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Data UnZipped: Q&A with Alvin


Alvin Rusly


November 9, 2023

Data UnZipped: Q&A with Alvin

Meet Alvin, a Sydney-based Senior Data Analyst II, whose work is helping Zip's New Zealand team make better data-driven decisions.

Alvin, tell us about your background, how long you’ve been with Zip and a little bit about your role and your day to day work here.

My name is Alvin, I’ve been with Zip just over 6 months now having joined as a Senior Data Analyst. I’m based out of Sydney but I predominantly support the teams in New Zealand to make data driven decisions.

It helps that Zip is at the forefront of developing effective and efficient data strategies involving leading partners such as DBT, Snowflake, Databricks and Atlan, allowing me to unlock NZ's data rapidly and ensuring that it is future-proof.

Since joining, I've tapped into various areas to unlock the power of data such as commercial, merchant, finance, and marketing to build and verify data that can be examined in these verticals, which has been insightful and challenging at the same time.

My day-to-day would normally start quite early due to the time difference, but the NZ team have been very accommodating in enabling an async update via Slack as a daily stand-up alternative. I would also have a separate catch-up with our AU team - enabling me to ensure our data initiatives between the regions are aligned.

A JIRA board scan would remind me what's on my priority list and I would normally spend the day cracking on with either model development / debugging in DBT and Snowflake, testing new data pipelines with the data engineering team, helping out any calls for help via the dedicated slack channels, or building visualisations in Tableau.

Recently I've been quite interested in running propensity models for our recently #f6f6eed NZ data tables - so hopefully that'll be on my list soon enough!

How has working in data at Zip differed from previous organisations you’ve worked with?

In my relatively short time at Zip, I’ve already had an outstanding opportunity to learn and contribute in ways I couldn’t have at other places, which I’m grateful for. I’m given the freedom to investigate and own the end to end data lifecycle, rather than just being focussed on one specific area of data, for example, report building. Here, I have the ability to explore different facets of data related work, from Analytics to Machine Learning and Data Engineering.

We also have a lot of diversity in our data team which has really helped to establish a fun working environment where people are empowered to share their ideas. I think that this has created a more progressive place for work to happen.

How has working with a broad range of business units supported your growth as an analyst?

Having access to this breadth of data is exciting because it gives me the opportunity to stretch outside of my day to day role. At Zip I feel grateful to have options. There are opportunities to get involved in different projects which ultimately supports my long term career development.

Working with different business units has also accelerated my understanding of our products and has allowed me to join the dots between similar challenges that different teams are facing and bring them together to solve.

What are you working on at Zip that you’ve not had a chance to work on at other organisations?

Getting up close and personal with the intricacies of how data flows throughout the company is something that is quite rare. Having end-to-end visibility is refreshing and gives you a unique experience that was often red-taped in my previous roles, where tasks are siloed and therefore makes problem-solving time-consuming.

The lack of pace that I’ve seen at other organisations can hinder your ability to be retrospective, which is really important as an Analyst. On the flip side, at Zip it’s really easy to look at a few different interesting projects over a 6 month period.

What one thing that people outside of the organisation may not know about Zip makes you excited about your future?

I attended the DBT conference last month, where one of my teammates Moss Pauly was presenting his insights on migrating to a modern data stack., It was awesome to see how advanced technically Zip is in how we use this fairly new tools for complex data engineering.

Zip has a reputation for using cutting edge technology but it was cool to see this in an external setting. One of the things I really appreciate here is that there is always a push for us to do things differently and change the game across the business, not just in data team.

If someone was considering a job at Zip what advice would you give them?

Things move quickly here! Some things that could take months at other organisations might take a week at Zip. So my advice would be to be prepared to jump on and deliver an idea that comes out of a meeting straight away. Be ready to think outside of the box.

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