Nubank’s Analytics Engineering team’s lessons to boost creativity

Maintaining the culture and knowledge of a hyper-growing area can be a challenge. Nubank's Analytics Engineering team found a solution.

Nubank's Analytics Engineering team's lessons to boost creativity

It is common that, as companies grow, some of their values ​​are lost. Success is great, but maintaining the values ​​of that small team that started the business is essential for its future.

It was with this scenario in mind that Nubank’s Analytics Engineering chapter decided early on that it needed to create a ritual – which would end up becoming one of the most important events of the team to date. 

TGIF from Brazil

Pepijn Looije, one of the pioneers in the chapter, says that when they were just four professionals, they already wondered how they could ensure healthy growth without letting connections and knowledge exchange get lost.

After researching solutions to be implemented from the beginning, the engineers realized that Nubank’s Design team was already facing the same problem, and found a solution that could be adapted to other chapters’ contexts. The inspiration came from a letter from Google’s founders at the time of the company’s IPO in 2004.

“We encourage our employees, in addition to their regular projects, to spend 20% of their time working on what they think will benefit Google the most. That enables them to be more creative and innovative. Many of our significant advances have come about this way”

Larry Page and Sergey Brin

That is how TGIF was born, an acronym for Thank God It’s Friday – the good old Sextou for Brazilians. So the team had 20% of their time set aside for these interactions and ideas, intended to make these exchanges and to maintain the connection.

And now? See, below, how was the process to make TGIF a continuous and productive practice.

First of all: the hires

The first complementary measure to the ritual was to define criteria for future selections and hires. In other words: the only way to ensure that the culture would be maintained would be if the team hired people aligned with the thinking of the Nubank’s Analytics Engineering chapter.

For this, they defined the questions that would be asked to the candidates, which technical skills were expected, and which behavioral parameters would be indispensable.

Even so, how to maintain this culture created by four people? How to group multidisciplinary and physically distant teams even before the pandemic? How to be sure that everyone would grow together and share the necessary knowledge to perform their role?

For these questions, the evolution of TGIF has provided some answers.

TGIF: from genesis to the future

Every project beginning is full of opportunities and learning, and with TGIF it would be no different. Observing the three moments of the presentations used in the meetings, it is possible to notice an evolution that goes beyond the most obvious aspects of design and visual identity.

At first, the topics were just discussed as part of an agenda for the day. But the meeting quickly evolved into something bigger, a moment for the team to give opportunity for exchanges and celebrations. You had to start by breaking the ice, introducing newbies, or just chatting over coffee.

“By sharing experiences, we observed points of improvement and acted in several roles, from conception, prototyping, continuous improvement cycles to the delivery of an onboarding that still exists today and has welcomed more than 200 members following our processes. It is very challenging and rewarding to be able to act in an opportunity that was identified and will make the lives of the next people even better.” 

Apolo Takeshi, Analytics Engineer at Nubank

From the debate of ideas and exposure of problems, or even requests for tips emerged the TGIF Projects. These were projects guided by two of Nubank’s core values: 

“We think and act like owners” and “We build strong diverse teams.”

With that in mind, the team managed to awaken ideas that had not yet been considered or even new adaptations for solutions with a little bit of the prior knowledge of one team member or another. Thus, Analytics Engineers were able to learn and share knowledge more effectively.

Some of the projects developed from TGIF meetings: 

Tools

  • to compare differences between datasets (e.g.: when you make an adjustment to the data and want to ensure that no regressions were introduced);
  • to notify users when their data deviates from a certain standard.

Research on topics and concepts

  • what would later become CORE datasets;
  • opportunities in the form of information distribution.

Chapter governance and maintenance-oriented activities:

  • onboarding;
  • Chapter principles;
  • selection and hiring;
  • events.

How to implement a ritual like TGIF?

To all teams that intend to create a space for meeting and maintaining culture as Nubank’s Analytics Engineers did, it is worth paying attention to the four golden tips that can help in the process.

  1. Stay true to the original desire (in the case of AE, it was the exchange of knowledge and team integration);
  2. Start even without being 100% sure how to do it;
  3. Keep trying until you get it right;
  4. Don’t give up, and go back to the first tip.

“I participated in a TGIF project to define the chapter’s principles (our mission, vision, and values). Something that really caught my attention was that even with me being new to the chapter and to Nubank, I had total support and autonomy to help in the development of the project, bringing suggestions, debating ideas, and leading some steps and actions. The project itself was very cool because it gave me the opportunity to talk and meet different AEs, in addition to capturing how each one saw the essence of the chapter”

Lorena Borges, Analytics Engineer at Nubank

Nubank’s Analytics Engineering actions

Currently, the AE team has 115 members and has already tried several options to maintain the relevance of the meeting and continue connecting so many people even in a fully remote work scenario, after the beginning of the pandemic, in March 2020. Some examples of actions:

Use the time for Happy Hour and integration

Meetings:

  • In the same virtual room;
  • In customizable environments;
  • In small groups (breakout rooms);
  • Online games;
  • Audio only.

Knowledge sharing

  • Presentations (internal or external guests); 
  • Documentation;
  • Recording (audio and video).

Challenging projects that allow you to practice different skills such as Agile, Product Management, Software Architecture, etc.:

  • Theoretical Debates
  • WhiteBoarding
  • Proofs of Concepts
  • Governance
  • Products and Services

“In my first TGIF, a project was presented about the governance of our chapter, which aimed to improve topics like career progression, member development, onboarding, documentation, etc. What impressed me the most that day was the engagement of all chapter members in proposing ideas and helping each other so that all these topics had the best possible outcome. “

Thiago Farias, Analytics Engineer at Nubank

Read more:

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