Shane Jay Fairbairn is a Technical Delivery Lead at Education Analytics, and they joined EA in 2023. Shane has more than 20 years of experience in the education field, including the 11 years that they worked at the North East Florida Educational Consortium.

How would you describe your role on the Partner Strategy Team?

As a Technical Delivery Lead, I am focused on and committed to delivering solutions for our partners. I help our partners use the tools and services they need to support their work. Within EA, my role supports the implementation of what we refer to as the Ed-Fi Stack. The Ed-Fi Stack encompasses sets of data standards and technologies that enable EA to create solutions that can then be shared and iterated upon—as my grandma always said, “many hands make light work.” Much of my role is focused on being able to proactively identify issues and deliver solutions in equal measure. My 20+ year background in education helps me understand many needs and communicate effectively with our partners.

What interested you in working at EA?

Would it be cliché to say it is the people? I have been a member of the Ed-Fi community for more than a decade and EA has always impressed me. When a friend and colleague of mine asked me to consider becoming part of the organization I did some research and found that my values and purpose align well with EA. Also, a thing that some people might not think of is how important the environment is in a workplace. EA values the individual and actively works to support a respectful and inclusive atmosphere. This is truly unique in my professional experience.

We know that every day is different, but what would a typical day at EA look like for you?

I thrive in a dynamic, solution-oriented space. My typical day has some meetings to ensure we understand the partners’ needs, the status of work in progress, and planning for future deliverables. In addition to meetings, I have other work that I engage in to support our StartingBlocks, Stadium, and Podium teams. One really must be on their toes and anticipate possible issues. What may seem like a minor issue might have a thread that connects to other areas or could be a potential threat to the success of a project. Communication and commitment to people make each day a unique opportunity to do good for others.

What skills do you possess that you find helpful in your role?

There are core skills that extend beyond technical skills that I have found helpful in my role. For instance, being able to listen and provide appropriate, constructive feedback is essential for working in cross-functional teams. Problem and puzzle solving skills are both great when approaching any problem, though it is critical to be able to “step outside yourself” to fully understand the issue before acting. Of course, technical skills are super important and help make the work more efficient and accurate. Being able to write, read, and interpret SQL are skills that I use every day. Also, understanding the flow of data within a system and being able to explain it to many different audiences is essential.

(From left to right) Partner Strategist Aldo Belmont, Technical Delivery Lead Shane Jay Fairbairn, and Product Specialist Emily Johnson work on a team building activity during a Partner Strategy retreat.

What is the most rewarding aspect of your role?

Knowing that I am part of providing solutions to improve educational outcomes for students fills my bucket. Also, when something works as intended, it puts me on Cloud 9.

What is your favorite project that you’ve worked on at EA?

I love working with our Podium product. So much must happen in the background for one image or graph to represent data in a way that is both meaningful and actionable for educators. Since Podium is operational in different states and contexts, when we create a solution to help a partner in one context, it transfers because of how data standards and technology support sharing. Also, it is fun talking about how to make something impactful from different perspectives, e.g., aesthetics, analytics, and security.

What changes do you anticipate in your field in the next year?

I am sure that you will hear this a lot—artificial intelligence (AI) will continue to be used in novel ways to solve problems. However, I sincerely hope that there is a resurgence in education about being critical consumers of information.

Shane with other EA staff at the Ed-Fi Alliance’s 2024 Tech Congress conference.

Interested in working for EA?

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