Data Girls at REA Group

Having been a female my entire life and interested in numbers for nearly as long, I’m passionate about getting more women to work with data.  We know that there’s a gender imbalance in data analysis roles across the industry. Even at REA Group, only about 30% of our data analyst roles are currently held by women.  With data roles projected to grow by nearly 20% over the next five years and data becoming increasingly important in fields from marketing to HR to agriculture, it’s a great time to encourage more women to enter the field.

One of the ways we’re doing this at REA Group is to partner with to run full-day Data Girls workshops, designed to give an overview of tools and techniques for data analysis and how data is used to drive business decisions.  In our first two workshops we’ve hosted over 120 women from many different industries, including education, music, medicine, and marketing–all with a range of experience in using data.
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DevOpsGirls becomes a community

DevOpsGirls started a year ago with a bunch of enthusiastic REA people who wanted to make a difference in diversity in Tech, particularly with women who are interested in DevOps.

After running two highly engaging bootcamps we have been discussing a lot about what’s next for this initiative. REA has been an amazing incubator of the idea and has provided everything that we needed so far to kick-start the movement, but among the organisers we had a feeling that if we wanted to reach the next level we needed bigger support from other individuals and organisations. That’s difficult to do if it’s attached to a single sponsor. With the great response we have had from the industry and the beautiful experience of having external coaches joining the previous boot camp has help us determine the next step.

And so — I am super happy to announce that DevOpsGirls will become part of DevOps Australia – an organisation well know for running conferences like DevOps Down Under! Thanks to Matt Jones for the support and we really believe this is a step in the right direction and would help DevOpsGirls operate in a more effective way.

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A Haskell In Prod Journey

At REA we happily use a variety of programming languages. Teams are given the freedom to choose a fitting language for a given project. Mostly this ends up being one of Ruby, Java, or Scala. However, there are some languages that we as developers and ops people get excited about, but the viability as a mainstream REA language hasn't yet been established.

For me personally, Haskell is what I code on the weekends and I've been looking for a way to shoehorn it into my regular work 😉

Recently I learnt that REA does in fact have some Haskell in prod. Who owns it? What does it do? No one will ever know. However as the story goes, it was automating a manual task and as such it was simply a value add that became a useful tool, and avoided questions like 'just what is a monad anyway!?'.

Jim Gaylard and I, Haskell acolytes, attempted something similar on hack day.

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Devopsgirls 2.0

Only 6 months has passed since our inaugural DevOps Girls bootcamp and on Saturday 12th of August 2017 we had the pleasure of running the second edition. For those new to the bootcamp: it is a free event for women interested in learning more about devops, run by a community of passionate volunteers.

The idea started with a realisation that unless we are proactive about diversity in tech and we make meaningful contributions, it’s going to be hard to move the needle on this. The aim of the event is not only to train women but also to create a community of like-minded people who can provide support to each other.

Our first bootcamp went extremely well. From the moment it finished all the organisers and collaborators, apart from being exhausted, were already thinking: when are we doing this again? And of course, we did. We decided to run another introduction to AWS, iterating on the lessons that we learned in the first edition. Continue reading

Game of Lambdas

Recently we launched a recommendation engine, which was built using AWS Serverless technology. The journey of implementing this solution turned out to be an interesting one on a number of levels. Since its deployment into production, we thought it would be a good idea to share some of our lessons.

Bucket of Data

Essentially the system transforms a very large dataset into smaller ones that are used to create audiences or data segments which are used for hyper targeted EDMs.

To get from the initial state to the final state, the data is transformed over several stages using 8 Lambdas. Continue reading