We receive plenty of queries from senior professionals with upwards of 10 years of work experience who are considering a career change into the field of Analytics and Big Data. Now after spending a considerable amount of time and effort in building a career in a specific domain, it is but natural for them to have numerous questions raging in their heads about making that jump.
Will I lose out on all my previous experience?
Will I have to start from scratch?
What kind of skills should I pick up?
Do I need to learn a programming language?
……to name a few.
In a tête-à-tête with Asis Mohanty, a senior professional at DBS Bank with over 12 years of experience, he recounts his experience during the 10-month intensive Executive Program in Business Analytics by SDA Bocconi and Jigsaw Academy. He talks to us about his learning as well as tips for people looking to go down this path.
Let’s hear it from Asis himself.
Analytics India Magazine: Why and how did you choose to do this course?
Asis Mohanty: Anyone who spent time in the banking industry understands the power of data and also that analytics is the skill of the future. I had been playing around with the idea of doing a long-term analytics course for some time now. However, I wanted to make sure I enroll for a course that gives me a good flavor of both Analytics and Big data. After a good amount of research on my part, I narrowed down to the Executive Program in Business Analytics (EPBA) offered by SDA Bocconi and Jigsaw academy because I found the curriculum to be most comprehensive and I felt that the learning methodology of the course was designed to maximize business exposure.
AIM: If you had to summarize your overall experience with this course….
AM: After completing the course, I can say that the course lived up to my expectations. I felt like a student again after a long time. I think the best part of the course was the fact that it was not easy, it pushed me to the core and that is what I would expect from a Master’s program.
AIM: Was your company supportive of your decision and has it benefitted them in any way?
AM: My management was very supportive about this decision as they are keen on building strong analytics competency within the team. In fact, we are all encouraged to take on self-study initiatives, upskilling via online and executive programs and similar initiatives are encouraged within the company. My course was partially sponsored by the company and in exchange I have taken up the role of evangelizing analytics within my organization. I have conducted several classes for my team and plan to do more in the future. I can see many areas and roles which would benefit from analytics and I am doing my best to make the organization more data-driven.
AIM: How was the course curriculum?
AM: As I said, one of the reasons I chose this course was because it offers the right mix of Analytics and Big Data with a strong focus on business application. I feel the course does a great job of linking theoretical concepts with practical application. Given the direction the industry is headed, I would like to see content on machine learning and cloud added to the curriculum.
AIM: What about the faculty?
AM: We had an interesting mix of faculty, with professors from Italy and industry experts from Jigsaw Academy. The SDA professors are very good and their teaching is very industry focused. In terms of industry experts, we had someone from Vodafone, someone from the banking domain, Big Data architect and several others. All these sessions were very informative.
AIM: What about the Capstone project?
AM: I think the capstone project is a very important part of the learning process and the course puts a strong emphasis on it. If you take the project seriously, it can be the best source of learning. I worked on a very interesting project where we had to optimize the system so we could offer the right product to the right customer at the right time. It was a great opportunity for me to brush on my logistic regression skills and pick up additional machine learning skills with real world data.
AIM: Finally, any tips for aspiring data scientists? Especially those with 10+ years of experience?
AM: Firstly, let me clarify. My current role is not an out and out Data Scientist role. But I do work a lot with data. I feel I am a lot more confident making decisions backed by data now. My advice to people would be:
- Get involved in the capstone project right from the start. It’s a great learning opportunity if you are serious.
- Write blogs. Be active on Linked In groups and other Data Science communities. Build your profile. Don’t wait till the end of the course for this. Start early. You will not regret it.
- Analytics projects are very iterative. You will try many things that wont work till something suddenly clicks. So don’t give up. Keep trying.
- For senior folks, always keep an eye on the bigger picture. Keep abreast of the tech landscape. Know what is hot and what is not. Attend forums and summits to keep your knowledge up to date.
- Again, for senior guys, I want to remind them the pace with which the world is changing has increased tremendously. You have to keep learning new things, new skills. That’s the only way to stay relevant.
And lastly, don’t shy away from becoming a student again. Believe me, you will love the experience.
So yes, banking on big data pays off big for senior professionals.