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How this alumni is using data to extract insights and create stronger strategies

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Most of our Data Analysis grads go on to work as a data analyst, but sometimes they find the opportunity to build on their existing skills and use data skills to boost a different career path, like Stewart Donaldson! We sit down with him to learn about his CodeClan experience. Stewart currently works at PawPrint, an organization that unites people in the fight against climate change, empowering them to measure, understand and reduce their carbon footprint. Pawprint has created an eco platform that brings technology, behavioural science and carbon data together.
Tell us a little bit about what you do

I work as a marketing manager at PawPrint, a tech startup, so I work on promoting the product, help increase product awareness and help drive traffic to the product and get people engaged and get them to start working on driving change.

What made you want to take up a course in Data Analytics at CodeClan? 

I’ve been in the world of marketing for a long time, my previous role was at a digital marketing agency where we harnessed the power of data to try and find the biggest opportunities to drive traffic to the website and used data to find those opportunities. 

At the time, I was using spreadsheets a lot, which was frustrating and I noticed that potentially upskilling myself with technical data skills might give me an advantage and I could get more analysis, extract insights and create better strategies. CodeClan had the course starting just as I was made redundant, which gave me enough the opportunity to upskill. 

What were the limitations you noticed with spreadsheets that made you want to get into programming instead?

When dealing with large datasets, the data runs into the millions and trying to use spreadsheets to manipulate and clean data to then extract insights would result in a crash, comparatively when you use programming languages such as R, the process takes a day and you don’t have to spend weeks trying to figure out how to stop the spreadsheet from crashing. With R and other programming languages, you get a level of control that gives you the freedom to wrangle the data and extract the insights necessary without wasting time. 

When dealing with spreadsheets and deadlines, the insights you’d be able to extract are very surface. The knowledge I gained from the CodeClan course made me realise, if only I had this knowledge before, the amount of value I could have brought to my clients and the performance I could have driven for my clients would have been staggering. 

What parts of the CodeClan course did you enjoy and how has it helped you in your role? 

I loved the data cleaning, analysis and visualisation modules. It was great to learn one function that you could write in a couple of seconds to do the job that would take hours to execute on a spreadsheet. With respect to carrying over parts of the course to my role, when I’ve had to do some sort of data analysis my first instinct is to use R now and it takes me half the time to do the analysis. 

The course taught me how to deal with spatial data which gave me all the necessary skills to create a map that heat-mapped where the investors came from across the UK, I know I couldn’t have pulled that off prior to studying data analysis. 

What made you pick the CodeClan course? 

I’d been following CodeClan for a while and had been on a couple of their short courses learning about front end development and software development, so I had a good idea what the teaching environment was like. It was great to have a set of instructors who could help clarify everything and the teaching really helped me get a firm grasp on concepts of programming which I couldn’t get as easily on YouTube. 

I also really like being held accountable with assignments and classes, so the structure of the course was a big plus for me alongside having the hands-on, one-to-one training was a key benefit and a major selling point. 

What support did you receive from CodeClan?

The learning curve was definitely steep, I didn’t struggle with the general coding elements but more so the statistics side and keeping up with the pace was diificult but the instructors were fantastic. We had four instructors who supported us through the learning, if you had any questions, they were really good at helping explain things to you in simple terms. I didn’t comprehend how fast-paced it actually is, with daily and weekend homework, it’s a lot but well worth all the effort from Day 1. 

The career service helps you with your CV and your LinkedIn. I genuinely thought I had an alright CV but after speaking to the careers team, I realised that I needed to improve on it to make it standout. This helped a lot when I was looking for a marketing role after the course.

As a marketer now equipped with the power of data, would you recommend this course for marketers?

Definitely! I’ve been trying to learn different skills to complement my marketing background and from my experience, data is always going to be a critical part of the role whether it’s in research, campaign performance or traffic. There’s always some sort of data analysis that is needed and being able to execute that is something the modern marketer needs to know how to do.

Having gone through the process of using Excel to now using R as a marketer, the difference is night and day. A lot of people get overwhelmed with the idea of programming and have no idea where to start but with a course like CodeClan’s you don’t have to worry about that. 

Join us at an information session or taster session to learn more about our Data Analysis course, or check out our data short courses

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