Elevate your data career: the ultimate guide to career growth and skill development

Upskill your career in data with advice from over 50 experts at MDS Fest 2.0. Get your free tickets today at mdsfest.com
Last updated
May 2, 2024

We all know how fast-evolving the data space is. Staying ahead means constantly refining your skill set and adapting to new technologies, methodologies and trends. At MDS Fest 2.0, we have a dedicated track on Career Growth and Skills Development to offer a unique opportunity for data professionals looking to navigate the complexities of career advancement.

Speaker sessions will answer your most asked questions, like:

  • How do I break into the data industry?
  • How do I design my career in data?
  • What does it take to become a leader in data?
  • How can I start my own business in data?

Here's why attending this track could be a game-changer for your data career:

Get tailored advice from the best in the industry

We’ve designed this track  with the specific challenges of data professionals in mind. Whether you're a data analyst, data scientist, data engineer, or any role in between, the landscape is shifting beneath your feet. This track acknowledges that staying relevant isn't just about keeping up with technical skills but also understanding the broader trends shaping the industry.

One of the most compelling reasons to attend talks on this track is the access to seasoned professionals who have successfully navigated their data careers. Speakers will share their personal journeys, including the hurdles they've overcome and the strategies that helped them thrive. Hearing these stories provides not only inspiration but also practical advice that you can apply in your career path. Not to mention, the speakers in our lineup are folks who you would usually pay hundreds of dollars to go see at a big conference - at MDS Fest, they are sharing their knowledge for free, an opportunity you don’t want to miss.

Build your toolbox for success

Beyond motivational insights, this track equips attendees with a robust set of tools and strategies for career advancement. From identifying the most in-demand skills in today's data job market to learning how to effectively showcase your expertise, the sessions are designed to offer actionable guidance. Expect to learn about:

  • Navigating the landscape of data roles and finding your niche
  • Building a personal brand that stands out in the data community
  • Networking strategies to connect with peers and industry leaders
  • Continuing education and certification options to boost your credentials

Why it matters for your career

Attending sessions focused on career growth and skills development is an investment in your professional future. We know the data field is not only competitive, but also rapidly changing, meaning that what worked yesterday might not suffice tomorrow. This track offers a roadmap to not just keep pace but to excel, positioning yourself as a valuable asset to any organization.

The insights and skills gained from this track can help clarify your career goals and provide a clearer path to achieving them. Whether you're looking to step into a leadership role, pivot to a new specialization, or simply want to ensure your skills are current, the knowledge shared here is invaluable.

Join us and transform your data career

This track is more than just a series of talks; it's a stepping stone to unlocking your full potential in the data industry. By attending, you'll gain access to a wealth of knowledge, insights, and strategies tailored to help you succeed, along with a chance to connect with the remarkable speakers behind these sessions.

Join us and be part of a community that's shaping the future of data.

Not sure which sessions to attend? We’ve got a rundown of all of the speaker sessions to make things a little bit easier for you. Review the list and register for any talks that resonate with you.

To register for these talks and more, visit mdsfest.com.

From data engineer to consultant

A talk by: Benjamin Rogojan , Principal Consultant, Seattle Data Guy

Who Is This Talk For: Data ICs And Managers What Will The Talk Be About: As data analysts, engineers and scientists grow in their career, they will likely start to wonder where they'd like their career to grow. Some enjoy being an IC and aim to become senior/staff levels. While others might go the route of management. But there are other options. One of those is starting to consult. The data space is so massive and complex that many companies need help with varying forms of consulting. In this talk we'll talk about my journey, what I have learned and how you can also make the switch if you believe it's right for you.

Data storytelling is hard: let AI make it easy

A talk by: Christopher Chin , Data Presentation and Storytelling Trainer, The Hidden Speaker

Data storytelling can be one of the most challenging tasks of the value chain. All too often we find our reports not read, our models not adopted, and our dashboards not used - stakeholders, managers, and executives seeing tons of numbers on a screen without any clear idea of why they matter and what to do.

Good data stories aren’t being told.

In a revolutionary paradigm shift, AI can help us be more human by empowering us to tell better stories - teaching us how to organize the information we have into an emotionally engaging narrative that persuades, motivates, and inspires.

In this session intended for data professionals at any stage of their career, learn from a data presentation and storytelling trainer how to use AI to create successful data stories for your organization.

How notebooks empower citizen data scientists

A talk by: Megan Lieu , Data Advocate, Deepnote

In the past couple years, the trends that have altered the course of the data industry have been the explosion of data roles, the increase in remote roles, and the rise of AI. These three forces have led to the rise of the Citizen Data Scientist. Our prediction is that the Citizen Data Scientist will become one of the most important roles in data and business teams. In this talk, we’ll discuss how data notebooks can enable these folks to support their teams better, democratize their insights and empower their entire organizations to collaborate better.

So you want to be an analytics engineer?

A talk by: Madison Schott , Senior Analytics Engineer, ConvertKit

Are you a data analyst or data engineer looking to explore a career pivot? Analytics engineering may just be for you. In this talk, I will explore the main differences between a data analyst, an analytics engineer, and a data engineer. We will then talk about the main technical skills and soft skills you need to know, and how you can work on developing them, to transition into this role.

