The Data Chief | Episode 75

Balancing long-term vision with near-term action with Vercel’s VP of Data

Alex Viana

VP of Data


Current EpisodeEP75: Balancing long-term vision with near-term action with Vercel’s VP of Data

Episode Overview

Alex Viana, VP of Data at Vercel, has had a truly unique career. Starting with a role at the Hubble Space Telescope, Alex found his way into the data space by way of data security and searching for leaked data assets. Today, he leads the data organization at Vercel, where he views building – teams, technology processes, and metrics – as his primary responsibility. In this episode Alex shares his thoughts on leading data teams at different (but fast-growing) tech companies, the importance of building scalable data platforms, delivering value through stakeholder engagement, and balancing long-term vision with short-term action as a key to success.

Key Moments: 

  • The origins of Alex’s data journey with the Hubble Space Telescope (4:29)
  • Alex’s unique approach to data leadership (6:12)
  • About Vercel (8:25)
  • Transitioning from growth-stage to more mature companies (10:38)
  • The biggest challenges Alex faces at Vercel (14:12)
  • Creating synchronicity across departments (16:59)
  • Having vision as a data executive (21:54)
  • The role of the data team in scaling a company (24:45)
  • Determining your value as an executive (27:31)
  • Building a positive data culture (33:10)
  • The growth of generative AI in data (39:20)

Key Quotes:

You can never completely neutralize risk. You want to document the risk and accept it. And I think it's the same thing with data work. You don't want to, for every situation, have the same degree of precision, the same amount of data required. It's sometimes okay to be directionally accurate and to estimate things.

There's always prioritization issues in the data world. And so I think understanding how you work with that at different scales is very important.

I'm a big advocate of positioning data as a service to the entire company.

It's wonderful that more and more people will be able to work on an LLM. But the people who will kind of be the leaders there are the people who understand the software libraries under that.



Alex Viana is the VP of Data at Vercel. Alex has over 15 years of experience in data management and analysis, and has led teams of data scientists, engineers, and analysts in their previous positions. Alex is an expert in Python and SQL, and has used these skills to develop software platforms for managing and analyzing large datasets. Alex has also created databases of astronomical observations and predicted moon positions. In their current role, they are responsible for providing accurate data and insights to the organization and promoting data-driven decision making.


Get even more insights from data and analytics leaders like Alex on The Data Chief.