Investing In Myself Landed Me The "Sexiest" Job of 2017!
Like many Indian women, there came a time when I had to choose between my baby and my career. I was working as a consultant for a prominent Switzerland-based pharmaceutical firm, as an ETL programmer (Extract Transform Load). While I liked my job, I knew that my baby needed my time. So, after much consideration I took a break.
When my kids started going to school, I decided to pursue my career in a full-fledged manner, once again. Don’t get me wrong - I loved spending time with my children and taking care of my family, even doing the cooking myself. But I had also started missing a career in my life. Getting back to work after a break is no easy feat, as the job market keeps evolving.
I wanted to look at something beyond the role of an ETL - to grow, earn more, and build a lucrative career. But to make such a leap, I knew I needed to sharpen my skillset. I started doing a research to explore my options and heard about a field called ‘Data Analytics’. My curiosity piqued, I soon realised that data is literally at the heart of everything we do, in today’s world. I found this extremely fascinating!
India Needs 2 Lakh Data Analysts
Technological advancements have increased the number of devices and systems that can generate data - from smartphones to websites. And to make sense of the data, we need trained and skilled analytics professionals, to derive insights from all this data being produced everyday. Even a basic understanding allows you to see the bigger picture and predict issues, trends, and habits - and these skills can enhance any organization.
As I read more, I began to understand that professionals with diverse analytics skills are in high demand, and if you can work with data and communicate with stakeholders, you are at the top of the recruitment interest list. According to a report, there will be a shortage of 2,00,000 trained data analysts in India!
Building My Skills
To build a good career in this direction, I realised that taking up a certified course is really necessary. I wanted to understand everything about this field and for that, had to get my fundamentals right. After much research, I found the Executive Program in Business Analytics (EPBA) offered by MISB Bocconi and Jigsaw.
This 12-month programme came across as very comprehensive. Taught by experts from Jigsaw Academy, the course also has international faculty from the SDA Bocconi School of Management, a premier management institute in Milan.
Another plus point was that besides online classes, it also offered contact classes, where you could meet the faculty.
Back To School!
It literally felt like going back to school - my first class was statistics and I was overwhelmed! But after the second and third contact class, I was all warmed up. However, my comfort level really went up when I attended an SAS programming class, where I always worked on SAS datasets. There was no stopping me after that.
The best part about the course was the assignments. We had about 10 assignments
where we were hands-on with almost all the tools that the course introduced
us to. We had assignments in SAS, R and Hadoop.
Guest faculty from the industry - from pharma to finance and marketing, and of course analytics - spoke to us about their experiences. Believe it or not, I enjoyed all those lectures. You could say that my hunger for knowledge and learning was ignited!
Finding A Job
After receiving my certificate, I started looking for jobs in Hyderabad. I applied to a company called Perceptive Analytics, which offers solutions to multiple sectors. I was both excited and nervous to get a call and Chaitanya Sagar, CEO of Perceptive Analytics, quizzed me on all the concepts I had learnt in the course. I also showed him a live project that I had worked on during the course, about real data from analytics companies.
While the interview went well, I was also asked to spend two whole days in the office, which gave me an insight into the work and culture of the organisation. One very important learning from the interview - your concepts have to be very clear. Eventually I got the job!
I now work at BizAcuity Solutions as a System Analyst.
A “Sexy” Career Choice
Analytics and Data Science has been termed as ‘The Sexiest Job of the 21st Century’ by none other than the Harvard Business Review. In my personal experience, it is a dynamic and exciting space to be in. If you aim to pursue such a career, here’s my advice to you:
1. Acquire multiple skill sets: These skills greatly depend on the environment and portion of the workflow you are focusing on. To begin with, you can pick one or more of the most used analytics technical tools such as Microsoft Excel, R Programming Language, Python Programming Language, SAS, SQL and Big Data Tools.
2. Application is important: It’s not purely about number and statistics. Once you have learned the basics and are confident about your skills, you must learn how to apply those skills in a business context. Build proficiency in the use of an analytics tool and learn statistical and numerical analysis techniques, to be able to analyse any kind of data.
3. Get your hands dirty: To gain a foothold in the industry, you must demonstrate that you have a practical understanding, which goes a long way in convincing recruiters. Gain hands-on practical knowledge through internships, contests, competitions, community projects, personal projects and of course, learning on the job.
The easiest way to do so is to apply data analytics to your current role and demonstrate value. For instance: if you are in finance or content development, use data to understand your customers and their interests and behaviours better!
As a mom who successfully re-entered the workforce, my advice to all women out there is this - invest in yourself and your career. Learn new skills, talk to experts and carve your own path for success. Reinvention is the name of the game, when it comes to taking charge of your career!
This is a personal narrative by Meghana Vyas, a mom and a System Analyst with BizAcuity Solutions. You can read more such accounts and advice from senior professionals who have decided to upskill with analytics here, here and here.