I'm passionate about Software Development, Data Engineering, and Data Analysis. I'm a husband, a father, and the servant to three fat cats. I spend my time coding, reading, and hanging with my family.
I began my professional career as an attorney, though I was never particularly passionate about the law. I eventually found myself working for a law firm where project management skills were in higher demand than lawyering skills. With an eye for making myself more valuable to the firm, I ended up doing a lot of work generating reports in Excel. Fortunately, I found this data work much more enjoyable than my law work. Eventually the reports got more sophisticated and I found myself muddling through macros and editing VBA code to generate the reports. While I'm sure I'd be horrified if I looked back at the messy bit of coding I did for those Excel reports, the experience gave me a grounding in business intelligence and began to give me insight into the power of programming for data analysis.
Today I work as a Data Engineer at Ankura Consulting. While Ankura provides a large variety of services, my work supports software applications Ankura makes for the legal industry (so I'm still working around the law, if not with the law). Within our section of the company the team I work on is known as the Data Team. We had some lengthy discussions about what our titles should be (because we work for a consulting firm, HR insists everybody's title is "Associate" or "Senior Associate", regardless of the type of work you do).
'Data Modeler' is a title we've used when we were looking for new people to expand our team, but we dislike the term because it can be confused with statistical modeling, which we do little of. 'Software Developer' seemed wrong because while we do produce some tooling applications for internal use, they are incidental to our function. We figured we'd probably have to use statistics if we were going to call ourselves Data Scientists, so that was out. 'Data Analyst' came pretty close to the mark, as our team's core function is to produce analytical reports. However, "Analyst" made it sound like someone plopped some data down in front of us and we poked around in Excel all day (I would know, as that used to be my job).
We settled on 'Data Engineer' as a description of our position because we thought it sounded good and captured the large amount of work we do transforming application data into a state that is usable for analysis. Really what they pay me for is to make reports and help other people make reports. It turns out it's a bit more complicated than it sounds. But it's a good job for a Data Engineer.
Off the Clock
I spend all day programming and then when I get home from work I unwind by...programming more. Let me explain.
First, programming is my second career, I have no formal education in the area, and there are plenty of knowledge gaps that I need to fill by individual research and exploration.
Second, software development is a field that is rapidly changing and will continue to rapidly change as new tooling and techniques are developed. One of the great things about the industry is that there is always the opportunity to learn more.
Third, the type of programming I do at home is different than at work. While at work I'm usually buried in the middle of a SQL query or some Python automation code, at home I generally mess around with web application development. While it's my hope to incorporate web development into my day job, no one's going to pay me for it unless I actually know how to do it.
So when I'm not programming for Ankura and I'm not programming for myself I'm...programming for Code for America. Code for America has a great mission, and I've had the pleasure of supporting two of their brigades: Code for DC and Code for Grenville. If you have a brigade in your area I strongly encourage you to check out a meeting.