How Sqool Alumnus Marwan Leveled Up His Career from Sales Development to Revenue Operations
RenoRun’s CRO promoted Marwan to Revenue Operations partly because he did Sqool. Today, Marwan continues to leverage SQL to generate valuable insights to grow his company’s go-to-market efforts.
Marwan Sultani is a Senior Associate in Revenue Operations at Shiftsmart and a Sqool alumnus. He previously led RevOps at RenoRun and started his Sales Operations career at Lightspeed in Montreal. Just before that is where he met Karim, when they both worked at Sonder with Marwan working in the Guest Experience department.
Tell me about yourself
I grew up in Lebanon then moved to Montreal where I attended McGill University. I studied Finance, since I knew I wanted to study business, and was good with numbers. In my last semester there, I took a venture capital class, and that’s when I discovered the startup ecosystem and landed a customer service role at Sonder.
I decided I liked startups more than traditional finance, so I jumped into Sales Operations at Lightspeed after I graduated. As an extrovert, I love talking to people and helping them improve their business. Eventually, I joined RenoRun, a Series A startup at the time, as a Sales Development Representative (SDR). I liked it but it wasn’t something I saw myself doing in the long term. My bread and butter was in finance, and I loved playing with data and numbers. So I started chatting with my manager, the CRO, about switching to Revenue Operations (RevOps).
At the same time, I had enrolled in Sqool. I wanted to expand my skill set beyond Excel. The CRO saw me learning SQL. That combined with my success as an SDR and experience in Sales Operations led him to offer me the RevOps role.
How do you use SQL in your job?
At RenoRun, we had a data infrastructure team building all the queries and connecting Snowflake with Looker. While I was mostly in Looker, there were times where I needed to use SQL myself.
Looker has a filtered version of the data, not the raw data that I sometimes needed. For instance, we were transitioning from Hubspot to Salesforce. I couldn’t directly extract the information from Hubspot—they didn’t save data in a clean way. Our data team also hadn’t yet gotten the chance to make the data available in Looker. I asked our infrastructure team for access to Snowflake, and I ran some SQL queries to export what I needed. It’s empowering to get the data myself, instead of waiting two weeks for someone else to get it for me.
“It’s empowering to get the data myself, instead of waiting two weeks for someone else to get it for me.”
How else has knowing SQL helped you in your Revenue Operations role?
Looker runs on queries, so I could identify the name of the fields and mistakes in queries. I also know the ins and outs of complex Salesforce object types and data structures. One example is how a deal or opportunity is linked to accounts and contacts. These links are key to know how to join different tables together in the right way with the right keys.
Sometimes, I’d even give feedback to the infrastructure folks and tell them how to get the data they need. This saves them time from having to figure out the nuances of Salesforce. We make an awesome team—I bring my knowledge of Salesforce and foundational SQL, and they are the SQL experts. We’ve been able to surface key insights to our internal terms in record time.
Generally, if you work with dashboards in your job, I would strongly recommend having a basic knowledge of SQL.
“We make an awesome team—I bring my knowledge of Salesforce and foundational SQL, and [the data folks] are the SQL experts. We’ve been able to surface key insights to our internal terms in record time.”
Tell me about your Sqool experience.
I did Sqool two years ago and found it very helpful. I would watch the recordings before attending class to get a background on what we were going to discuss. That allowed me during the live sessions to focus more on building a deeper understanding instead of learning the basics live. The homework and practice problems then solidified what I had learned.
Karim and Elaine were very helpful outside of class, from offering office hours to their quick responses on Slack. I enjoyed being a part of the cohort environment—we kept each other accountable and helped each other too.
Did you participate in any other SQL or data programs after Sqool?
Nope, Sqool was my first and only SQL program. They taught me exactly what I needed to level up in my role and differentiate myself. Even today, I still use the Sqool’s cheat sheet. Having a basic understanding of SQL can already get you super far, especially if you’re not planning to be a full-time data scientist.
Any tips on learning SQL?
If you know how to use IF statements in Excel, it’ll be natural and easy for you to pick up SQL. It’s a very logical and intuitive language.
Be consistent. At first, SQL might appear to be overwhelming. Once you get the basics, you’re more than halfway there. Everything else that comes after is easier.
Don’t wait to build the whole query before running it. Run small parts of it to check your work and avoid errors. This will save you time in the long run (less detective work).