From Worksheets to Workflows: My Career Change into Data Analytics
Welcome to our “Journey to Tessellation” series, in which we’re sharing the exciting, unconventional, and innovative career paths behind our entire team of consultants. Read on to discover how Jacob Kanh, one of our newest consultants, switched career paths from tax and auditing into data analytics.
If you enjoy the career insights behind Jacob’s journey, be sure to sign up for his upcoming webinar: How to Prove the Best Projects for Your Data Analytics Portfolio, in which he’ll show you how to easily build an impressive, award-winning portfolio for data analytics or data science that will help you land your dream job. Register here!
I was introduced to Alteryx while working at one of the world’s largest public accounting firms in a two-day training session led by an Alteryx Partner. In honesty, I was invited to the training due to a lack of attendance from other invited participants. I was new to the job, so of course, I accepted the offer to participate. And so my journey began…
I was unfamiliar with terms such as “metadata”, “data type”, ”iteration”, “macro”, “automation”; anything associated with data analytics and data engineering. I had minimal experience working in Excel, and I hadn’t seen big data in the work I was doing – mostly reviewing prepared tax returns.
The excitement of the Alteryx Partner and the discussion around automation and decreasing costs emphasized the importance of the training I attended; however, I could not think of a use case to develop with my minimal experience. As well, the other folks who were all more experienced kept mentioning that the Alteryx Designer software is too advanced for the data used in tax compliance.
By chance, I was staffed on a large engagement that prepared the Federal U.S. Return of Partnership Income. The client had provided the team with big data trading reports consisting of trading lots and holdings. While the manager explained to me the method and process of grouping the transactions in these big data reports, my new Alteryx light bulb lit up.
Rather than follow the legacy process utilizing extremely slow Excel workpapers and VBA macros, I opened my Alteryx Designer software and started implementing the critical thinking techniques I picked up during the two-day aforementioned Alteryx training. Within a few hours, I returned to the manager’s desk and explained Alteryx and the workflow I built.
Word quickly spread that we were on the road to saving 2,000 hours of manual preparation time on a single engagement. We expanded the workflow to include different functionality, output reports, etc. We iterated the workflow to minimize human time spent in organizing the input and output reports. And we layered on the workflow an analytical application that allowed us to share the workflow with team members not requiring any Alteryx knowledge or expertise.
Forging a New Future
What excited me most about Alteryx was the emphasis on recognizing a new way of thinking. In many scenarios, individuals with legacy knowledge perform more efficiently and accurately. Alteryx proved otherwise – a new way of thinking innovatively had the upper hand. I was also excited about moving on from manual tax return review.
I enjoyed the time working with teams throughout the firm, introducing clients to Alteryx, assisting them to build out workflows, and ultimately increasing that bottom line. This was my new passion. Everything I looked at, I saw an Alteryx workflow. Anything I thought of, I put onto an Alteryx Designer Canvas.
When I thought of where I wanted to see myself in twenty years, my vision changed from a public accounting tax partner; I wanted to have problems, solutions, education, and experience in data analytics, data engineering, Alteryx, and transformation. I was once told that rather than dip my feet in every self-service automation software on the market, to learn how to solve any problem I face using a single tool. While I digress being stumped multiple times, I’m on the path.
I met the Tessellation recruiting team and saw a passionate team of individuals looking to share the same excitement I had for data analytics, data engineering, and self-service technology. Not only was their passion, but the team was serious about my knowledge, understanding, and capabilities utilizing multiple self-service analytical tools. I very quickly understood that being part of this team would give me the opportunity to face challenges, problems, develop solutions and become an educator. As well, I saw myself on the team – a valued contributor.
Jacob Kahn is currently a consultant at Tessellation, where he drives the development of data processing and automation solutions. He has a wealth of knowledge in tax and audit consulting and brings a strong dexterity in Alteryx to the table.
While working at one of the world’s largest public account firms, Jacob found himself fascinated with improving workflows, optimizing automations, and mastering Alteryx. His natural gift for building intuitive yet innovative workflows led to him to win the 2020 Alteryx Excellence Award.
If you enjoy the career insights behind Jacob’s journey, be sure to sign up for his upcoming webinar: How to Prove the Best Projects for Your Data Analytics Portfolio, in which he’ll show you how to easily build an impressive, award-winning portfolio for data analytics or data science that will help you land your dream job.