Right off the bat, Esther Cohen throws me a curve ball. We’re chatting over GoogleMeet about her career in data.
“You could say that I studied analysis at university,” she responds when I ask her how she got into data analytics, “except that I was a Literature major.”
More specifically, the Bronx native studied Shakespeare and Modern Female Playwrights.
“So I studied patterns,” she explains.
After a brief tangential discussion around Irish Theatre and the unique and lovely madness of Samuel Beckett, Esther continues.
“After university, I kind of fell into a career of teaching people how to use computer programs which included things like Word, Power Point, Excel, Quark and a myriad of random applications. I was working for a training company and I realised I was very good with platforms like these.”
When she took a position at McKinsey twenty years ago, she informed her employer that analytics was her speciality and she “made sure that it was”.
Becoming an Expert Quickly
“So when we were adopting both Tableau and Alteryx in 2015, I had to become an expert in both programs in three months,” she says. “It was quite an on-boarding ramp.”
Given that Esther not only had to learn the ins and outs of both tools but was also tasked with putting together a comprehensive training programme for the entire company, that might well qualify as an understatement. It is, without doubt, a project that she can look back on with some well-deserved pride.
Seven years on, Esther’s love of both tools has not diminished. She is still very active in both the Alteryx and Tableau communities. In October 2019 she became an Alteryx ACE.
Solving Puzzles with Alteryx
“I think the strength of Alteryx is its ability to solve puzzles,” she says. “I can solve so many different kinds of puzzles with data in Alteryx and that’s what it comes down to for me. I also love that it saves people time and gives them their life back.”
“It does things a lot better than Excel. I took a process from a client that took two-and-a-half hours in a really well created SQL server, pulling from all different places, beautifully done, beautifully scripted, was as efficient as it could be, but then after a two-day workshop with me, the client was able to build the same process in Alteryx; it took him about forty-five minutes to build, and I believe it took him two minutes to run.”
For Esther, the power of Alteryx is in its simplicity.
“Within a few hours of being introduced to it, you can get up and running with Alteryx,” she says. “What I like to do starting people off is ask them what they did in Excel and show them how to do that in Alteryx. They already have an understanding of what they want and so together we figure out what tools get them to the place they want to go to and then they can really get going from there.”
Becoming an ACE
Since becoming an ACE, the pathway to which she will discuss on June 23rd, Esther has enjoyed her association with Alteryx even more.
“You’re involved with an incredible group of different, but at the same time, like-minded people,” she says. “We all love data and we have this program in common that we all love. We have tremendous respect for each other. Everyone has their own thing they’re incredible at and it’s just this wonderful family.”
One of her favourite times of the week are the now famous happy hours where ACEs meet up virtually, drink a beer and discuss anything – sometimes they even discuss data.
“We have become very close,” she says. “And we have a sort of respect and safety around each other which is quite incredible.”
We look forward to hearing about her journey to becoming an Alteryx ACE as well as her powerful 30 Tips in 30 Minutes with her friend and fellow ACE, Alberto Guisande, on June 23rd.
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