Sergio García Mora, founder and organizer of the R4HR Club de R para RRHH, gives us a deep dive into the success of the R community in Buenos Aires, a community that was born in the middle of the pandemic and that three years after its foundation has expanded throughout Argentina and now reaching a global audience with their online webinars. Sergio also describes his first experience with R and the great benefits that the language has brought to the development of his work as a Human Resources specialist.
Sergio García Mora has a degree in Labour Relations and is a student in a master’s degree program for Data Mining, both from the UBA (Universidad de Buenos Aires). He has extensive experience in the area of Human Resources, being a specialist in the development of People Analytics projects, working with data, indicators, and graphs that allow companies to improve their performance, differentiate themselves and be highly competitive. Since 2020 he has been part of the teaching staff of the People Analytics Diploma at the Instituto Tecnológico de Buenos Aires (ITBA), the same year in which he founded the R4HR Club de R para RRHH. He is currently working as an internal consultant in Workforce Analytics, specializing in everything related to Human Resources metrics. Beyond work, Sergio enjoys spending time with his wife and daughter, playing basketball with his friends, and watching online TV series and movies.
Why did you personally get interested in learning R? How do you use it in your work? What do you do when you’re not programming?
SG: My interest in R was a coincidence. Years ago I found a master’s degree in Data Science, in which several professors proposed the use of licensed tools to solve certain exercises. Most of my classmates opted to use R. They also used Python, although to a lesser extent. Without real guidance, I just dug deeper into learning R. At first, it was difficult and I preferred to use other programs such as RapidMiner with drag-and-drop modules, which I thought did the job in a simplified way, although the reality was that in the long run, it was more complicated, since in real life I had to make many changes, such as adding filters or correcting certain categories. Later I realized that if I learned to code, the task became really simple.
In 2020 was when my knowledge of the language increased and got better because in that year I started working in a BI (Business Intelligence) company and as a consultant mainly interested in the Human Resources area, I noticed that if I applied R for data analysis, I could be more competitive and contribute with something different to the team.
For me R is a language with a simple and agile syntax, which does not have many restrictions in the formality of the code, likewise, the community, in general, is made up of very supportive and open people, always willing to share knowledge, that is why I have chosen R over other programming languages and the use I give it in my work has given excellent results.
In the work environment, I could divide the use of R in two ways, the complex part and the simple and repetitive part. On the complex side, I focus on doing a lot of data transformations and more sophisticated statistical analysis. For example, I am currently working on a geospatial analysis project, where I am looking at how far employees travel to different work locations.
On the other hand, the simple part involves the application of the language for more mundane things, such as reporting completion rates of some mandatory trainings where I simply generate a script, update the data source if necessary, and get to the execution, ready to use.
What is the R community like in Buenos Aires, Argentina? What was most surprising to you about the community?
SG: Something I have noticed about the R community in Buenos Aires is that it is very decentralized, by this I mean that the organizing group is all over the place. We have two people from Buenos Aires, one in Córdoba and others in Corrientes, in spite of this, there is an incredible mix of enthusiasm, intelligence, and a sense of humor. This definitely makes all the phases of the projects enjoyable.
Who comes to these meetups? What industries do you see more in Buenos Aires?
SG: The industries we see in Buenos Aires are in the public and private sectors. Our work with the public sector is mainly based on solving problems involving the handling of large volumes of data and files, while the private sector is more focused on career development in the world of people analytics.
How has COVID affected your ability to connect with members? What techniques (Github, zoom, other) have you used to connect and collaborate with members? Can these techniques be used to make your group more inclusive to people that are unable to attend physical events in the future?
SG: It is important to mention that our community was born in COVID times, therefore, from our beginnings, all communication has been through platforms such as Zoom and other asynchronous channels including Slack and Telegram. We also make use of certain social networks like Twitter and LinkedIn.
Despite the great challenges that the pandemic brought with it, I believe that the community was resilient enough, and the benefits we gained from this situation would not have been the same as they would have been in person. Thanks to this, we currently have the presence of people from different countries and provinces, who are an active part of the community and not just listeners of a talk.
Our reach would not have been the same without the use of these tools. Therefore, for logistical reasons, we will continue to use them to communicate remotely, especially in a city as big as Buenos Aires.
What trends do you see in R language over the next year?
On a personal note, and observing my field of work, it has happened to me that my clients ask me for reports and delivered them in R through Markdown, but later they ask me to present the work in other formats, such as Excel or PowerPoint, so a possible change for this could be to look for resources to develop the work in R in Markdown and output it directly to Office.
What is your favorite R event that you have attended? From a small meetup to a big conference!
SG: Outside of the events that we organize, I really like the R Ladies groups from LATAM and R in Baires. I also consume offline content by watching conferences on a topic that interests me, such as Posit or R User to name a few.
Of the Funded Projects by the R Consortium, do you have a favorite project? Why is it your favorite?
SG: Definitely everything that has to do with GapAnalysis is of great interest to me, as this kind of analysis allows me to differentiate between what is really going on or whether it is just presumption, in a manner of speaking.
Of the Active Working Groups, which is your favorite? Why is it your favorite?
SG: My favorites are, as I mentioned before, R Ladies and I would add R Business and R Repositories, which I also think are amazing.
When is your next event? What are your plans for the group for the coming year? Please give details!
SG: We will keep doing our HR Salary Survey, we expect to develop a Shiny app soon. Regarding events, we do not have anything confirmed yet, but it is possible that we will have an interview with the people from Data Genero, on the other hand, as I teach at the Instituto Tecnológico de Buenos Aires (ITBA), we are seeing if we can do a hybrid meeting with the community in the second half of March.
Finally, I would like to take this space to invite anyone who wants to join us and wants to work with the community, you are always welcome!
How do I Join?
R Consortium’s R User Group and Small Conference Support Program (RUGS) provides grants to help R groups around the world organize, share information and support each other. We have given grants over the past four years, encompassing over 65,000 members in 35 countries. We would like to include you! Cash grants and meetup.com accounts are awarded based on the intended use of the funds and the amount of money available to distribute. We are now accepting applications!