05 Jul 2018  |  Culture

How We Built an SQL School

2 minute read

I’m Anna, Operations Analyst at Paddle. Before Paddle, I’d never used the query language SQL, now it’s something which I use daily. I wanted to share this new knowledge, so I set up an SQL school to teach others a new skill. Here’s what I’ve learned.

As an Operations Analyst I deal in data on a daily basis. Our databases are my workspace, the key is to know what you want, where it is and how to get it - this is where the query language SQL comes in handy. When I started at Paddle about eight months ago, I had no previous experience using SQL. I’d got used to trying to make a 50,000 row Excel spreadsheet obey my orders, with SQL I’m now able to easily navigate our databases and swiftly answer complicated questions using thousands of data points. At first, I thought that SQL was a wildly complicated language, then I realised that the most complicated part is actually knowing the ins and outs of your database from there on things moved pretty quickly.

Since my job is to make data more accessible at Paddle, I was keen to share this knowledge and I decided to give teaching a go. I wasn’t quite sure anyone would be interested in learning SQL, but I was happily surprised by the interest from my colleagues in an SQL school. We then arranged to teach two classes of eight people twice weekly, morning classes for the early birds (taught by myself) and evening classes, for those who don’t wanna get up with the sun (taught by Gerry, our Operations Manager).

The morning SQL School

The first few sessions revolved around the basics, SELECT, FROM, WHERE. After that people started utilising their new skills and were able to answer their own data questions. The classes are now more of a workshop for people to bring their queries and get help any issues they’ve been having.

SQL School is applicable to every function at Paddle, which is why it’s exciting that we have colleagues attending from almost every department. It’s already had an impact with Samuel in our Finance department, who uses queries to work out how much revenue we make in India, as well as Marion, our Marketing Manager, using SQL to look at our inbound marketing data and Jeppe in our Seller Success team, who’s able to write queries to efficiently handle seller requests.

SQL school has also inspired others in Paddle to start sharing their areas of expertise with Rob holding a Python class and Mike’s now starting up a Google Analytics course. Rob’s Python class, made up by people with no previous programming experience, actually ended up winning a prize at our last Hackathon, and it’s awesome to see our developers getting some outside competition in their own field. 😉

Anna teaching the morning SQL School

We currently have more than 25% of the company holding or attending these courses, with new people joining every week. It’s great to see people learning something new together in their free time and sharing what they do best with others.