Student profile: Derek Byers

Name: Derek Byers
Location: Cape Town, South Africa
Age: 45
Job title: Business reporting manager

Derek Byers is much too hard on himself. He didn’t know what he wanted to do with his life at an early age and envied those who did. He wasn’t a good student and skipped university, choosing to travel the world for a few years instead. By the time he returned home to Cape Town, he felt “too old to study” and dabbled in various fields without finding his niche. Derek describes himself as a stubborn person who’s done things the hard way most of his life.

Derek should give himself much more credit. Now a married father of two daughters, he’s doing well in his career these days, and he’s gotten this far on the strength of his self-taught skills. “All too late in life I figured out you could learn things and do it quicker,” he says, but studying wasn’t something that came naturally in his school days. Back then, “I wanted to have fun and play sports. I didn’t want to bury my nose in a book,” he recalls. “Today, I’m completely the opposite. All I want to do now is study.” Udemy is his resource of choice when it comes to seeking out new skills and knowledge.

His youthful travel days were followed by years of job-hopping, but eventually Derek worked his way up to management roles, including a 10-year stint in the cellular industry and some dabbling in building websites. For almost five years, he’s been with a company that manufactures and distributes products for the surface preparation industry. He came on board as a project manager but has learned his way into a position as a business reporting manager, which is basically another name for data analyst.

Derek’s always had a passion for numbers and problem-solving, and Udemy has been the key to putting hard skills around them. He secured his current job because he’d been learning Excel, SQL, and data analysis on his own before the position even became available. For Derek, numbers just make sense (1+1=2, right?), but he also knows people get swamped by the flood of information and data generated in our digital world. He was curious to find ways of working more efficiently with data to gain insights that would drive smarter decision making.

When Derek was referred to Udemy by a friend, he readily abandoned the subscription-based online learning vendor he’d been using previously. He preferred having the freedom to watch videos when he was ready and his schedule allowed, rather than feeling pressure to get his money’s worth every month.

First and foremost, Derek was thrilled with the series of “Power Pivot Workshop” courses, beginner through advanced, offered by instructors Alberto Ferrari and Marco Russo, whom Derek already knew from “all over the internet” and considers “the godfathers of data and analysis.” These courses were direct and to the point, and the instructors’ delivery “just flows,” without any awkward pauses or amateurish fumbling. Another beneficial course was “SQL for Newbs: Beginner Data Analysis,” taught by two Udemy employees. “They exude fun and made learning an exciting adventure,” Derek says.

While Derek’s employer does offer some training opportunities (he’s currently in a 10-week business systems analyst program), he’s “happy to invest in myself” by taking Udemy courses independently. Yes, the one-time “naughty, stubborn young guy” is now well on his way to being a data specialist, with the aim of eventually becoming a qualified business systems analyst and business intelligence consultant. Meanwhile, he’s already a role model for lifelong learning and self-motivation. He advises others to try online courses too: “Even if it’s just one or two things, you’re going to learn something new, and it could make a world of difference.”