BA or a a data engineer.
[00:14:57] Matt: Usually even the BA might be the one that's coming towards my team that has like a project, hey, we want to do this automation. What are the next steps? So, I'm working with them immediately and usually my first call is to someone. Who's, uh, you know, managing the data and the database and how do I get access to this?
[00:15:14] Matt: So, to be honest, every RPA project is heavily involved with these two other areas as well. And like I mentioned previously, you're not gonna find success unless you can learn to communicate with these groups and with these teams and really learn how can we streamline this whole project. So, like I said, the collaboration is very key.
[00:15:34] Ben: I think I’ll maybe provide some hypothetical scenarios, some concrete examples that I think might be within the realm of possibility. I mean, you think if you're trying to sell widgets, right, the classic example, we're selling widgets, right? And you know, the BA is trying to understand, okay, you know, who is buying our widgets?
[00:15:54] Ben: What are the, you know, age range that's buying this widget, right? And they may come and ask, an analyst to access that data and run that query to gain that information, or maybe create a dashboard that showcases, okay, how are widget sales doing per various geographic region, right? The RPA might say, hey, actually, I want access to all of that information because I now want to automate a report that sends it out to the BAs in order to showcase that report on a daily basis, hits their inbox so they can make decisions. And then eventually as that information feeds back through the system, you may ask a data scientist, okay, you've told us who's buying our widgets, but you know, we're launching new and improved widget. Who will buy this new and improved widget?
[00:16:45] Ben: Which demographic or which Adrian should we target? answer a question about data that you don't already have an answer for. And that's where that data science role comes in, where you start to like, try and predict the future a little bit, or you start to make inferences about what will happen based off of what you've seen happen.
[00:17:04] Adile: Yeah, and I think that's kind of what I was going to say there is like, that's a great question. It's like, you know, how many widgets are we selling or who are we selling these widgets to there for me from a BA rule? It's like, well, there's a question about, you know, I'm asking you that question. I'm saying, you know, how many, how many are we selling?
[00:17:17] Adile: But there's a why behind that, right? There's usually a driver behind it. It could be a marketing decision. It could be a. You know, we have an efficiency issue that's happening where we're not selling enough of them, or it's costing us too much to sell, or we're interested in selling demographics, but a certain demographic is expensive, or it's expensive to get it to them.
[00:17:34] Adile: So, there's usually a why behind that question, and then, you know, that getting that data is obviously understanding, you know, what are we getting and what are we actually doing, and then. from that data, then we can make an inference in terms of like, okay, how can we make some improvements? So that's where you come to automation to say, what can we do to make us more efficient to, you know, make the marketing to these individuals potentially better or to reduce how much it costs us to actually, you know, whatever happens to be that we're looking for.
[00:18:00] Adile: And then we come back again to the data to say that those improvements actually. have an improvement in our data or can we show a KPI or can we show a result out of that? So that's what I really love about the BA role is that for me, it's, it's really centered around like the why and what's the driver behind the reason why we're looking at the data and the inference and, and understanding the, the results of those changes and the automation and all that kind of stuff. That's what I find really, really fascinating behind the BA role.
[00:18:26] Zach: Our audience is discovering new careers, the best careers you never knew existed, and you talk about you know what differentiates a really strong professional in your field around understanding the why, the communication skills. But for someone that’s not currently working in that field, that’s studying in it or trying to progress in it what advice would you give them to be able to get that kind of level of knowledge outside the workplace?
[00:18:52] Matt: You know that’s a really good question, RPA is so heavy focused on code and development and so how do you better your business skills. My advice would be not only do you need to learn that technical skill. You certainly need to learn how to do the development and have an understanding of that but more, so you need to maybe build a portfolio or build a demo process, you know, don't think about how I'm going to build this. Think about what, what kind of process do I want to do? Like, what am I trying to achieve? And then go forward and develop a process like that. And you'll quickly realize. that, oh, you know, I actually maybe should have thought about this question about my overall process I was trying to develop, because now it doesn't really make sense.
[00:19:39] Matt: I missed something here. So, I would say my advice, at least in the RPA world, is to not only get technical and use the tools, but build yourself a little portfolio. Think about a little job that you might do day to day on your computer. Try and automate that. Try and ask questions, and especially try and think about How can I break this process?
