Here Are Qualities That Dunnhumby looks for while hiring data scientists!
Technology/ Skill News
Continue reading

US alone is facing a shortage of almost 200,000 data scientists, shares Dunnhumby India head

Diksha Gupta, TechGig.com

Harvard Business Review termed data scientist as the "sexiest job of the 21st century". The demand for data scientists in India is soaring and companies are ready to pay heavy packages to these experts. However, supply of talent versus the demand is highly skewed. Dr. Anthony Kilili - the head of India at Dunnhumby asserts that it is about time that the existing analytical talent upskills to more advanced data science professionals. In an exclusive conversation with TechGig.com, he shared insights into the qualities that his company looks for while hiring data scientists. Read on.

Last time when I spoke to your ex-CTO Yael Cosset in 2014, he stated that the company faces dearth of right talent for big data analytics. Do you still face a similar situation?

Yes, this is still a global issue across all industries. In fact, a recent McKinsey report stated that in next two years, US alone will experience a shortage of almost 200,000 data scientists with demand outstripping supply by as much as 50 per cent. This is the right time for existing analytical talent to upskill into more advanced data science professionals.

How is the job scenario in India with respect to big data jobs?

While there is a projected global shortage of data scientists, India has over the years prepared well through a strong focus on science and technology. The country is well-poised to continue in its leadership position in the supply of talent around the world. Within India, there has been a rapid growth of startups seeking skilled data scientists hence the market provides a variety of choices for candidates from well-established organisations to startups and data science research hubs serving multiple clients. 

How have the job roles in big data evolved over the years?

Data science jobs are becoming much more exciting. We have moved from traditional reporting roles where analysts spent considerable efforts building reports of 'what happened' scenarios to now building more predictive solutions ('what will happen') and optimisation solutions ('what is the best that could happen'). These advanced forward-looking solutions give businesses a very good understanding of customer behavior.

A great example is in CRM where businesses are rapidly moving from segmentation-based customer targeting solutions to 1:1 personalised messaging. Furthermore, rapidly changing technologies and different types of data being collected mean that the data scientists are becoming more agile, responsive to change and know multiple technology solutions with a keen sense of figuring out what approach works best for the issue at hand.
 What are the top sectors offering jobs in big data and what new sectors will emerge in 2016?

Traditional leading sectors in this area have been manufacturing, utilities, telecommunications and finance.  In the coming years we will see an increasing demand for skilled data science practitioners in many other sectors including retail, government, arts and entertainment.

What aspects need to be improved in the existing curriculum to make candidates employable for big data jobs?

Many universities are doing a wonderful job in training and building technical experts in data science. However, we need to understand that this is only one part of equation. The 'art' of the craft should not be forgotten and the curriculum needs to include how to build and tell impactful stories from data.  The data scientist job has moved from answering specific ad hoc questions by the marketing departments to proactively examining huge amounts of data in search of information nuggets that are not intuitive or previously unknown.  Hence it is very important that the analyst can convincingly 'sell' their story to the rest of the business.

What are your expansion and hiring plans for this year?

We are continuing on the growth path that we embarked upon nine years ago in India. Our offerings have since expanded into new sectors and geographical regions. As we do this, we will continue to seek and hire great talent in big data processing and analytics.  We are in a continuously evolving field and we are focused on upskilling our people in technology and algorithms that help us stay ahead of the curve.

What top qualities would you like to see in an ideal candidate for big data job in Dunnhumby?

The ideal data scientist must exhibit our core values of passion, collaboration and curiosity. In terms of skill set, he must cover all areas of what I call the 'Venn diagram of data scientists' which covers domain knowledge (business understanding), multi-language programming (ability to code in open source languages such as R & Python) and lastly the ability to solve problems using a rich toolkit of data science algorithms covering advanced statistics and machine learning.

diksha.gupta@timesgroup.com