An Introduction to R-Ladies Nashville – Using R in Supply Chain Analytics
Written by: Alex Curtis | Posted Jun 6, 2019

A Step Up from Summer Camp

imageAfter Monday’s visit to the NTC’s Rocketry and Spheros Summer Camp, I’ve been excited to attend other technology related events, particularly those that will expose me to unfamiliar concepts within the realms of computer science. Last night’s R-Ladies Nashville Meetup at our very own Tech Hill Commons did just that.

R-Ladies is a world-wide organization for the promotion of underrepresented R users, and the Nashville sector has hundreds of members. Around fifteen of them attended the meeting last night, part of which centered on networking and the rest a lecture on “Using R in Supply Chain Analytics,” presented by HealthTrust’s Director of Supply Chain Analytics Allison Baker. Admittedly, I had no idea what to expect going into the meeting seeing as I’ve never used the programming language R before, and I know little about it except that it is an excellent tool for data analysis. Additionally, besides the definition, I could tell you close to nothing about supply chain analytics. As I expected, there were a few parts of the lecture that were difficult for me to follow; nonetheless I was inspired by the intelligent, hardworking room full of successful women around me, and by the life lessons that they had to offer.

Who Are the R-Ladies?

imageThe R-Ladies Nashville group is not limited to its name. While it is primarily a group of women who use R in their jobs, most of whom were in the data science field, members come from all different backgrounds. Of last night’s attendees, one was a recent graduate of the Nashville Software School, and one a professor of that student. Also present was a young data analyst currently pursuing her PhD at Vanderbilt, in addition to a few Python users and users of entirely different languages as well. I was also glad to meet one male R user who came to support women in the R community. Despite their differences, I was amazed by this group of friends, colleagues, and strangers who came together with a shared passion for R.

Lessons from the R-Ladies

In addition to learning more about R, about supply chain analytics, and about the relationship between the two, I was pleased to gain several life lessons from the group, two of which stood out to me most:

  1. Always know what question you are trying to answer, and
  2. Do not close yourself off to criticism.

imageThe former relates more directly to data science, as most of the group agreed that as data scientists, it is critical to ask the business owners to clarify exactly what kind of data they are looking for, and to recognize that independent of your work, they might not be satisfied with the results of their data. The latter lesson is one more about life, and one that I hope to carry with me wherever I go: particularly as a woman, it is important not to shy away from criticism. In fact, welcoming and even inviting criticism, as Allison explained, might be the ultimate tool for growth and prosperity.

Next Up

The next event I plan to attend is the NTC Summer Party on June 11th. I’m looking forward to connecting with professionals from the technology community of Nashville, and to celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the NTC. Know of a tech-related event or usergroup meetup I should check out, tweet to @nashtechcouncil and let me know!