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With over 10 years experience working solely in the Data & Analytics sector our consultants are able to offer detailed insights into the industry.
Visit our Blogs & News portal or check out our recent posts below.
Mridul Mathur is a skilled Senior Program Director with more than 15 years of experience working in businesses from Deutschebak to Dyson. He has a proven track record of successfully delivering large and complex cross-functional programs and building high performing teams from scratch. In last five years the main focus of his work has been in the area of Data Management to address the issues and challenges organisations have faced in the wake of various new regulations. Data Management and Data Governance are hot topics at the moment. Do you feel that attitudes have changed towards the fields since the beginning of your career? It’s been a very big shift. Going back to my involvement at Deutsche Bank around 2007, we were managing Data purely because we needed to create a Credit Risk position so that we could explain to the Bank of England and other regulators what we were doing. We didn’t really look beyond that. But now, if you look at the industry, we want to use Data to not only calculate our Risk position but to derive value out of that Data. It's something that can give a company a competitive advantage one of those things that can significantly change a business. I personally feel that the turning point, not just for Deutsche Bank but for everybody was the market crash that happened in 2008. A lot of the company did not have Data Management skills, or the ability to bring the Data together to understand exposures. Those who had exposure against Lehman, for example, could not recover any of the money they lost. That was the big turning point for all of them, when they actually lost hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of revenue and loans overnight. They didn’t have the right Data, in the right place, and it cost them. What major issues do you see successful Data Governance facing over the next 12 months? I think we're still going through a phase of understanding and internalizing the issue. By that I mean that we understand that our Data is important and how it can help us not only manage Risk but create value. But, when it comes to actually applying it, we are hamstrung by two things: One is that we haven't quite grasped the ways in which we can internalise that Data. We understand the value but the actual application is not really out there currently. Secondly, I think that in some places, we have too much activity. I've been in places where there have been competing Data agendas and competing Data Governance ideas. When people are not taking their organisational view and just looking to get ahead, it’s hard to achieve any real success. If you were advising a company about to commence on a large Data Management transformation project, what advice would you give them? This links to the previous point really, and it’s a bigger issue in large companies. You need to have a business approach to Data Governance, as well as the IP capabilities to deal with a project of that scale. And what you find sometimes is that multiple groups get together and they each have a different view of what good looks like. They end up not communicating throughout the organisation and properly aligning everybody’s roles and responsibilities. These different agendas then end up causing issues because everyone has a different idea of what they want. We need to be able to plan across the organization to get the right agenda and get the right properties in place. Then you can start the work, as opposed to each team just working where they think the biggest problem lies first. What would you say are the biggest threats to a successful Data Management program? Obviously the above is one, but it leads to another which is really the lack of Senior Management sponsorship. If you don’t get the right level of sponsorship, then you don’t get the mandate to do what you need. This can cause huge delays and is definitely one of the biggest threats to your program being a success. In finance, you worked within a highly regulated industry. How have your approaches changed now that you’re in a highly innovative, tech-driven environment? The approach is different. We do have challenges that others don't, but over and above, because we innovate and create things, there is an abundance of new information. Information protection and intellectual property protection is therefore at the top of the agenda. That drives the need for effective Data Governance and it really has to be at the forefront of the approach. Data breaches have caused widespread reputational damage to companies such as Facebook and Yahoo. Have you found that companies now view Data protection as central to their commercial performance? Absolutely. People realize that they not only need Data to do their business, but they also need to protect that Data. These breaches have resulted in a greater importance being given to this function and every year I see it moving closer to the center of the organisation. There are very few large organisations left that haven’t recognized Data Protection as one of their formal functions. A lot of companies are now looking to build out their Data Protection teams from the ground up, starting with lower levels of analysts, but also management as well. It’s becoming a much greater priority and these big breaches are one of the driving factors. What do you feel will be the most effective technical advancement within Data Management in 2019? I think, from a technological perspective, we still have some way to go with digital rights management. There’s now one or two solutions that are supposed to be at Enterprise level, but they’re not enough and they’re still not joining the digital rights management side of things with the Big Data Loss Prevention side. So companies are having to rely on seeing this together with a combination of plugin software and various tools and technology. It’s sticking around the edges of the edges of a fix, but it’s not actually doing the job. I'd like to see these technologies develop because I think we're crying for some help in this area. What is the biggest risk to their Data that businesses should be aware of? Not knowing where to get hold of Data. It is just mind boggling to me, that there has not been a single company that I have been a part of where we started a program and we knew where to get all our Data from. Obviously we knew where most of it was, but we didn’t know where else