30 October 2015

Hafiz Adewuyi

Knowledge gap made my day

Right now, it's a few minutes to midnight. I've been continuously awake for the past nineteen hours and I still have enough energy to dole this out. The reason? Let's find out just "right after the cut" (using Linda Ikeji's words).

At about 10 a.m. today, while slugging through some mundane task at work, I got a request from a colleague about some challenge she had with extracting key data from an excel sheet. Now, I am totally lousy with excel, having never had formal training or a job that required any advanced excel skills of me.

The moment I got the spreadsheet and understood the required processing, I instantly left all I was doing and dove in head first, determined to learn some excel today. Now, on a normal day, I would have loaded this data into an SQL database and ran some group by to produce the required outcome. However, it needs no sage to let me know that approach (which I have used many times before today for similar work) is far from efficient, given the immense data manipulation power MS Excel comes with. Concisely, that would have been me attacking an ant with a sword.

Next, I had to find the fastest way to complete this job which I had committed to completing  before noon. Definitely not Google, I thought to myself. I felt like interacting with someone on this instead.

No one came to mind but Donald, my colleague who works in POS business and is acclaimed for his excel skills. I paid him a visit as soon as my client finished explaining her problem and ensured he was skilled enough to kill this one. About fifteen minutes after, I dragged him off of his busy office seat and we were at my desk cracking down on the job.

It was such an interesting session working together with Donald to achieve the set output. For one, he had to grope his way around a little before finding the menu required for the job. There were also some mini manipulations e.g. selecting first 'X' characters of a value for which I provided some input.

You won't believe it but I tell you, Donald used a VLOOKUP for selecting first 'X' characters of a word. I felt like knocking him. Of course, no one would use excel if there wasn't a simple formula to achieve something this basic. As the major facilitator of the session though, he had his way. We agreed that I would teach him later, as soon as I found out the formula for TRIMing characters off of a word, as he forbade me from doing a Google search while he was there.

What made the session so fulfilling that I was filled with ample energy to power me through the rest of my activities for the day was, I had practice questions. I actually had two separate reports to manipulate using the same procedure. So, since he was in a rush to round-up some work activities, he did only one for me and left me to apply my fresh knowledge on the second. I must admit this took a lot of groping around for me, say about ten extra minutes to produce the required results. Chiefly of course, because he was not explaining while working on the first report.

I finally got it and I felt like a true champion for the first time since last Wednesday. The lift in my mood was written all over me.

Guess what! When I was doing my practice question, I was able to achieve the TRIM which Donald had done using VLOOKUP() with a simple LEFT() formula. It didn't take me more than a minute to glean this formula off of Google and apply it to the report. As agreed, I returned to his office to let him know he made my day, even though I have something simple for him. I told him about LEFT() and he just had to concur that VLOOKUP() for the task he had used it for was overkill.

I really enjoy collaboration at work. I think I would be happier for it, if I could be in a role that requires me to  say, pair-program for a few hours each day. Or maybe I'm just lonely from not having a life and it's telling on me at work. Who knows, who knows?


1. Yay. My first complete blog post since I rejoined the daily grind last July. Hurray!!! Celebrate with me, oh ye non-existent readers/fans;

2. Phew. Right now, I want to be in my bed like yesterday. Oops, it's already today. The new work day. Friday. My super boss' probably favorite day of the week, where he gets to spank the bad children and give kudos to the good ones.

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31 October 2015 at 19:45 delete

Maybe compared to Linda, your readers are non existent, but then its not all about the numbers. Some of us even get alerts via Google Now each time u create a new post!

1 November 2015 at 18:46 delete

:D I'm grinning from cheek to cheek. Thanks.