[00:19:57] Matt: What's different about this process time and time again? And when you start to ask those questions, then you start to realize you need to talk to other individuals or you need to do more research. And that's really going to get your gears going. And I think that's what would make you more of, you know, a better RPA analyst or an RPA developer or anyone in the automation field.
[00:20:17] Adile: For me, it's interesting that like, and I kind of mentioned this already, like the BA world or being a business analyst, a lot of times people I find really interesting. They fall into that role and, and it's something that just kind of naturally happens. It's a, it's a progression because they found that they joined a company as a developer and then suddenly they're doing a lot of requirements gathering and doing, you know, analysis and design and stuff, which then ends up becoming very business analyst focus. And, you know, for me, I, if I'm talking to somebody who's new, cause I've actually had that same question in class, people are like, well, how do I know what to do?
[00:20:48] Adile: How do I approach this situation? How do I know what the best way to sort of assess a process and fix a process or to do requirements? And I think it takes experience. And I think. When I say that, I mean, I think it's an easy answer. It's a kind of a cop out answer, but at the same time, I'm a big proponent of like, try different things, try different roles, move around within organizations, try different companies, especially when you're young in your career, you're starting out, like experiment and try all sorts of different things and take on different challenges and different projects, different industries, all that kind of stuff.
[00:21:17] Adile: I think the more experience you gain, working with different groups of people and different SMEs and different environments and different challenges is going to just build your knowledge base and your ability to take on bigger challenges over time. And then over time, you'll kind of find your niche, you'll find where you kind of fit and I've seen that happen.
[00:21:33] Adile: Like, you know, you work in a project you would never think you would work on, take on that challenge. If somebody is willing to give you that opportunity, take it on. It might not be the best job, but at least it's something you tried, and you learn. And take from your mentors and learn from your mentors and try to find people and ask questions.
[00:21:47] Adile: That's my biggest advice to anybody who's doing this for the first time.
[00:21:51] Ben: Yeah so I mean, I guess to share my perspective here as well, my advice that I would give to somebody who's trying to break into the fields of, you know, data science, data engineering, something like that is actually a little bit different than the advice I would give for somebody who's maybe already.
[00:22:05] Ben: in that field and looking to differentiate because data science is a hot industry right now. Especially in Calgary, there's a lot of growth going on. It's competitive, but the number of roles are continuously growing. There's not a huge workforce that is trained up in these skills right now. So, it's both competitive to get roles, but it's also There's lots of roles getting created and it can be really challenged to break in because nobody wants to hire juniors and it's really, really difficult to break in as a junior.
[00:22:39] Ben: And so, my advice to anybody who does want to be a data engineer or who does want to be a data scientist is just, you know, be curious. Be hungry and move. Build something. It doesn't matter if it sucks. That's fine. And, you know, sucking at something is the first step to being sort of good at something, you know, and...learn from your mistakes, right? Yeah, like get, get out there, find a project, like, like Matt saying, right? Just get out there and actually build something. Try to get something live on the website. Hey, you made a cool visualization. See if you can turn that into a web app, display it live on your blog, or at least you've got a GitHub that shows kind of like...
[00:23:16] Ben: Here's what you've built. And especially at the beginning of your career, whenever, you know, I'm reviewing resumes, right? And I'm looking for something to differentiate and having built something, anything, no matter how sucky it is, you're like, you're not sure where to start. Just do it, pick a technology, be curious about it, see where it takes you and just continue moving. And don't worry about what's best or whether or not it'll ultimately be good for you. And just, it'll be curious and try it.
[00:23:46] Lora: I'm curious about, like you mentioned, you talked a little bit about data and like what data is like in Calgary, right? It is slightly immature, but there's like reticence to hire junior roles.
[00:23:58] Lora: And I'm just curious about like RPA and. business analysts. And I'm also curious about how do you get connected? Like, I know there's some community builders, you know, on this table. Like, how do you get connected to a community of people if you are looking for a job? Because understanding with the state of a role and where it's at is kind of important to kind of your job search, right? So how do folks get connected with that?
[00:24:26] Matt: Good question. Very good question, Lora. An important one, I would say. And, you know, at least in the RPA world, I'd say it's very similar to data science. And I'm sure business analysts, again, there's a theme here, why all three of us are here, but the RPA industry is, it's emerging, especially in Western Canada.
