The Commons Digest (09/06/2022)

The COmmons Insider Newsletter

In this week’s issue...

3 Reasons You Should Learn SQL

Learning at The Commons

Events: Strategic Finance Primer + Toronto IRL Mixer
Sprint Applications: Strategic Finance + Core

Your Weekly Level Up

✏️ Practice Interview Question: Performing a task where you had no previous experience

✅ Community Reccos: Sup bot

💭 Thought Starter: Asking for a salary raise post-company restructuring

💡Brain Teaser

🚀 Community Share: A chef's kiss LinkedIn profile


3 Reasons Why You Should Learn SQL

The Commons' mentor, Fairuz (Strategy & Operations at Dolly, ex-corporate strategy at Great West Life and Strategy Associate at PwC) shared why it's so important for strategic business roles to learn SQL. Here's a summary of what he had to say ⬇️

So why is SQL becoming table stakes?

Well besides adding another capability to your resume, it will help you improve as a strategist and/or operator.

SQL enables you to work more autonomously and quickly

In strategy and ops roles, you’ll be working cross-functionally with various teams including product, sales, finance, and specifically data science teams. Without knowing SQL, your hands are typically tied as you are waiting for the data science team to pull your data. In a fast-paced company, data science teams likely have their own mandates, which make you reliant on their timelines. Being able to use SQL gives you autonomy to pull data independently, in the specific lens you’re after, which is vital when operating in a fast-paced environment. Pulling data yourself will also give you a better understanding of what you’re seeking and ultimately allow you to focus more time on articulating the “so what” of your analysis.

SQL gives you a stronger overall analytics toolkit

Whether it's Excel, Google Sheets, or SQL, every tool has their best use cases and limitations. Having the full suite of tools at your fingertips better equips you to tackle any limitations and get to your result faster. For example, while Excel is great for relatively small to medium sets of data, as it is far more difficult (and likely prone to crashing) when working with millions of rows of data scattered across different reports. As a strategist or operator, you’ll frequently be required to segment large sets of data to identify initiatives that can improve the business. However by using SQL functions such as JOIN, you can get past the frustrating hiccups from excel quite quickly.

Learning SQL is the gateway into other tools and eventually opportunities

I personally found it relatively easier to jump into other tools such as Looker, Tableau, or Python after building an expertise in SQL, as most tools build upon the foundational concepts you learn in Excel and SQL. Additionally, as data and analytics are becoming increasingly synonymous with business strategy, having a good strategic mindset along with any combination of these tools makes you versatile and invaluable to any company. Instantaneously, you become not only the person who has a good long-term strategic mindset but you can also be depended on as an analytical powerhouse to dive into the data, make quick changes and identify implications.

Okay, so what does that look like in practice? Here's a real use case shared by The Commons' mentor Sean Newman (Strategic Finance Manager at Alto Pharmacy, ex-Uber)

"SQL makes my job easier and it helps me stand out amongst other finance employees. With a robust knowledge of SUBQUERIES, WHERE clauses, and CASE WHEN logic, I can filter raw data down to the essential components. This prevents my files from crashing as they scale. At both Uber and Alto I very quickly was able to add value by creating an executive-level analytics dashboard with real time financials and user activity. This was all thanks to SQL." – Sean Newman, Data @Alto Pharmacy

Want to learn SQL in the most practical way?

The Commons' Core Sprint teaches you SQL, Google Sheets and Tableau in the context of a business problem. It's an interactive, cohort-based and mentor-led learning program that enables you to solve business problems that you would encounter as a strategist in tech. You learn SQL from people who use it every day (like Fairuz!), and get to leverage your new skills to deliver data-driven insights.

The Fall Core Sprint is filling up - apply here. Kickoff is Sept 19th!

Read the full post

What’s happening at The Commons

Upcoming events

Demystifying Strategic Finance
Join Strategic Finance mentor Megan Richards (StratFin at PartnerStack, ex-Kira Systems, ex-Ritual) for a primer of StratFin roles in tech.

This chat will include tips on how to leverage banking, accounting, and corporate finance skills to break into the field and time for Q&A

📍 Wednesday, September 7th @ 12PM EST | Virtual

👋 Open to all!

➡️ Sign up here

Toronto Mixer
Join us for a Speed Networking event followed by a mixer. Open to community members and friends!

📍Wednesday, September 14th @ 6PM EST - 10PM EST | Bathurst + Bloor

👋 Open to all - limited seats, so sign up asap!

➡️ Sign up here

Past events

ICYMI last week we hosted these events. Members, you can find the recordings of virtual events on our platform.

  • Recruiting Round Table: Advice for Job-Seekers with community members, Raza (BizOps at Webflow) and Ryan (Product Adoption at Plooto)

Application Deadline Alert!

Looking to join The Commons?

Your way in is through a Sprint. Apply to secure your seat below.

Strategic Finance Sprint

Tailored for finance + accounting professionals looking to pivot into tech, or those in a StratFin role who want to deliver more impact.

Less than 10 seats left! Kickoff is on Monday, September 19th.

💥 Learn more // Apply now

Core (BizOps) Sprint

You'll learn SQL, analysis, problem solving and data-driven recommendation building. Great for generalist roles in tech.

