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Community Award Recipient
Karen Hsieh

Karen Hsieh

Director of Tech & Data, ALPHA Camp
Location: Taipei, Taiwan


I’m a Product Manager who builds company-wide data literacy and empowers the product team to create values for people and grow the company. Utilizing dbt, I replaced time-consuming spreadsheets by creating key business metric dashboards that improved data literacy, enabling conversations about product and business. Since joining the dbt community in 2019, I’ve led the creation of the #local-taiwan dbt Slack channel, organized 10 Taipei dbt Meetups and spoken at Coalesce 2022. I write about how data empowers products on Medium. I focus on understanding how users utilize and think about the product based on facts.

When did you join the dbt community and in what way has it impacted your career?

As a Product Manager with a passion for data, I began using dbt in 2019 when it was introduced to me by Richard Lee, CTO & co-founder of We were likely one of the first companies in Taiwan to use dbt and as the sole dbt model writer in our startup, I worked with BigQuery, dbt plus Metabase, with the occasional use of Data Studio (now Looker Studio).

I joined the dbt Slack community to connect with others who use dbt and found the forum to be more informative than formal documentation. Viewing that documentation is formal. Viewing the questions from people is real! I love the sense of community that is built around building things together.

dbt demonstrates how I want to build products—by creating a direct connection between the users and those who build the product. I conduct user interviews in a style that resembles chatting with friends who share similar interests. This approach encourages me to get to know users more directly.

In January 2022, Laurence Chen (REPLWARE) and a friend asked me if I knew anyone else in Taiwan using dbt, which inspired me to request and maintain a local channel for the Taiwan community in the dbt Slack, #local-taipei. I had no prior experience with community-building and wasn't an engineer, but I searched the #introductions channel and found Allen Wang (Zitara Technologies). With him and Laurence, we got started on organizing our first meetup in Taiwan. Aftering running a few successful meetups on our own, we got in touch with dbt Labs, and are now the official Taiwan dbt Meetup organizers. We have now run 10 meetups in total, with two more planned in May and June 2023. We've never actively sought to increase membership, but the meetups have continued to grow and attract passionate people who are always willing to share their experiences. (See more about the story here.)

Through dbt, I've learned that people are friendly and willing to help when asked. Publicly asking questions is a great way to practice describing questions more effectively and simplifying them for others to understand, a skill that has come in handy for solving problems beyond those related to data.

I've also developed a support system where I know where to go for help with various questions, such as data, leadership, product, business and hiring. It all started with the dbt community 💜.

What’s more, Laurence pushed me to introduce dbt at COSCUP Taiwan 2022, the largest open-source event in Taiwan, and I was thrilled to be accepted to speak at Coalesce 2022. Preparing talks and answering questions were valuable training, and with the help of many people, I revised my presentation multiple times, refining my opinions and structuring my thinking. I learned a lot from these experiences.

What dbt community leader do you identify with? How are you looking to grow your leadership in the dbt community?

I admire dbt Lab’s co-founder Tristan Handy’s openness to chat and share his thoughts, as well as his open-minded approach to product-building and his mission to encourage data analysts to work more like software developers. When I spoke with dbt employees at Coalesce 2022, it was clear that they aligned with the company mission and loved the product that they worked on.

I am also inspired by Benn Stancil's (Mode) ability to write a newsletter every Friday that uncovers questions and trends in a clear and concise way, sparking discussions and inspiring people. While attending Coalesce annually from 2020 to 2022, I found Emilie Schario’s (co-founder, Turbine) presentations enlightening and I could see the evolution of how data teams work over the course of her three successive talks.

Additionally, I am inspired by Jolanda Zwagemaker (Wise), who created #local-singapore to connect with others when she moved from London to Singapore and even flew to Taiwan to share her experiences with Incremental.

I never think about leadership in the community. I want to share my thoughts, ideas, and experiences to inspire others and start discussions. I also hope to encourage more people in Taiwan to join conversations with others from around the world, as I believe this will help us learn and grow together.

What have you learned from community members? What do you hope others can learn from you?

Being a part of the dbt community has taught me the value of collaboration and learning from others. As someone who started using dbt as a solo PM, it's been reassuring to find that I'm not alone. It's inspiring to see people from diverse backgrounds, including those without engineering experience, eager to learn and become analytics engineers. It’s incredible to see the progress occurring in people’s skills and even in their careers.

I hope that my journey from learning SQL in 2019 to leading a small data team now can inspire others. I believe that sharing knowledge and asking questions are great ways to learn and grow. I want others to know that it's okay not to have all the answers and that their experiences are valuable. Everyone has a unique perspective and experience that can help others.

Anything else interesting you want to tell us?

Thank you 💕. I gain a lot from the community and dbt.