[00:24:43] Matt: You know, to be clear, the technology is in brand new. RPA has been around for decades. It's all over India. It's been around in the US for quite some time. The technology is certainly advancing much quicker than it has with machine learning, with AI, with things like APIs or application programming interfaces.
[00:25:02] Matt: The technology is progressing very quickly and is getting better to the point where industries are starting to really see the benefits of being efficient, of saving their team's time, of getting that higher value add task to someone who doesn't really like their job. So, it's definitely growing. And I would say in Alberta, especially, you know, we're seeing some investment in tech.
[00:25:23] Matt: We're seeing more organizations start to adopt RPA and even more so automation. You know, I talk a lot about RPA, But RPA opens that door to automation. And automation is a lot of different tools, whether it's a Python script. There's a lot of different things involved in that umbrella. So, tech is emerging.
[00:25:41] Matt: RPA jobs, I think, are on the rise. And Alberta is slightly diversifying away from oil and gas, or at least trying to. I think tech is one of those big drivers in the industry. So, what I would also say is we see a lot of firms, you know, RPA can be a remote job. So, you might find. Firms outside of your city, outside of your province, outside of your country.
[00:26:04] Matt: They'll actually be hiring, you know, for someone in Western Canada for an RPA type role. We see a lot of consulting firms out of Toronto and Ontario. RPA is a lot more prevalent over there and we're trying to build the community similar, but even better. Of course, over here in Western Canada, so we're starting to see organizations in Alberta that are looking to hire these RPA individuals and very similar to what Ben said, it's, it's competitive, but there isn't the market.
[00:26:31] Matt: There isn't the individuals there that know how to use these tools successfully. And that's why SAIT's really trying to push, you know, RPA boot camps and they see that there's a lack here. People asking for jobs and there's people who know how to do those jobs. It's not equal. Uh, in terms of building the community, I think there's a lot of great RPA communities out there and more are growing.
[00:26:53] Matt: You know, my first and favorite, I'd have to give a nod to the SAIT community. You know, first off, you guys being here, you know, that's a part of a community and learning technologies, not just RPA. But you meet people, you network, shout out to Jesse Tutt from Alberta Health Services. He does a great kind of conference with Western Digital.
[00:27:13] Matt: It's an RPA conference that I think anyone can really register for. So, if you're interested in that type of thing, I would suggest searching Jesse Tutt up on LinkedIn. I'm doing a conference, the IOT conference, or I'm going to that conference in November. That's innovation and technology. That's a type of conference that, you know, is very vast in terms of talking about all the different technologies in Alberta.
[00:27:35] Matt: You know, you might not have to go to that one, but you can certainly maybe pick someone's brain who goes to a conference like that or meet these individuals, read it, reach out on LinkedIn, you know, introduce yourself. The communities are small, but they're growing and that's what exactly what we're trying to do here.
[00:27:49] Adile: Yeah, I mean, I echo exactly what you had said. I mean, getting involved in conferences and attending events and meeting people, I can't express enough how important your personal network is to building anybody's career. Like, that personal network is probably one of the most fundamentally important things for anybody's career because, like, case in point myself, 25 years, I have not applied for a job in 25 years.
[00:28:11] Adile: Like, probably in 20 years, because the first job I ever applied for, and since that time, every single... opportunity I've ever had has been a result of a relationship. SAIT's probably the last thing I've actually physically had to hand in a resume for because of of an actual requirement. But the job was actually, I was strongly encouraged to apply because of people I knew.
[00:28:30] Adile: And so that's kind of really, you know, that personal network and developing that personal network and understanding and meeting people is really important. But I think coming back to sort of the career aspect and kind of like the hiring component. You kind of have like the both sides that kind of happen.
[00:28:44] Adile: So, you have individuals who maybe they come into SAIT here and, and do the, you know, the ITBA program and learn, but then what they do is they've established some of those important skills that we talked about earlier that then they can leverage to then go into, you know, I like this aspect of the BA role of like understanding requirements and analyzing data.
[00:29:01] Adile: And then from there, it's like this natural sort of like pivot to becoming a data analyst. And then, but. Data analysts and having that knowledge, that BA knowledge is actually super helpful to a data analyst role or to an automation. Automation directly ties to process, right? So, if you start off in a BA role doing process and process mapping and process engineering, it's like this really interesting thing.
