Take Advantage of the Growing Demand for Data Skills

2016-2017 Issue 1

Man showing business graph on wood tableCompanies and organizations, from the insurance industry to healthcare, are collecting information 24/7. The result? Large amounts of data often referred to as Big Data.

Professionals with technical data skills and business know-how are needed to build strategic insights and actions from these large data sets. Boosting your skills in data science and business communication could reinvent your career.

Choose your niche

The first step is to decide which industry you’d like to work in. “Choose an industry that you like – you want to make sure you like the industry you are working in and adapt your skills to fit,” advises Sonia Basili, vice president of talent management at Montreal’s Stradigi.

Be mindful that additional niche skills may apply if you wish to work in a specific industry. Flexibility is a must – data scientists need to be continuous learners who can keep up with fast-paced innovations. “[We look for] people who are flexible and resourceful,” adds Basili. “I look for people who are really curious and open to new ideas – they’re looking for the answers.”

Not planning to become a data scientist, but have strong management or business capacities? Fill the demand for data savvy managers and business professionals by strengthening analytical skills relevant to data-driven organizations.

“There’s a big need for people who understand the technical processes as well as the client-facing side – the translators who take information back to the data scientists, and clients or stakeholders,” explains Basili.

Be well rounded

Overall, active professional development and well-rounded capacities give an edge. Professional Data Science programs, such as those now offered at the McGill School of Continuing Studies, provide a head start on data skills development.

“In creating these programs, we worked hand-in-hand with data scientists and industry experts to bridge the gap between the amazing research being done in university labs and the practical needs of business professionals by making the essential in-demand data science skills accessible,” explains Inna Popova, Director, Career and Professional Development (non-credit) at the School.

Preparing data is largely the task of a data scientist, but more and more professionals will need to work with data scientists or translate results into actions. Communication skills are vital since mutual understanding strengthens collaborations and leads to better business outcomes. Whether you are a seasoned programmer or business professional, don’t be afraid to jump in and learn something new.

This article was originally published in French in 24heures Montreal.

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