10 tips to accelerate your career in analytics

Ajay Ohri

As an experienced analytics person with nearly a decade of experience in all forms of analytics , including off shored projects, in-house captive projects, transitioning projects across geographies, and consulting on my own business- I am often asked on tips to accelerate careers in analytics.

I have tried here to summarize this in a top 10 list based on my personal experiences- the 10 tips to accelerate your career in analytics.

1. LEARN NEW THINGS Managing your learning is important to time management as well as personal growth. For example, I keep aside at least one hour daily to read new stuff in analytics, and make a point to learn one new technical or business fact everyday. Over a period of ten years that makes it 3652 new facts that I would know, assuming I do my daily work as well and keep revising what i learn. There is a lot of material out there on the Internet, and you have very limited time to add learning time to your daily routine. Defining a target time to read, and sources to read from, and lists of topics to read on helps me maximize the returns on my learning time. I think of it as daily exercise for my analytical muscles.

2.  MULTIPLE DOMAINS – BROADEN EXPOSURE Learn multiple business domains- I started my career primarily in analytics for Financial Services but over a period of time learning more about automobiles, telecom and entertainment business domains. The reason for this was growth is cyclical to sectors and boom times of sectors differ. So if one sector shows fewer projects or lower growth, I could still be relevant and gain more projects in other domains.

Being an expert in just one business domain also has the danger of branding you in that domain, and reducing your mobility options as you grow older as an analytics professional. In other words, put your eggs in more than one basket.

3.  MULTIPLE PLATFORMS -DIVERSE SKILLS Learn multiple platforms- I know of many SAS language experts who complain that they find learning R difficult, and many people with SPSS language who want to learn SAS language to get SAS-based jobs. Many R programmers find learning C++ useful. As you grow older, it is difficult for you to learn completely new programming languages. Diversifying your skill sets helps you in reducing your dependencies on that software, or even that software maker. It also helps you get many more jobs than if you know just one platform well.

4.  FOCUS- Be very good in at least one business domain, one platform and one analytical technique. Expertise matters and gives credibility. Credibility helps implement decisions. As a business analyst you would be in an advisory position. Having published articles, books, blogs or white papers helps solidify your expertise. In order to truly be an expert you have to update your learning in your chosen area continuously.

5.  NETWORK- Choose your online networks wisely and people whom to follow. This includes Quora, Stack Overflow, LinkedIn Groups, Email groups for learning and Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter for simply networking. Networking is an important part of professional life and is often the difference between easy transitions between jobs, companies as well as getting help on your projects.

6.  STATISTICS – Having some statistical training is essential to an analytics career. It is also important to keep abreast of the latest statistical developments and multiple techniques for modeling, forecasting, hypothesis testing and strategy formulation. This is one area that needs constant and continuous revision to keep your skills updated.

7.  PROGRAMMING- It is important to be both an efficient programmer with maximum processing using minimum system resources and time, fast in writing or revising code, as well as to write well-documented code. These are programming habits that need to be built over a period of time, but they will help you get credit in analytical projects.
Documentation is helpful in managing large projects and helps in training as well as communication of the projects. It may seem time-consuming but it ends up saving much more time in the overall project.

8.  DATA QUERYING AND STORAGE- Getting the right data, merging large datasets and storing data efficiently is a skill that greatly helps with analytical projects. Data issues consume much more time and analysis is totally dependent on the data that is entered. Knowledge of databases, efficient querying techniques, and manipulating data cubes helps in giving you the edge on your analytical skills.

9.  CERTIFICATIONS- Certifications including those by SAS Institute , Google , IBM help to further undermine your credibility. On their own these certifications do not achieve much, but when used in combination with other skills and experiences they can give an edge over non-certified personnel.

10) PRESENTATION SKILLS- Presentation skills include creating both documents and presentations (usually in Word, PDF or PowerPoint) and also speaking skills. Practising these skills is necessary to create and reinforce the right impression.

This is the top ten lists on accelerating your career in analytics. What do you think- is there any other way you can turbo charge and accelerate your career by applying your analytical skills.

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