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Tips 5 Successful Data Scientists Give To Their Younger Selves

Tips 5 Successful Data Scientists Give To Their Younger Selves

Prajakta Hebbar

Data Science is the “hottest job of the 21st century”. It has all the buzz and glam but many enthusiasts are still confused as to what this job entails. Fewer still, understand what it takes to be a data scientist.


This week, Analytics India Magazine compiled answers from five noted personalities in data science. The question was simple: What advice would you give your 15-year-old self?

Here are the interesting answers:

Pankaj Rai, Senior Vice President, Strategy at Wells Fargo

“My advice to my 15-year-old self would be the same thing I tell young people, including my own daughter. Follow the ‘three Cs’ framework: integrate compassion, creativity and conflict-resolution in your work.”

I-Kang Ding, Data Science Manager at Capital One

“The advice I have for my younger self is not specifically related to data science, but more related to career development in general. My first advice is to be prepared to re-learn new knowledge and reinvent yourself during your entire career. The age of stable and permanent employment is over. My second piece of advice is that don’t fall prey to the Sunk Cost Fallacy. It is not helpful to dwell on how much effort you have spent on a particular project. You can not recoup that effort. Instead, consider the opportunity cost, and ask yourself the question, “given what I know now, what is the best course of action”? Sometimes the best course of action is to change projects, even if you may be attached to the previous project.

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Ratnakar Pandey, India Head Risk and Analytics at Kabbage Inc

My advice to my 15-year-old self would be:

  • Learn as much as possible. Spend 4-5 hours every week on the learning and development and knowing the latest in the industry
  • Challenge the status quo. Never assume that whatever is being done is following the most effective approach
  • Believe that you are equal to everybody else in the hierarchy. Don’t be afraid to speak your mind
  • Focus on Innovation and coming out with the earth-shattering ideas rather than doing the business as usual
  • Focus on developing great communication skills and soft skills as this is one of the biggest gaps I have seen in the analytics professionals
  • Don’t become a one-trick pony. Try to get exposure in different industries and different functional areas.
  • Participate in competitions and events such as Kaggle, to know where you stand vis a vis your peer group
  • Try to write white papers and blogs on your subject matter expertise
  • Develop domain expertise as without that analytics is not effective
  • Finally, always maintain clear visibility of your strengths and opportunities and any blind spots. Actively seek feedback from your peer group and your superiors

Oscar Cassetti, Senior Data Scientist at Grab

“Delegate or die! That specific data pipeline introduces a systematic error and you are tempted to fix it in your analysis/code downstream? Big NO! When possible push the fix upstreams, you don’t know who else will be using that pipeline in a month or a year from now. Make sure that who is responsible for that pipeline will fix it, maybe fix it yourself but do not (try not to) do it downstream.”

Manjunath Sindagi, Co-founder at

“My first answer to my 15-year-old self would be to unlearn and learn. Unlearning some things are more challenging than learning something new. You are in the comfort zone with what you know and it’s difficult to learn. My second piece of advice would be to focus on public speaking. I am of the opinion that 70-80 % of the time it’s not about how much you know, it’s about how well you speak. Technical knowledge is a must, but that doesn’t mean it’s everything. Have soft skills and be articulate when you speak. Lastly, attend conferences and meetup. This helps in gaining knowledge and network.

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