Zoe Douglas knew she wanted a career in computers after helping a neighbor install a new software. Growing up in rural Australia, computers were not as prevalent and Zoe didn’t spend much time with them until she was 13 years old. But that project immediately drew her into the intelligence and complexity of computer science.
Zoe’s mother managed sheep and cattle stations across Australia, moving often between East Gippsland mountains, the Outback and other rural areas. The stations were off the grid — powered by a generator and with no internet or computer.
Zoe, growing up in the outback on a rural sheep station in 6th grade.
“I went to university for computer science and programming, but then I got a job focused on data analytics, and I never looked back,” Zoe said. “Data analytics merges development, design and the understanding of data. That makes it really interesting, challenging and rewarding to work with.”
Now a data analytics and visualization expert, Zoe joined Blueprint in January 2020 as a Business Intelligence Engineer in the South Central region of the U.S. With the same love of helping others understand technology she had as a child, Zoe quickly began helping her coworkers overcome tough technology hurdles on key projects. Recognizing Zoe’s leadership qualities, Blueprint tapped her to lead the region’s team of seven BI Engineers as the Development Manager of Business Intelligence Engineering. In that position, she will lead Blueprint’s BI Engineers and continue to develop the BI practice at Blueprint.
Zoe is a Power BI Super User. She has not only worked with Power BI since its release, but she also worked with its predecessors — and Excel before that.
She is passionate about helping clients identify ways they can leverage their data to create actionable insights. She has a knack for listening to a client’s vision and masterfully turning it into reality. Zoe says the most successful engagements for her are those where she works closely with the client to make it as easy as possible for them to get the business intelligence they may not even realize they want or need. She imbeds herself in the organization to learn how they currently operate, what data they access regularly and how they use it, searching out the key details that allow her to make their jobs easier.
“You have to make sure the data is good and accurate,” she said. “But making it accessible and usable for the end-user, that’s my passion and the whole point of my job.”
Zoe’s travel as a child was not limited to moving between Australian sheep and cattle stations. Her family moved to Alaska when she was a teenager, and Zoe has chosen to move frequently as an adult as well. She calculated it once and found that she moved on average every 9 months from when she was born to the age of 30. But those frequent moves, and the experience of growing up in a very rural environment, made her adaptable and flexible, allowing her to shift focus quickly and easily.
“That’s very helpful when working with so many clients and bouncing between different industries. I don’t come in with any preconceived assumptions,” Zoe said. “You can’t pigeonhole organizations into what you think is going to be good for them. You have to listen to what they want and what their business requirements are, always keeping an open mind.”
Zoe’s adaptability, flexibility and her love of guiding coworkers and clients alike through a data visualization journey represent the diversity of thought Blueprint looks for in its employees. Diversity of thought and experience fuels success, and the way Zoe approaches her work and the challenge of leading a new team has had a profound impact on Blueprint and its clients, particularly in the South Central region where Zoe is based.
Those skills are perfect for working in Power BI, too. The program is constantly being updated and improved and has a host of scenarios available for any given project. The flexibility and breadth of choice of Power BI, while opening up numerous powerful options and possibilities, can be overwhelming for many, especially if they are trying to navigate the program themselves. That is where Zoe thrives.
“With my background, I’ve encountered most scenarios and I can explain the nuances of each decision for the clients, so we make the right choices early, eliminating possible rework that would come later,” Zoe said. “Each project is different; you can’t come in and do the same thing every time. Every solution is tailored to the specific situation and needs of the customer.”