it was and that what we were looking at was a comprehensive set of maps. It just continues to be the same at every business I have worked at. What role does data governance have to play in protecting a business’ intellectual property? It plays a huge role. Firstly, a company needs to be very clear on their Data policies. This means regularly training teams on the importance of this, much like you would with health and safety. By clearly defining and educating people on the dos and don’ts of data handling you can better protect your intellectual property. I think getting the policy framework right and implementing it using digital rights management is crucial and good Data Governance relies on this. When hiring for your teams, which traits or skills do you look for in candidates? There are two key parts; one is technical and the other non-technical. In my mind, it’s less about the technical because, ultimately, I just want someone who knows how to use ‘technology x’. They need to be able to make use of Data from a database, or be able to spot Data in an unstructured environment. But, for me, the most important skill is more of a characteristic: tenacity. I use the word tenacity because you have to put yourself out there. You have to ask people questions and you have to educate them. You can’t assume that people just understand Data you’re presenting them and you have to become their friends and learn to speak their language. It also really brings in the skill of being able to work with teams and across teams. Being a team player would absolutely be top of my list. Mridul spoke to Femi Akintoye, a Recruitment Consultant in our Data & Technology function. Take a look at our latest roles or get in touch with Femi.
17. April 2019
Whilst the role of Data Scientist is still considered one of the most desirable around, many businesses are finding that a shortage of strong, experienced talent is preventing them from growing their teams sufficiently. With a huge demand for such a small talent base, enterprises have begun to ask what they can do to ensure that they can secure the skillsets they need. If you’re looking at hiring a Data Scientist, there are a few key Do’s and Don’ts that you need to bear in mind: THE DO’S Create A Clear Career Path In most companies, a career path is defined. Usually you grow from junior to senior to manager etc. However, Data Scientists often like to become experts rather than moving up the traditional career ladder into people management roles. And, once a Data Scientists becomes an expert, they want to remain an expert. To do this, they need to keep up with the latest tools and data systems and continually improve. That’s why it’s important that you put in place a clear career path that suits the Data Scientists. In addition to the possibility of leading teams on projects, businesses should provide opportunities for financial progression that reflect growing skillsets in addition to increased responsibilities. Let Them Be Inventive One of the biggest turn-offs for Data Scientists is lack of opportunities to try new techniques and technologies. Data Scientists can get bored easily if their tasks are not challenging enough. They want to work on a company’s most important and challenging functions and feel as though they are making an impact. If they are asked to spend their time on performing the same tasks all the time, they often feel under-utilised. Providing forward-looking projects, with innovative technologies, gives Data Scientists the opportunity to reinvent the way the company benefits from their Data. Provide Opportunities To Discover As part of their attitude of constant improvement, Data Scientists often feel that attending conferences or meet-ups helps them become better at their role. Not only are these a chance for them to meet with their peers and exchange their Data Science knowledge, they can also discover new algorithms and methodologies that could be of benefit to your business. Businesses that allow the time and budget for their team to attend these are seen as much more attractive prospects for potential employees in a competitive market. Give them the freedom they need Data Scientists are efficient workers who can both collaborate and work independently. Because of this, they expect their employers to trust that they will get the job done without feeling micro-managed. By offering flexible working, be it flexi-hours or working from home options, enterprises can make themselves a much more appealing place to work. THE DON’TS Hire The Wrong Skillset As many companies begin to introduce Data teams into their business, they can often attempt to hire for the wrong job. Generally, this will be because they automatically jump to wanting to hire a Data Scientist, but actually need a different role placed first. For example; a company may be looking to hire a Machine Learning specialist, but their data pipeline hasn't even been built yet. There are many talented candidates out there who want to work with the latest technology and solve problems in complex ways. But the reality is that a lot of businesses aren’t ready for their capabilities yet. Before hiring, asses what skillsets you really need and be specific in your search. Undervalue Their Capabilities There are still a large number of organisations that do not value Data within their culture and Data professionals pick up on this incredibly quickly. If they feel that their work is under appreciated, and they know that there is high demand for what they do, they will not waste their time sticking around. Ask yourself how you see your Data team contributing to the company as a whole and make this clear within your organisation. Advanced Data Scientists don't want to work on dashboarding so make sure that their work will have an impact and explain how you see this happening during the interview process. Additionally, be aware of other financial implications that their hire may have. It’s likely that they’ll need a supporting Data Engineer to work with and, if they don’t have access to one, they have another reason to look elsewhere. The Data Scientist market is a candidate-driven one and, as a result of this, businesses need to go the extra mile to ensure they get the best talent around. By offering a strong set of benefits, the opportunity to grow and progress, and an environment that values Data, enterprises can stand out amongst the crowd and attract the best Data Scientists on the market. If you’re looking for support with your Data Science hiring process, get in touch with one of our expert consultants who will be able to advise you on the best way forward.
