I want to be a Data Scientist…?

by | Sep 3, 2012

When a 6 year old is asked what they want to be when they grow up, their answer is normally a generic one – a vet, a policeman, a rugby player. How many people answered with Data Scientist? Chances are you didn’t even know what that was, most people still don’t. The majority of those in the role have fallen into it – right place, right time; but what makes the right person?
If you’re anything like me and graduated university with a degree in Genetics and Biochemistry (Jurassic Park dreams blurred the reality!), you probably weren’t planning on a career in data analytics. As my LinkedIn profile grows I’m realising that there is no one education prerequisite for the role. Some of the best Data Scientists I know left the system in high school.  Experience and passion are where it’s at!
Technical skills are a given; without these, data stays exactly where it is – undiscovered and unkempt. The ability to use the technical skills to tell a story is what makes a good Data Scientist. Softer skills, such as business acumen, creativity, intuition, and presentation, all determine how successful the analytic results. This way of thinking has led to the term ‘data artist’ coined by Bill Franks, Chief Analytics Officer for Teradata – “A data artist is someone who has the technical skills and acumen required, but they also have intuition, which is hard to teach”.
Does this mean the right hemisphere of the brain is finally being noticed in the analytics world? This may be a new realisation in data space but the relationship between art and science is nothing new. The creation of art is, in part, a maths equation – proportions and perspective. The subject, colour and style are all just a reflection of the artist and their experience.
So all you Data Scientists (or wannabes) out there, instead of using the training budget for another conventional business course, why not try something outside the analytic square. I know from experience that drawing classes are a lot of fun!

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