Humans of Wizeline: John Sánchez

Humans of Wizeline: John Sánchez

Navigating the Data Ecosystem: John Sanchez’s Inspiring Journey

As a Staff Data Engineer at Wizeline, John Sanchez has been knee-deep in data for the past year and a half. But for John, data is more than a job. It’s a passion that pushes him forward daily. Still, John isn’t just about bits and bytes. His world revolves around wife and their two daughters. Their partnership and his fatherhood  adventures serve as his daily muse, pushing him to reach higher. 

John’s Path to Systems Engineering

John’s story begins in Soacha, a lively city near Bogotá, Colombia. His childhood was filled with action and exploration in the bustling local “barrio.” Here, John’s curiosity soared, drawing him toward mathematics, chemistry, biology, and even a sprinkle of philosophy. Those formative years in Soacha were the building blocks that helped shape the dedicated professional John is today.

For John, his early school years helped fuel a fascination with mathematics. There were pivotal moments when he stood out, like when he clinched the top score on the Instituto Colombiano para la Evaluación de la Educación National (ICFES) exams for both High School and University.

Fresh out of high school, John was set on pursuing either chemistry or industrial engineering. Financial constraints and the fierce competition for public university spots guided him to the Escuela Tecnologica Instituto Tecnico Central.

Initially intent on enrolling in a program for process engineering, he eventually made the switch to systems engineering.

Juggling the roles of being an employee by day and a student by night, he became part of an innovative study method known as propaedeutic cycles. By the end of 2011, he was the proud recipient of two degrees, qualifying him as a professional systems technician and systems technologist. His academic journey continued at the Universidad Central de Bogotá, culminating with a degree in systems engineering by the end of 2014.

From Support Technician to Data Engineering Leader

Shortly after acquiring his first degree, John began a four-year stint as a support technician. This phase, which centered around technical hardware, infrastructure, and networking intricacies, was one of growth and determination. Frequent delays caused by the lengthy commutes while balancing work, study, and personal commitments underscored his early career. However, this challenging time also helped instill a profound respect for his profession and taught him the importance of being detail oriented and responsible. 

Seeking a fresh challenge in 2013, John stepped into the healthcare industry in a role integrating software development and database administration. Delving into extract, transform, and load (ETL) processes and utilizing tools like PHP, JavaScript, Ajax, and PostgreSQL, John welcomed the new challenge and the opportunity to learn. As he traversed the unfamiliar world of ETL, this role helped cement his passion for data engineering.

The following years saw John on the move, both professionally and geographically. He traveled through Colombia and ventured into countries like Mexico, El Salvador, and Guatemala, honing his expertise in ETL processes, reporting, and dashboard development. 

In late 2018, the promise of cloud computing and the allure of the big data trend called him. John immersed himself in Colombian communities — especially in Medellin and Bogotá —, expanding his network and his growing appetite for data engineering. The key turning point of his journey was in 2019, when a startup came calling and prompted him to leave the security of a well-established company. 

John’s startup experience emphasized growth and learning, where he faced a number of challenges, including collaborating with C-level executives, navigating the fintech labyrinth, and leading a remote team during the pandemic.

He juggled communicating in English as well as navigating the vast expanses of cloud computing (AWS, GCP). John strongly believes that one year at a startup equates to 3-4 years in a traditional job, and provides a rich learning experience.  

The Power of Alignment: Professional Transformation at Wizeline

While navigating LinkedIn in late 2021, John saw that Wizeline had onboarded a colleague from his previous company’s Data Science team. While LinkedIn often buzzes with job transitions and industry news, there was something particularly interesting about Wizeline. 

Their reputation for innovation, their culture of collaboration, and their significant work with tech transformation captured John’s attention.  These were more than just company attributes; they were values he deeply identified with. So, he received a message from Wizeline’s recruitment team, it was a no-brainer for John to answer the call. 

John’s contributions to internal and external projects have consistently redefined his skill set and perspective. While the projects have been stimulating, the company’s nurturing environment and culture have helped push him to innovate. According to John, every brainstorming session and collaborative project feels like a refreshing gust of wind, compelling him to think outside the box and venture beyond his comfort zone.

Professional growth is a two-way street. It’s as much about imparting knowledge as it is about absorbing it. At Wizeline, he has been privileged to wear both hats — that of a mentor and a mentee. Engaging in workshops, diving into conferences, and indulging in the satisfaction of knowledge exchanges with his peers have been monumental in his journey. 

Yet, what elevates these experiences most is the community with whom he shares them. The Wizeline team, full of dedicated professionals, has transformed work into more of a quest for excellence. Together, they motivate, challenge, and support one another, turning their respective professional journeys into shared adventures of growth and self-discovery.

Pushing Through: Rising Above Professional and Personal Challenges

John’s professional life has been punctuated by significant challenges and milestones. At the heart of one defining period was the task of centralizing data from a conglomerate of hotels spread across various countries. 

This was no simple technical endeavor. The complex challenges included the geographical diversity of the hotels, many nestled in remote coastal areas with precarious network connectivity. The project also involved physically traveling to these locations, retrieving data from the source, and devising inventive strategies for seamless migration. This journey of discovery and innovation marked John’s first foray into cloud services, the versatility and adaptability of which became a game-changer for him.

But life often presents unexpected challenges that test us in unimaginable ways.  For John, a heart-wrenching personal trial came with the tragic passing of he and his wife’s first child. Such profound grief can be incapacitating. Yet, with unwavering faith and the love and support of those around him, John and his wife found the strength to push through. The subsequent birth of their daughters brought them renewed hope and a new zest for life. Their names embody life and grace and are a testament to the couple’s healing and rediscovery.

Meanwhile, John’s aspiration to be recognized as a thought leader sees him continually challenging himself, stepping out of his comfort zone, and embracing risks. His ambitions don’t just rest with achieving professional recognition; they extend to his entrepreneurial vision of integrating advanced data processing and AI for meaningful causes.

John’s holistic approach to growth is what sets him apart. His recent interest in theology, a path he’s chosen not just for personal gain but to contribute to the larger good, speaks to his commitment to professional excellence and personal enrichment. Through these endeavors, he seeks to expand his technical prowess with aid from a deep sense of spirituality.

Final Reflections on Growth and Purpose

John’s journey reminds us all that life combines challenges and triumphs. From his early days in Soacha to his present-day pursuits in data engineering and theology, his story is about finding purpose, pushing limits, and learning from every experience. John has remained committed to his personal and professional growth through both highs and lows. His work in the tech world and his perseverance show that it’s possible to effectively balance career aspirations with our passions and personal lives. 

As he continues to learn and grow, John shares the following advice for fellow tech professionals looking to escalate their career:

  • Embrace continuous learning: The tech world is ever-evolving. Stay hungry and stay updated.
  • Seek out diverse experiences: New internal or external challenges are hidden treasures. Seek them out and let them shape you.
  • Forge strong bonds: Relationships within and outside the company are your bridges to opportunities. Cultivate them.
  • Welcome feedback: Growth lies in introspection. Constructive criticism is your mirror. Embrace it and evolve.
  • Stay proactive: Don’t just wait for opportunities; create them. Your ideas and initiatives are the driving force behind team and company success.

Maria Jose Rodriguez de la Garza

Posted by Maria Jose Rodriguez de la Garza on August 14, 2023