Job Titles

August 7, 2023

Josephine Bush (@hellosqlkitty) asks us about job titles this month. And it’s something I’ve often wondered about, and haven’t really had a clue about for the past fifteen years.

My previous job titles included “consultant”, “manager”, “trainer”. Now I’m still all those things, plus I’m the owner of my own company. When I’m registering for an event and there’s a form item that says “Job Title”, my default answer is “Owner / Principal”, to convey that I own the company but still get involved in the work. I work on the company and I also work in the company.

As consultants, we don’t fit into any of the data-related titles that Josephine listed. We sometimes adopt all of those roles and more. But it’s the ‘more’ that is key here.

When we get involved at a client, we’re there to make a difference. To help them “do what they do better”, to quote our website. We listen to what’s not going well, and the things that they want to see improved. And we use our experience to find other things too. In some ways it’s like a Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, where we want to make sure the DBA functions are being fulfilled (such as, databases being backed up), but that’s rarely why we’re there. We want them to be reaching the top levels of the hierarchy (Maslow’s top level is ‘self-actualisation’ – and I’m fine with a data equivalent of that).

In many ways, we’re Business Consultants with a technical skew. We understand the significance of data, and the importance of having good data that is integrated across systems, populating a data model that describes the business function, while being secure and private, telling actionable stories to help people analyse the past and predict the future. And if this kind of thing doesn’t impact the business, then we’re not achieving our goals for our clients.

We want to be guides and mentors for our clients as they see the potential for their data. As they get their data quality sorted. As they see their business from perspectives they haven’t seen before, and start to realise what this means for their business.

But as for a title to describe this? I really have no idea.

We have to be both business-focused and tech-focused. Able to speak with C-level executives and with the people on the ground. We provide solutions that address the culture within the organisation and which address technical issues. The technical functionality we provide comes with opportunity to improve the business accordingly.

In some consultancies, this is simply translated as “Principal Consultant”. But I’m on the lookout for something better, that contains all the nuance I want it to. Something which lets our customers know that my employees are technically amazing, and yet sensitive to their business.

When I figure it out, I’ll let you know.

@rob_farley@twitter

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