[00:29:22] Adile: It's like, I love process. I love understanding processes. I love understanding how I can make processes RPA. And I can do that. And so you now pivoted, right? So I don't like, I think in the BA role it's, it's kind of an interesting PA place to be because it happens on both sides. You could also be an RPA and then see, I went to school and did coding, and I did data science and I did ml. And then from there I'm like, you know, I actually really like understanding the business aspect and then working on projects, you start to work through those business analysis type of things and you realize, I like the data plus business side, and so I wanna work in both of those realms.
[00:29:53] Adile: And so, I think BA is kind of this interesting thing. BA as a role has been around for 20, 30 years. Like, it's not a new role. I mean, there's been concepts that have been developed over those years and developed and enhanced and new ideas. But at the end of the day, the BA is not a new role. What it is, is it's becoming more of a recognized role within an organization.
[00:30:12] Adile: You know, you can go to a small agency and, you know, there will never be a small software shop. There'll never be a BA role. Like I'll probably not, they'll never actually say formally, I need to be a role unless they actually specifically said, I think we need to be a role for some requirement. That's not to say that business analysis doesn't happen in that environment, right?
[00:30:31] Adile: It's part of a project manager's job. It's part of a dev, a senior dev. It becomes as part of their role, right? But I think what's interesting is now more and more companies, particularly large enterprises like ATCO's and the NMAX's and the bigger companies are now recognizing that, yeah, having a dedicated, Business analyst resource is actually a really important aspect of my company.
[00:30:50] Adile: And then from that, even you could have a BA that specializes in just this or a BA that specializes in data or a BA that specializes in process, right? So, there's all those kinds of specializations. So I think BA is kind of this really interesting kind of quasi weird kind of thing that some people recognize as a role and some don’t. And that's what makes that role, I think, really super interesting.
[00:31:08] Guest 1: Oh, what's the best way to learn RPA if you're not affiliated with an organization? So, you don't have access to a Microsoft Power Automate or any flows. Would you buy a Udemy course or like, where can you learn it for like business analytics? I think the Power BI tablet you can use for visualization, but for automation, where do you go?
[00:31:27] Matt: Not all the tools offer free online training, UiPath Academy, uh, Blue Prism as well, their university, those. They're free online. Not only can you, you know, you can get it from YouTube, but sign up for the UiPath Academy or the Blue Prism University and go into those.
[00:31:45] Matt: You can full well get yourself to like a full developer level with free information directly from the RPA platforms. So, I would definitely suggest checking that type of thing out. You can find some more accelerated type of learning on YouTube. Of course, you have to do a bit more digging like that and it's not official.
[00:32:04] Matt: But you can, you can get a free certificate from UiPath Academy saying you've completed their developer course. That being said, something like a SAIT bootcamp or a post secondary bootcamp, it's going to teach you not only the technical side, but also the analyst side, kind of bringing everything together.
[00:32:21] Matt: So, if you have that opportunity and you can do something like that, that is by far your best way to go. But certainly check out the platforms themselves and go directly to their universities and their CAD academies. And it's free and you can learn a lot of that code and build that portfolio that we were talking about, so good question.
[00:32:37] Adile: I was going to add to that. I remember Laura, we were working on, when we were building the ITBA program too, we had this vision of like starting you off in the BA realm. And then from there, you know, we were talking about the future programming that's coming from SAIT is like, you know, this ability to like, now I'm, I've understand the business analytics aspect, I can then you know, leverage that and go into different careers. And I know we even talked about the robotic, you know, RPA and data analytics. Like now I'm a BA, I want to become a BA data. I want to become a BA, RPA. Like we had plans for, for that.
[00:33:15] Guest 2: So, to get into more like the business analyst side of like from the programming. I was wondering like for inspiration wise, I know starting with like some kind of side project is usually a good point of getting more inspiration because it gives you more ideas to think about. Would you recommend looking at like data sets or coming, attending one of these like hackathons or something for inspiration you think would be a good idea?
[00:33:32] Guest 2: Or what would you recommend for like the path to go down the business analyst because it does seem like with how the future is going, we're getting rid of the more tedious processes and we're getting more into the creative aspects of things where we're actually, yeah, we're collaborating with each other, we're keeping more unknowns in our brains so that we can explore creative solutions because I think that's what's happening between the three of you is at the beginning it was one role and now there's three people in there like for that role because it's getting more complicated as we go so I was wondering how you tackle that?
