Presented By
O’Reilly + Cloudera
Make Data Work
March 25-28, 2019
San Francisco, CA
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Creating a data engineering culture at USAA

Jesse Anderson (Big Data Institute), Thomas Goolsby (USAA)
2:40pm3:20pm Thursday, March 28, 2019
Culture and organization
Location: 2007
Average rating: ***..
(3.67, 6 ratings)

Who is this presentation for?

  • CxOs, VPs, directors, managers, and team leads



What you'll learn

  • Learn how USAA created a data engineering culture


Data science is all the rage, but what happens when there isn’t a data engineering organization? USAA had a large and established data science organization, but it wasn’t able to fulfill all of the promises of big data. The data scientists were spending the majority of their time dealing with data quality issues or trying to create their own data pipelines—not the core competency of the data scientist. And when the complexity of data pipelines exceeded data scientists’ abilities, they had to stop.

Jesse Anderson and Thomas Goolsby explain what happened at USAA without data engineering, how they fixed it, and the results since. Creating data engineering culture started at the top of USAA’s management and included showing management how data engineering is different from data science and software engineering. Jesse and Thomas then worked with human resources to create the actual data engineer title and started creating the teams and hiring data engineers.

Since companies around the world quickly encounter a shortage of data engineers, they decided to look internally for software engineers with right makings for a data engineer. This involved giving the teams the right training, tools, and mentoring to become data engineers.

Topics include:

  • What it looks like when you don’t have a data engineering culture
  • Why it’s crucial to have a data engineering culture
  • How to educate management about the need for data engineering
  • How to find internal resources and make them data engineers
Photo of Jesse Anderson

Jesse Anderson

Big Data Institute

Jesse Anderson is a data engineer, creative engineer, and managing director of the Big Data Institute. Jesse trains employees on big data—including cutting-edge technology like Apache Kafka, Apache Hadoop, and Apache Spark. He’s taught thousands of students at companies ranging from startups to Fortune 100 companies the skills to become data engineers. He’s widely regarded as an expert in the field and recognized for his novel teaching practices. Jesse is published by O’Reilly and Pragmatic Programmers and has been covered in such prestigious media outlets as the Wall Street Journal, CNN, BBC, NPR, Engadget, and Wired. You can learn more about Jesse at

Photo of Thomas Goolsby

Thomas Goolsby


Thomas Goolsby is data and analytics director at USAA, where he focuses on member interaction data and research with universities to help provide new insights and build pipelines of talent.