What It Means To Be a Data Superhero

From the platform’s basics to deep-dive feature tutorials, Snowflake’s Data Superheroes are committed to upskilling each and every Snowflake user. We talked to Community contributor, Christopher Marland, to find out more. 

Whether you need help with your architecture or you’re interested in the latest Snowflake product releases, the Snowflake Community is an accessible knowledge bank that’s run by Snowflake users, for Snowflake users. 

And when you consider the pace at which Snowflake’s platform is being developed with new features and integrations, who better to explain and distill the platform than the people who use it everyday in their own roles? 

One such trailblazer is Christopher Marland, Senior Data Engineer at Aimpoint Digital and longstanding contributor to the Snowflake Community. We recently caught up with him to discover what it’s really like being a Data Superhero, his new weekly Snowflake skills challenges website, and the life changing opportunities that can come from Snowflake events. 

A thirst for knowledge can take you to interesting places

For most modern data professionals, upskilling in the latest data management and analytics tools is no longer just nice to have, it’s an operational necessity—not least a significant career advantage. It’s something Marland quickly discovered early in his career: “I knew I wanted a Snowflake-heavy role from the off, so I dived into learning as much about the platform as possible,” said Marland. 

Marland set about creating his first content for the Community: a vlog on setting up new instances in Snowpipe. “Snowflake changes so rapidly, so it needs a big community to keep up with it—it’s something you don’t really get with other vendors,” said Marland. “It’s why I made it my mission to simplify technical documentation for newer users, helping them upskill on the platform as quickly as possible.” 

“As I got more involved in the Snowflake Community, I set up a virtual London User Group—and the folks from Snowflake suggested I get involved in reviving the official UK User Group by merging the two together,” added Marland. 

And it’s this commitment to helping less experienced users that drives his Community involvement to this day. In fact, Marland has made it his mission to help those that he believes can benefit from greater Community support: “While the Community needs to focus on public preview features, there’s relatively little support for those just starting out with Snowflake,” said Marland. “What may seem basic to a more advanced user can be difficult to others. I’m always very conscious how difficult it can be to ask for help—everyone needs a voice.” 

Encouraging heated competition with Frosty Fridays 

Launched in summer 2022, Frosty Fridays is Marland’s latest project, extending his regular contributions to Snowflake’s Community to focus more on “challenge-based”, posted each week. The idea is to get Snowflake users involved in creating workflows in Snowflake based on a brief, with the results of each test landing people on a public leaderboard. 

“Our aim with Frosty Fridays is to get people an opportunity to upskill in Snowflake, from old to new or simple to complicated features—benefiting both users and Snowflake as a platform,” said Marland. “It helps people expand their knowledge of the platform and demonstrate their expertise among their peers. We’ve even secured a guest challenge from Snowflake’s development team, so watch this space.” 

One of the biggest advantages of Marland’s approach to tutorials are his use of visuals throughout the source material and weekly tests. It’s a tactic he picked up in a previous role that helped him upskill in new technologies quickly. 

Networking with industry peers: Benefits that go way beyond knowledge sharing

As a Data Superhero, Marland is consistently surprised that he’s recognized at Snowflake events for his Snowflake Community contributions. More recently, he discovered the advantages of Community networking at the Snowflake Summit in Las Vegas. 

“I’ve just started a new role at Aimpoint Digital, who are investing significantly in Snowflake’s Data Cloud,” said Marland. “I got talking to some of their people at the Snowflake Summit partly based on my work in the Snowflake Community.” 

Marland also expressed his excitement towards the next user group taking place in London: “Our next user group is coinciding with the BUILD.local London, which should make our next user group extra exciting! There’s going to be lots of swag and, of course, really engaging speakers. We’re one of only 15 BUILD.local events in the world, so it should be a next-level kind of event for the user group.”

Giving back to the Community—one post at a time

As the power of data continues to grow, being able to put a face to technology will be of growing importance. The truth is that humans deal with other humans, and as Marland highlights, collaboration and growth relies on a level of personal trust. 

“New technology adoption is impossible if there are skill gaps,” said Marland. “That’s why initiatives like the Snowflake Community and its Data Superheroes will only become more important. Being a Data Superhero means I’m constantly building my expertise and helping ensure more people use and grow the platform.” 

Learn more about the Snowflake Data Super Heroes Community, and see how you can get involved. 

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