[00:34:04] Adile: I think that idea of like a side hustle like working on a project on the side and taking on a challenge like that is amazing because. I would say a lot of the BA type of work I've done has been from, I remember like I was, I had a full time job and I would take on side projects and so I'd take on those side projects from people I knew and then it required me to understand requirements that are, you know, how do I manage that client?
[00:34:25] Adile: How do I understand their business? How do I understand how they operate? And so, it’s a learning experience and the more experience you have working on those types of projects and taking on those challenges. So, it comes back to what I said at the beginning is take on challenges, try different things, try different roles, and work with lots of different people because you'll learn so much about how and what it takes to make a business tick.
[00:34:45] Adile: It's one thing to learn how to be a coder, like you can be a coder, you said that, right. You can learn how to code, you can learn how to... Use a screwdriver, but understanding like how to work with people, how to facilitate, how to manage expectations and requirements and all that kind of stuff takes experience and it takes it actually working on projects.
[00:35:01] Adile: And I've even seen individuals who've like, you know, they've taken on their own pet projects and they've pretended that they are their own client or they've, you know, used a family member and said, Hey, I'm going to, I want to work on something like, what's a challenge that you've had and how do I help you do that?
[00:35:14] Adile: And. And taking on even side projects within your own company, like, uh, I've seen this happen a lot of times in some organizations where there's like a little pet project in the company and they're like, the most common thing I've, I've worked on in my career has always been companies come to me and say, I completely run my business on a spreadsheet, right?
[00:35:28] Adile: Like literally my whole business runs on a spreadsheet. And so, it's like, how can I take that spreadsheet of data and do something interesting with it, right? So, whether that's like doing some data analysis, putting it into a database, building a UI, building a dashboard, making that interesting, automating processes within that spreadsheet, that's a little project that you're working on in a company that you're working with or somebody you know.
[00:35:48] Adile: Everybody's got that spreadsheet somewhere that they have. And there's always something interesting you can do with that spreadsheet.
[00:35:53] Ben: So just sharing one piece of insight as far as like you mentioned, like hackathons, datathons, um, and just for everyone's benefit, almost every hackathon or datathon I've been to has people who are there who don't know how to code and like that business analyst role.
[00:36:07] Ben: Like a lot of success in a hackathon is also on your ability to communicate and present, understand the problem that you're trying to solve. And so, if you have an interest in getting involved in some of that, there's always space on teams over there to do that. And it's a good way to get involved. So because you mentioned, I would just encourage, it's not necessary to know how to code to go to these types of events.
[00:36:29] Matt: Yeah, that’s a great idea. I would definitely consider that. Like Ben said, you don't need to learn how to do the coding, but if you can figure out, you know, what questions to ask so that the developers know how to code and you be that liaison, your experience and your help with that is vital to how they're going to develop that code.
[00:36:46] Matt: And I think, uh, a bit of what was talked about before is. Start with that big question, you know, what's the question, what's the problem? And then see if how far you can break it down. Like who would I theoretically need to talk to? What would I need to solve this problem or to answer this question? And see how far you can take it.
[00:37:04] Matt: And that's kind of similar to how an organization does it, you know, the executive. Pumps out a question and it go flutters down till it gets to everyone and we all have to equally think about our parts of answering that question.
[00:37:16] Guest 3: Like what would be the sequence that you take? Because you were talking about building your network, building a portfolio or learning a new skill. Taking account that we all have limited time, right? What would be like the sequence that you take nowadays?
[00:37:34] Adile: I will probably be the worst out of this, I would say. I can't give you a sequence. Yeah. I honestly don't believe that there is a sequence to something like that. I think you have to touch on all of those in some way or another.
[00:37:46] Adile: I think if you get bogged bound by a sequence, that's actually, that's probably a limiter in your career. Like if you were to say, oh, I gotta learn a skill before I can develop my network. I think that's actually a mistake. I think you should be learning a skill and developing a network. And I think you should be trying different things and trying opportunities, because if you limit yourself like that, I think that's actually preventative.
[00:38:04] Adile: And so, for example, in that example, I could learn a new skill, build my network, and then, you know, meet an individual who's looking for some help that I could then learn a new skill to support that individual, right? So, things can play off of each other. And I think that's how I would look at it. How I would approach it.