Less than 2 weeks left to apply. Kickoff is the week of September 19th.

💥 Learn more // Apply now

Sold out Sprints

  • Revenue Growth September 2022 (email us if you want to secure an early seat for Jan!)

View All Sprints

HOT TOPIC - Hiring Remote Employees for US Orgs

Discussions in The Commons are prolific. Here’s a highlight from our community thread on working remotely for US-based companies. 🇺🇸

It all started with this prompt: I'm looking at a remote role at a company that has not yet hired in Canada (but are open to it). They want to hire ASAP and are concerned about the time it may take to set up a non-US employee. Has anyone worked with or a similar vendor to set up Canadian employees for a US based company? What was your experience and how long did it take?

And here's what the community recommended (*please note these are independent recommendations and you should always consult tax / legal / accounting professionals as needed):

  • Megan: "I’m a non-US employee using Remote as my EOR. My boss said that it was a very fast process, and there’s a 1-year free promotion. On my end, I found the onboarding interface very straightforward. You’re assigned an onboarding specialist to answer any questions, and they were engaged and responsive. My health benefits are managed through Remote as well. It took a couple of days to get ramped up. Overall, a positive experience!"

  • Robyn: "I work as a contractor for an American company and am technically "self-employed" in Canada as a result. We did this because the whole EOR thing is more expensive and takes a good chunk of time. If the company is flexible with you and you're interested I'm happy to chat about this side of it as well!"

  • Steve: "I was hired through Canada Payroll Services. Low tech / low key but was seamless, at least on my end. Came with a health package - employers could choose between a basic and premium option."

  • David: "Deel is an excellent tool for hiring international employees. I have worked with it in the past. Typically you can turn around a contract in 24-48 hours as long as there are no amendments. I would estimate the total time on average to be 3-5 days before an employee is “ready-to-go”, but it could be quicker if everyone is aligned from the start regarding specifics (pay, time-off, IP, etc.). As stated above, EORs are more expensive, and some founders opt to go the contractor route and just add local benefits cost to the weekly pay to make up for not technically being an employee. There is some risk here though, in terms of the employee vs. contractor designation and best to consult legal counsel from the employer perspective."

  • Marc: "I was just recently employed using an Employer of Record, specifically Deel. Highly recommend! It's generally a very smooth process and if your new boss is on top of things, it can take only 2-3 days to setup. They charged a fee of $500 per month for me to be employed in the UK whilst my real-life employer was US based (it may differ for Canada).
    Beyond the obvious benefits of speed and not having to manage payroll and taxes,  your employer won't have employer liability in that justification (in your case Canada) through operating in a region they don't have a presence in -- it's a really important point that shouldn't be overlooked. $500/month is well worth the money."

Your weekly level up

Tell me about a time when you had to perform a task or work on a project you had no previous experience before?

Question type: Behavioral

What They're Testing For: Resourcefulness & ability to deal with ambiguity.

🌟 Tips:

  • Give brief context, outline how you evaluated the situation and articulate what you did to address the gap
  • It's useful to touch on why you took your approach - eg. in some instances, you may not have time to teach yourself something (say, SQL for an urgent customer data issue) so you may decide to leverage other resources given the time constraint / urgency (eg. influencing the data team to support). Other times, it might be more effective to demonstrate ownership and skill-building (eg. if you're tasked with building a dashboard or presentation, or conducting analysis that will likely be a skill you'll need to leverage again)
  • While demonstrating that you can take ownership and be self-taught is a strong skillset, remember that learning something on your own, from scratch isn't always the most resourceful path forward
  • Finally, share what you learned - this demonstrates a growth mindset

Join coffee chats with fellow community members via the sup bot!

Want to get randomly connected for coffee chats with other members of The Commons? Search for "sup" in direct messages. Then type "opt in" in the message. Send message.

You'll receive a success message: "Hi there [name], you're now opted into S'Up."

On a bi-weekly basis, you'll be paired with random community members for a coffee chat! Easy peasy relationship building! ☕️

Asking for a salary raise post-company restructuring?

Have you had to take on more workload after a company restructuring? Have you thought about negotiating a salary raise as a result? Here's a Q&A thread from last week:

Q: My company went through restructuring recently and luckily I wasn't affected, but most of my team was. As a result I'm going to be doing not just my role, but absorbing all the responsibilities of another manager in the upcoming weeks.Wondering based on those who may have gone through this experience if given the restructuring and increased job responsibilities, can this warrant a salary raise? If so, how should I approach them and when?

A: The general community consensus was "most definitely" to warranting a salary raise. As for timing, there were varying suggestions: 1) Waiting ~2 months for things to settle post-restructuring, 2) Aligning the timing with your company's existing performance reviews and salary conversations, 3) Negotiating the pay raise immediately, while you're confirming the new responsibilities.

What's your view? Let us know in Slack!

You are blindfolded and are sitting in front of a table. There are 100 coins on the table, 50 of them face up and 50 of them face down. How do you split them into 2 groups where both groups have the same number of coins face up and face down? You cannot feel the coin faces.

Check here for the answer!

A chef's kiss kind of LinkedIn profile 🤌 😂 ⬇️

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