AIM catches up with Dr GR Chandrashekar, Program Chair, Data Science at Institute of Financial Management & Research to talk about the evolution of programmes and how it has kept pace with the industry’s changing demands. We also get a picture why IFMR is uniquely positioned to train the next generation of data science professionals. Backed by a world-class faculty that has real-world experience and research experience, IFMR’s Data Science certifications provide a lot of value to beginners and professionals looking for a mid-career switch. We also delve into the alumni profile, who come from varied backgrounds and their career progression.
Find the interview excerpts below:
Analytics India Magazine: How has the programme evolved over the years to keep pace with the industry practices?
Dr G R Chandrashekhar: Our Post Graduate Certificate Program in Data Science has always been market focused right from the beginning in terms of needs of the industry; be it the advances in tools and techniques, advances in application areas, advances in terms of deploying AI at scale.
AIM: As data science continues to evolve as a discipline, can you cite how IFMR has kept abreast of these developments to stay relevant in the market and maintain a competitive edge
Dr GRC: The faculty at IFMR GSB, KREA University attend the latest AI Conferences in India and abroad, engage in training corporates in Data Science, and have developed connects with leading firms engaged in the development of AI in the Bay area ecosystem. This constant engagement across research, training, and advising keeps the faculty current and allows for the development of a cutting edge curriculum.
AIM: How has the journey in training the next generation of data science professionals been?
Dr GRC: It has been an exciting and interesting journey training the next generation of data science professionals. There has been a perceptible increase in interest in this field in the past few years, working executives with a wide variety of experience are interested to know, learn, and understand data science.
AIM: For the benefit of the readers, can you tell us — what is the typical profile of students who join IFMR’s Business Analytics course?
Dr GRC: Our student profile ranges between 2-25 years’ of experience and they come from various sectors — Banking, IT, Consumer durables, Engineering, Automotive, Trading, E-commerce sectors to name some, some of them are in senior management of their respective organizations.
AIM: IFMR has been consistently high-ranked? Can you share what contributed to its success?
Dr GRC: Our vision and benchmark has been that of quality and global leadership from inception. This was the reason we tied up with IBM initially for the first batch. We then realised that one vendor alone would not lead us to global leadership and have since developed an ecosystem of partners. This has helped us in designing latest curriculum, combine expertise within IFMR GSB with industry practice.
AIM: Can you comment on how the analytics ecosystem in India has evolved and your thoughts in the shift towards emerging technologies – machine learning and deep learning?
Dr GRC: The analytics ecosystem in India is rather open and embraces the latest technology available. Even firms that have invested in proprietary tools are alternating with open source tools in their ecosystem. The AI world is always full of competing tools / platforms —Tensorflow vs. PyTorch vs. Mxnet and so on. India seems to have attracted the latest platforms from all major vendors in the past two years. In terms of broad approaches, both machine learning and deep learning have their place of importance depending on the application.
AIM: A key aspect of Business Analytics & Big Data programme at IFMR is its successful placement record. Can you share numbers on that?
Dr GRC: Over 30% of the participants, have so far either found analytics positions within their organizations or found new analytics jobs. 10% of the participants have found leadership positions in analytics after the program. The remaining participants did not seek to change their roles as they were already doing analytics in some form.
AIM: Again, for the benefit of readers, can you tell us what do recruiters look for in candidates during the hiring process? What are the key skills that can make or break the analytics interview process for candidates?
Analytics recruiters would prefer to hire candidates who have thoroughly imbibed the fundamentals of data science. Any project or ‘proof of concept’ developed by a candidate would be very handy in an interview situation.
AIM: As a leading voice in academia, what more can be done to encourage students to take up STEM-related courses. Also, as a seasoned academician, where is the analytics jobs market in India and what kind of opportunities are there for young professionals who want to enter this field?
There are a large number of engineering graduates in India. However, not all of them maybe interested in data science. If the engineering curriculum increased its content in statistics that would not only remove any fears about statistics but also draw them towards data science. The other intervention could be done by all analytics firms and start-ups. These firms could have an ‘open day’ once a year and have the local STEM student community participate in the open day.
There are a few different types of Analytics jobs that are normally available. These could range from Data Analyst, Data Scientist, to a Data Engineer role. Participating in Kaggle competitions, having an active Github account would certainly assist in
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Richa Bhatia is a seasoned journalist with six-years experience in reportage and news coverage and has had stints at Times of India and The Indian Express. She is an avid reader, mum to a feisty two-year-old and loves writing about the next-gen technology that is shaping our world.