A Latin American R community for HR

By August 30, 2021September 1st, 2021Blog

By Sergio Garcia Mora

R4HR, formerly known as the Club de R para RRHH, is a Latin American based community whose mission is to spread the adoption of R in Human Relations (HR), trying to make it as simple and engaging as possible, and most importantly, in Spanish, our own language.

R4HR is holding their first R Consortium meetup on September 4th!

This post is contributed by Sergio Garcia Mora. Sergio is an “HR NeRd” with a bachelor in Labour Relations UBA with a postgraduate course on Data Science applied to Social Sciences UNSAM. Sergio is the founder of R4HR and Data 4HR, and works as a SME of People Analytics at Data IQ. He is a People Analytics teacher at ITBA and is soon to become a Data Carpentry Certified Instructor.

From Sergio: “A fact about me: Data shows that I have a lot in common with Keanu Reeves.”

My relationship with R hasn’t been linear. As a matter of fact, one of the reasons why I chose to study Labor Relations is that it’s a numbers-free career as a career that has not many subjects related to maths, algebra and those kind of subjects (I like to joke that Labor Relations is like Human Resources but more hippie). Life is funny because nowadays I’m known in the People Analytics field in Argentina.

My first contact with R was in 2016 when I joined the Data Mining Master Course of the University of Buenos Aires, where R was the go-to language for most of my peers. As someone that didn’t have a background in coding or in computer science I struggled a lot trying to keep pace with my peers. Then I started to develop an entrepreneurial project and decided to delegate all the coding and technical job to my partner and I will focus more on the functional aspects of the job. So for a couple of years I didn’t write any line of code at all.

Late in 2019 I joined a BI company in Buenos Aires, called Data IQ, with such a stimulating environment, with great people, excellent professionals and a challenging environment. So, after a couple of months I started to think what can I give that was different and fresh for my team, apart from my knowledge in HR and People Analytics. So like the natural career path for BI developers is to grow towards Data Science, I thought it would be a good idea to try to learn R and bring that knowledge to the table. And it ended up not only being a good idea, but a great one.

I chose to learn R first because the code syntax is more straightforward to understand for me. And also the R community is simply awesome, specially the Latin American chapters from Argentina to Mexico, they all are very supportive and inclusive, and they all create safe and welcoming environments.

So there I was again, my R script and me face to face. Even though I can speak English and I’m comfortable with reading in this language, not everyone in Latin America is this lucky. And the other barrier I had to struggle with was the technical jargon. There a a lot of free resources but most of them are aimed at highly technical people, or to an academic audience. And the third problem I had was finding HR data. So my problems were dealing with a language that wasn’t my own, with a jargon that I don’t understand, and with data that doesn’t make sense to me.

So in May 2020 the Club de R para RRHH was born. I always remember Richard Feyman’s quote “The best way to learn something is to teach it” so that was one of my drivers.

R4HR is a project that was born in the pandemics, and thanks to it, I still can’t believe the reach we have. In our community you can find people from Argentina, Chile, Peru, Uruguay, Paraguay, Panama, USA, Spain and even France and with so many different backgrounds, HR, Psychology, Economics, Statistics, and many more.

During most of 2020 we ran our sessions on a weekly basis. And we used to charge a fee to be part of it.First because I used to think that people wouldn’’t value free stuff, and secondly, once a month we used to invite a R expert to teach us something, so we payed them for their time.

We were fortunate enough to have people like Pablo Tiscornia, Pablo Casas, Ana Laura Diedrichs, Hernán Escudero, Angie Scetta, and Paola Corrales sharing content about survey analysis, exploratory data analysis, git, Shiny, geospatial analysis, and publishing your analysis from RMarkdown to blogdown. So, our Google Drive is being filled with such priceless content.

And the community started to develop in such an organic and genuine way that still amazes me, so then it was when we decided to open all our content, and embrace the same values of the R community: openness, solidarity, safety, and high end content in an inclusive environment. And late in 2020 all of our content and our meetups are free.

So, we have content in our own language, with a jargon adapted to our backgrounds and practices, but we still lack data. So, inspired on an open salary survey developed a tech-community, SysArmy, we launched in October our first HR Salary KIWI Survey for Latam (KIWI stands for Key Investigation of Wages and Incomes after joking about ridiculous perks sometimes we see in job postings), and we have run the analysis on our own that everyone can see online and the data is available who anyone that wants to use it.

Nowadays we try to gather on a monthly basis, more people have embarked in the organizing team, and it’s so great to see the impact it has in some people, from welcome anyone and become part of the group, people finding new and better jobs, and making friends in places where nobody would have ever expected.

It’s been one of the most amazing journeys  I’ve been to. And now being part of the R Consortium is such a satisfying milestone for our young community.