Our first Community Champion honoree is far more than a data integration ace. He’s a community builder, an eternal student, a musical aficionado, and an all-around great guy.
It’s only fitting that our first Talend Community Champion is someone who loves to learn, build, and expand his horizons—and someone who enjoys helping others do the same.
Richard Hall is one of the Talend Community’s most prolific and most highly ranked contributors, with 700+ posts since May of 2015 and more than 190 kudos from other members. He’s gotten to know many of you over the past couple of years, and now it’s time for you to get to know him a little better.
With more than 10 years of data integration experience, Richard really knows his stuff—but the evolution of his career has been a “complete accident,” as he put it.
Originally he wanted to go to drama school, with a dream of performing in musicals. To help fund that aspiration, he took a job in IT support at a corporation—and discovered he was not only good at it but also enjoyed it.
He soon transitioned to IT reporting, which required high-quality data, and so he learned how to build and scrub his own data sets. During a short break in his career, he went to university to study Artificial Intelligence. On re-entering the world of data, he was able to make use of his newly acquired AI and heuristics skills, and started to get interested in how to use a wide range of commercial and open-source database tools.
Because of his experience with application and data integration, Richard was contacted by Talend in 2012 and offered a job. He joined the company because he had a longstanding interest in open-source tools and technologies, and because he saw potential in the solutions Talend was developing. While at Talend he worked in professional services, and his input was useful in creating new features and functions in Talend Open Studio.
Richard left Talend in 2014 to launch his own consulting business, Rilhia Solutions, which is based in Surrey, UK. Rilhia is focused on bringing application and data integration solutions to small and medium-sized businesses.
“Talend was a great experience for me, and one of the things I learned there was that I really like helping organizations get things done,” he said.
“Nudging,” Not Instructing
Richard also discovered that he enjoys helping others—novices and experts alike—learn about data integration tools and techniques, particularly in the open source realm.
“I get a lot of satisfaction from nudging people in the right direction,” he said. “I’m not really a teacher—I don’t feel I’ve got the patience to be a teacher—but I do like helping to build a community.”
Richard is particularly passionate about advancing the causes and capabilities of open source software. “With open source, I can take it home and learn it on my own, rather than going through a formal corporate training program that’s filled with business examples,” he said. “You can really get your teeth into open source projects and make use of the software for your own purposes.”
He also vehemently disagrees with the perception that open source is less refined than commercial products, or not “enterprise-ready.”
“If you look at what’s happening with open source data integration you have to say these guys are at the very top of the game,” he said. “Open source benefits from a mix of skills and backgrounds and insights that closed-source environments just don’t have access to, and the result is something that’s more sophisticated than commercial products. And I think savvy enterprise IT leaders understand that. You can see it in the higher adoption rates for Talend and other open source software, and in the increase of paid subscriptions for enterprise support.”
Integrating Eclectic Tastes
Data isn’t the only thing Richard spends his time integrating today. He is a man of many interests, and reconciling all of them is no small task. For example, even finding the right balance between working on projects and learning new tools and techniques can be nettlesome, he says.
“It’s tough to make the choice between being on-site for a customer—pushing to get an important project done right and on time—and staying at home to learn a new feature in a data integration tool,” he said. “That’s why I like working with small businesses. Their projects are more interesting, more manageable, and really, really important to them.”
Richard also likes to consider the potential for data integration in the years ahead. “The possibilities are endless, and it’s really exciting,” he said. “Think of the impact on healthcare, where you can leverage data to cure and prevent diseases. We’re just scratching the surface of what’s possible there. And the same is true in pretty much every industry, every form of entertainment, everything we do every day. When we learn how to use all of the data that’s available sensibly, it will be astounding.”
And while the allure of drama school may have been supplanted by the satisfactions of solving problems for clients and Community members, Richard is still quite fond of musical theatre.
“I’m probably the only data integration guy on the planet who can recite every word of Les Miserables,” he said. “And I should mention that my girlfriend is giving me a very strange look from the other room right now as I tell you that.” No worries. It’s reassuring to know that someone with that degree of technical proficiency, open source expertise, and business acumen is also quite… human.
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