How to Find and Become a Mentor with Chris Byington, VP of Data

Today’s modern data industry is young. Despite evolving at an incredibly fast pace, it’s unreasonable to think you can build a data team with candidates that have decades of experience. Therefore, it’s critical for our team at Updater to have a defined viewpoint on characteristics that make a strong data team member vs. an extremely specific, traditional data background. And, oftentimes, those characteristics come from a variety of diverse backgrounds – we love that.

Our VP of Data, Chris Byington, recently sat down with The Data Trek, a leading podcast in the data and AI space, to discuss what we search for in candidates, why mentoring is a great pathway into the industry if you come from a non-traditional background, how to mentor, and how to find a mentor.

Listen to the full podcast here or stream on Spotify:

If you can’t find the time to listen to the podcast in its entirety, here are a few highlights:

  • Updater’s data stack includes Snowflake, DBT, Airflow, and Looker. We purposefully blur the lines a bit between data engineering and data analysts, so all members of our team need to be able to operate across each of those technologies.

  • We seek out candidates who want to make an impact on our business, have an aptitude for learning the technical skills (if they don’t already possess the skills), are problem-solvers, and have diverse career experiences to round out viewpoints, opinions, and approaches.

  • Whether you’re looking for a mentor or want to become a mentor, check with your university for one-to-one mentorship programs. The human connection and ability to be real about career paths, mistakes made along the way, and your future is incredibly valuable for both parties.

  • Finding a mentor. Mentees often underestimate how valuable mentor conversations can be, but it’s absolutely worth the effort to seek one out – as long as you know what you want to get out of the experience. Once you identify the goal, it’s time to ask for help (which can be scary). Don’t be intimidated simply because a person is familiar with something that you aren’t. Leverage your university, find something in common with a stranger on LinkedIn who’s currently in a job you admire, find a second or third-degree connection on LinkedIn, etc. Whoever it is that you contact, be sure to keep in mind that being genuine about what you’re looking for and being vulnerable is the key to success. Keep an open mind and over-index on thoughtful questions and your outgoing nature.

  • Being a mentor. Being a mentor doesn’t always have to be formal – you’re probably mentoring someone today without even realizing it. You can start small by identifying a problem someone within your organization is having and coach them through a solution. Be sure to ask for feedback after the problem is solved – something as simple as a Slack or text that says, “Let me know how it goes!” A small win for the mentee will build trust and he/she may turn to you again in the future.

If you’d like to reach out to Chris about anything he discussed on the podcast, please reach out to him via LinkedIn.

If you’re interested in joining our Data Team and working with Chris, please visit our careers portal.