The Breakfast Club: Data Edition

Confused? Let me explain, here in Data and Analytics, we have our own Breakfast Club. Exactly like the one from the movie.

Well, not exactly. We’re not forced to attend on a Saturday, we’re not told to sit in silence, and judging by our creeping age, we’re definitely not in high school. Our version, Coding Club, meets on Wednesdays, we don’t hate each other, and we don’t wear pink, wait, wrong film! Coding Club was the brainchild of one of our own analysts – Sophie Cook – with the aim to encourage technical learning and development in a judgement-free setting. Can’t see any similarities? Bear with me, I’ll get there.

Coding Club is a casual small group of colleagues meeting to walk through a case study that uses a particular technical method, usually from Kaggle. Just like the group of teenagers in The Breakfast Club, Coding Club is made up of colleagues who are completely different to each other. Except, whilst the teenagers are from different school cliques, we all have different technical specialities and experiences. Academically, we have a complete mix, from Masters in Economics and Politics, to degrees in Biomedicine and Geography. Statistically, we all have different areas of expertise too; regression analysis, forecasting, and natural language processing are just a handful of techniques that our members have in depth knowledge of. Most importantly, we all have different interests, which, as The Breakfast Club members learn, is actually what brings people together.

Coding Club is just one of the vessels for free thinking and independent learning that is encouraged in the Data and Analytics team. Since launching, the Coding Club has organised a Data Challenge Day for the entire team. The team were put into groups that were specifically selected to have a mix of skills and abilities. The groups were then given a scenario – a town planner and property developer keen to build a small development somewhere in Essex – and their task was to use the provided data to make recommendations on the type and scale of housing, dependent on the needs of the communities nearby. There was a solid turnout, possibly correlated with lunch being provided and/or the promise of Percy Pigs to the winning group, nonetheless the team really enjoyed learning from one another.

Whilst skill development is still nurtured through traditional methods such as 1-to-1s and training, we also have the freedom to find time in our week to learn how we want to. For some, that may be utilising the Data Camp platform to brush up on their SQL skills. For others, it’s getting together with a group of people who all know different things and want to learn more. Both methods of gathering knowledge and skills are effective, but we are encouraged to do whatever learning method works for the individual.

So, yes, whilst we are not misbehaving teenagers attending detention (well, not anymore), we are different people, with different skillsets to share. Finding the time and forum to share these skillsets is crucial to not just personal development, but team development as a whole, which is why Coding Club is so great. However, we definitely won’t be turning up for it on a Saturday, though.

Sincerely yours, the Coding Club.

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