Upskilling without pitfalling

A peer exchange session by: Phoenix Millacy Jay , Data & Analytics, /dev/color , and Natalie Nakamine , Analytics Engineer, Retool

Data Practitioners regardless of being veterans after years of data wrangling or leading teams may struggle to keep up with upskilling in the new paradigm shifts, while early stage folks just finishing up self study, bootcamp or formal study historically struggle with applying these skills to generate scalable business insights. Join this talk and you can add your voice to help determine the flow of discussion around how to upskill as: - a seasoned senior leader managing teams with new tools - a plateaued professional assigned only repetitive projects - a puzzled post-grad breaking into business insights without business context.

Mentorship: The fast-track To upleveling

A talk by: Matthew Weingarten , Lead Data Engineer, The Walt Disney Company

When you first join the ranks of engineering, you feel like a small fish in a giant pond. By latching onto some of the bigger fish, you can feel more to ease during that transition period, and really start to see yourself grow.

That sign won't stop me because I can't read: collaborative data literacy solutions at work

A peer exchange session by: Jerrie Kumalah , Resident Architect, dbt Labs and Faith Lierheimer, Sr. Technical Instructor, dbt Labs

Session goals:

1. Define and share what data literacy means in various business contexts.

2. Identify specific situations where lack of data literacy hinders the data team's work, again with attention to business context.

3. Have attendees share what achieving some level of data literacy would look like specifically at their organization. If they could wave a magic wand and suddenly have data-literate execs and business stakeholders, what are some behaviors that those data-literate people would engage in?

4. Work backwards from the ideal and identify 2-3 specific strategies to encourage that ideal behavior from your business stakeholders/execs.Each of these 4 topics would be discussed in smaller groups and then shared out with the larger group. The first 2 would be discussed simultaneously in breakout rooms and then returned to the larger group to share, and then the last 2 would be discussed in breakout rooms & returned to the larger group to share out, with volunteers identified to take notes and send to attendees post-session.

You don't have to write SQL until you die

A talk by: Jeff Sloan , Product, Census

For anyone who has thought about a career outside of dashboards and SQL, this panel session is for you. It can happen! And not only that -- your experience in data makes you more capable than you ever thought possible. In this talk, three panelists discuss a life outside of the data organization, after making career switches to different roles. They'll explore: 1. How data skills give them super powers in their new day-to-day work 2. Why they made the jump 3. Their fears and adjustment period Expect candid discussions of following your passions, Imposter Syndrome, managing burnout, and the most difficult question of all: Is the grass really greener?

Women Lead Data with Lindsay Murphy and Julie Beynon

A live podcast recording with Lindsay Murphy , Head of Data,Secoda , and Julie Beynon , Head of Data, Census

Women Lead Data is a weekly podcast hosted by Lindsay Murphy, Head of Data at Secoda. The podcast aims to share insights about the underrepresentation of women in leadership roles in data, uncover helpful tips and advice for progressing your career in data, understand what it takes to reach the C-level, and inspire women who are curious but not yet sure if this is the right career path for them. Join us for a live podcast episode with Julie Beynon, Head of Data at Census.

How an open-source data platform taught 100s about data engineering

A talk by: Tim Castillo, Data Engineer, Dagster Labs

When engineering teams deliver a great project or library, the question of "Should we open source this?" often arises. Data engineering is no exception to this rule of nature, but it can be difficult to open source data and analytics projects because of the risk of leaking sensitive information or bespoke business logic. Open source data platforms are the rising tide that lifts all ships by sharing invaluable wisdom, building goodwill, and accelerating the growth of the data community. This talk covers the existing art of open source data teams, and the processes and tooling it took to enable us to open source our own data platform. We’ll also cover our motivations to empower and educate the Python community on data engineering best practices.

This repository shows how a real B2B SaaS business does billing, marketing attribution, and telemetry analytics, along with explanations for why we chose certain design patterns. As data engineering continues to adopt more software engineering best practices, having an opensource repository of an organization that embraces it is invaluable for the community. Attendees will learn how to take inspiration and learn from open source data teams and leave with a pragmatic set of skills and resources to adopt best practices in building data engineering and machine learning platforms.

Elevating data literacy in small businesses

A talk by: Karen Hsieh , Director of Tech & Data, ALPHA Camp

This presentation is specifically designed for beginner and mid-level data professionals. It's highly beneficial for those eager to chart a clear path for career growth amidst the dynamic landscape of data-related work.


  • Understanding the Growth Trajectory: Attendees will learn about the progression from being the sole data expert to collaborating effectively within a team and eventually engaging with the broader data community.
  • Insights into a Rewarding Path: The presentation will delve into why this career trajectory is fulfilling and how each of these three stages – individual contribution, team collaboration, and community involvement – offers unique opportunities for professional development and advancement.
  • Practical Growth Strategies: Participants will gain actionable insights on navigating each step of their career path, with a focus on leveraging opportunities, overcoming challenges, and developing the necessary skills to excel in the evolving world of data.

Skills data professionals really need

A talk by: Monica Kay Royal , Founder, nerdnourishment

We will be sharing the most critical skills that data professionals use on a daily basis which almost everyone already has in their toolbelt. This talk will be especially helpful for folks that are interested in a data career as they will learn how they can highlight their existing skills to help them transition into the data field.

Join us at MDS Fest from April 8 - 12 to explore the cutting edge of data-driven strategies, and take home actionable insights that could redefine the future of your career. Get your tickets at mdsfest.com today.

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