[00:38:19] Ben: Yeah, it's a hard question. It's a good question, but it's hard. I think where I would start would be by surveying the landscape, right? You kind of like start by climbing to like, you know, you think of, you know, making a map of something. You're starting by climbing to like the highest point and looking at to see as much as you can to kind of get a lay of the land.
[00:38:40] Ben: And with that analogy, I think the way to do that in like the professional space is to Go to events and to hear from people that are doing this today, right now, and potentially search for some inspiration in, in some sense, or just to understand what's being done, how they're doing it, knowing that a bunch of the stuff's going to be over your head, you're not going to understand a lot.
[00:39:03] Ben: There might be some things that excite you. There might be some things that get you engaged. And after you've attended a few events and talk to some interesting people, then, you know, you can really Narrow your focus in a given area, and I say that because I'm very biased towards building something, doing something, my career path has taken the trajectory, it's taken from just building things and the simple fact of having built something has kind of like led me from A to B to C to D and so the reason that I'm saying kind of like explore the landscape is to find something that you think is interesting that you could then Thank you.
[00:39:42] Ben: Do and you'd be like, hey, like I saw you give this presentation. I'll give this talk. How could I get some of the, you know, information? How could I do something similar? And then that gives you a foothold to just take a step forward. That's maybe more focused on like the beginnings of things, but I hope that's helpful.
[00:39:59] Matt: I would heavily agree with that. You know, it all depends on how much time you currently have and how interested you are in those areas. I would say your best bet is to start with stuff like this, events, find inspiration, talk to people. Maybe you can find someone that wants to work on a project with you.
[00:40:17] Matt: Well, now your project that you wanted to build for your portfolio, half that work can be with someone else, and you can help, you know, build that together. So, I would say build your network. Come to these events, meet new people, and find inspiration. If you can find more time, then I would say you would want more practical type of experience, which would be using the applications, trying to do some of the university and the academy and doing those courses, watching a YouTube video here or there.
[00:40:43] Matt: And then, you know, your third step, you know, if you can, would be doing like post secondary or getting an actual certification. Because if you get a certification from one of those platforms, you know, that's on your resume. So, if you have that time and you can get that free certification, then you're going to be a lot better off for your, for your interviews.
[00:41:00] Ben: Yeah And I want to just keep on playing off of this because listening to you talk helps me think as well. Back and forth. And so, I get a lot of people that ask me on LinkedIn or at events, like, what do I do? How do I get started? Like talking about like the starting points of like finding something that you're passionate about, or at least interested in.
[00:41:18] Ben: Passion is something that evolves over time. Like it has to be a mild curiosity is enough to get started, but it's so much easier for me to. Give advice to somebody who says, I'm trying to do X, but I'm stuck, right? Great. I can point you in so many different directions. I gave you so much information that you would be overwhelmed.
[00:41:36] Ben: If you tell me I'm trying to do X, but I'm stuck. But if you're like, well, should I do a, B, C, D E F G H I J K blah, blah, blah. It's like, there's so much, you don't know how to respond. You don't know how to guide, you don't know how to give any feedback. And so, I think, you know, having something to ground.
[00:41:53] Ben: yourself identifying something that's interesting that you would like to do or try that you can then, you know, go to somebody within the network and use that to build that relationship and to ask for some guidance makes it a lot easier for other people to work with you, I think.
[00:42:08] Lora: Well, big thanks to our panelists and to Zach and to the team here.
[00:42:16] Lora: And thanks to all of you for coming. It was good discussion and I've learned a lot. Thanks everyone.
[00:42:27] ANNCR: The Best Careers You Never Knew Existed Podcast sparked by SAIT and CITI funded by the government of Alberta. Have a career suggestion or want to appear as a guest? Get in touch, SAIT.ca/careerspodcast. Rate and review this podcast, and you might find your review on a future episode. Please subscribe to the best careers you never knew existed. Wherever fine podcasts are downloaded with Lora Bucsis and Zach Novak produced by Terran Anthony Allen and Jenna Smith, executive produced by Lora Bucsis.
[00:43:03] ANNCR: Voiceover by me. Dun, dun, dun, dun. Special thanks to SAIT Radio for their support and the use of their studios. And most of all, thank you for listening.
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