While all companies target end customers when building products and services, few would think to hire employees who share the same vision even before they join. But data scientists at Wells Fargo make up a unique group of people who were, first and foremost, hired for demonstrating the skills needed to put the company’s customers at the centre of everything they do.
“We want to satisfy our customers’ needs and help them succeed financially,” says Naveen Yeri, Senior VP, Head of Enterprise Analytics and Data Science at Wells Fargo – India & Philippines.”
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According to him, to be successful in data science, candidates need to embrace three facets of the field: know analytical techniques, build technical expertise, and constantly imbibe business acumen.
“Our recruiting efforts are geared to find ideal candidates who possess these qualities,” says Naveen. “In addition, we always look at the candidate’s passion and perseverance as demonstrated in their past projects,” he adds.
So what is the hiring process of data scientists at Wells Fargo? Let us find out.
Career Enhancers VS Career Changers
In data science, a strong academic background is critical to gain the foundational knowledge. But beyond academic qualifications, it is important to hone skills using a combination of work experience, certifications and advanced degrees.
According to Naveen, most candidates who have a few years of experience and aspire to build a career in data science, fall into two categories: career enhancers and career changers.
“For career enhancers, certifications and self-learning can be of tremendous help, as they can select a preferred knowledge provider, course content, duration, proctor, etc. as per their
inclination. However, self-motivation is crucial in order to follow a routine and make progress in a methodical manner,” he says. “On the other hand, career changers may benefit if they invest in formal education to make the shift to data science a more meaningful and rewarding experience,” he adds.
Ideal Data Science Candidate At Wells Fargo
The data science team at Wells Fargo are aligned horizontally to support multiple lines of business across the enterprise. As per the company, the business problems it faces varies by complexity, so it looks for candidates who can see the bigger picture and can operate at a detailed level, as projects progress through the cycle.
“We look for potential talent, who can think out-of-the-box, are courageous to try newer techniques and are open to challenging existing ones,” says Naveen. “More than ever, candidates are required to be consultative by nature,” he adds.
According to him, the company’s business partners appreciate data scientists who can translate difficult topics in simple terms. “Art of effective communication is gaining traction in the analytics field, and we are looking for persuasive storytellers more than ever,” he says.
Hiring Process At Wells Fargo
The company uses a combination of written, phone and in-person interviews to assess technical, functional and leadership skills during the initial rounds. Functional analysts and managers from the US are brought in for successive rounds to test candidates on varied aspects of the expected skill sets.
“We believe in proactively reaching out to high-quality candidates, and we keep a lookout for them through the year,” says Naveen. “We use LinkedIn and employee referrals extensively and this approach has worked well for us,” he adds.
Furthermore, the company has been open to hiring from different industry sectors as well – be it financial services, insurance or healthcare, etc. – “as long as the candidate has the required expertise.”
Unlike many companies who hire data scientists, Wells Fargo claims to have not faced any issue in finding good, skilled talent. One of the reasons may be its openness to using various channels to identify the best candidates for the job. However, over the years, the company has identified certain unique challenges associated with different cohorts.
“Data science is emerging as the most commonly used buzzword in recent times. That means that oftentimes, candidates tend to use keywords profusely in their resumes,” he says. “Also, top data scientists are being groomed in startups, smaller companies and big corporations alike. Therefore, we rely on our established recruiting practices to screen candidates,” adds Naveen.
This screening is also aligned with the experience a candidate carries.
“For someone just out of college, we look for the depth of their knowledge, ability to think logically and creatively when presented with real-world cases,” says Naveen. “On the other hand, senior candidates do not typically come from a data science background, as this stream did not formally exist five years ago. Our selection criteria, onboarding plan and ongoing training, thus, are customised to meet the needs of this group,” he adds.
Opportunities For Data Scientists
When starting out at Wells Fargo, employees get an opportunity to deeply understand one or two lines of business as a first step, while they adjust to the culture. Over a period, they get to expand their knowledge on multiple lines of business, tools and processes.
And it does not end there. The company claims to continually invest in its development by providing access to technical/management development programs. Furthermore, it supports and coaches employees to think broadly, develop a proactive consulting mindset, and encourage them to participate in various employee engagement programs.
“This is a great place to build and grow your analytic career,” feels Naveen. “Through a community of practice, we provide visibility and support for the analytic profession in driving business value across Wells Fargo, and promoting the company as a premier place to work as an analytic professional,” he adds.