11. April 2019
The Ski season may be drawing to a close, but it’s never too early to start planning for next year. Born and raised in the mountains of Austria, I have been skiing all of my life. For me, it’s about freedom, enjoying the views and forgetting about everything else. But, since I’ve stepped into the world of Data & Analytics, I started to asked myself “what can I learn from my work that I can apply to my skiing”? After having a look around, I began to discover ways in which Data could support my passion. I’ve pulled together some of the most interesting things I’ve discovered and created this handy guide to help you prepare for your next trip. Here’s how you can use data to create the perfect ski trip. Follow the snow Anyone who has skied before knows about the uncertainty before a trip. Will there be enough snow? Will the weather be good? Which resort is the most suited to my ability? Fortunately, somebody has already pulled this information together for you. Two "web spiders" were built via Scrapy, a Python framework used for data extraction, the first of which extracted ski resort data. The second spider, on the other hand, extracted daily snowfall data for each resort (2009 - present). After collecting Data from more than 600 ski resorts and spitting it into 7 main regions, the spiders were able to form a conclusion. The framework then pulled out key metrics, including the difficulty of runs, meaning that skiers are now able to decide which resort is most suitable for their ability. As for the weather, onthesnow.com has recorded snowfall data from all major resorts, every year since 2009. We all know that good snow makes any trip better, so the collected data here will help skiers ensure they are prepared for the right weather, or even plan their trip around where the snow will be best. Optimise your skis Ski manufacturing is a refined and complicated process, with each ski requiring many different materials to be built. Unfortunately, this often results in the best skis running out quickly as supply outspeeds demand. To help speed up and improve the process, companies are implementing technologies like IBM Cognos* that monitor entire supply chains so that no matter how much demand increases, they have the materials to meet it. Additionally, since the majority of companies have become more data-driven, production time has been reduced by weeks. Predictions for future demand has also become 50% more accurate, resulting in a drop of 30% idle time on production lines. Skip the Queue Tired of queuing for the ski lift? There’s good news. As they begin to make the most of data, ski resorts are introducing RFID* (Radio Frequency Identification) systems. These involve visitors purchasing cards with RFID chips included, allowing them to skip queues at the lifts as there is no need to check for fake passes. The data can then be utilised for gamification platforms to turn a skier’s time on the slopes into an interactive experience. The shift towards Big Data not only has advantages for the visitors, but the management are also benefiting. In the past, it has been difficult to analyse skier’s data. Now, with automated and proper data management, the numbers can be crunched seamlessly and marketing campaigns can be directed at how people actually choose to ski. Carve a Better Technique Skiing isn’t always easy, especially if you haven’t grown up with it. Usually, ski instructors are the solution but, in the age of Data & Analytics, there are other solutions. Jamie Grant and co-founder Pruthvikar Reddy have created an app called Carv 2.0, which allows you to be your own teacher. It works by using a robust insert that fits between the shell of your ski boots and the liner. It then gathers data from 48 pressure sensitive pads, and nine motion sensors. This data is fed to a connected match-box size tracker unit, sitting on the back of your boots, before being relayed via Bluetooth to the Carv App on your phone. Carv can then measure your speed, acceleration and ski orientation a staggering 300 times a second. Thanks to a complex set of algorithms this data is then converted into an easy to follow graphic display on your phone’s screen as well as verbal feedback from Carvella. The accuracy of this real-time data could make it a better instructor than any individual person. Data & Analytics are helping streamline every part of our lives. Whilst the above can’t guarantee a perfect ski trip, they can help us minimise risks and optimize our performance and experience. If you’re able to use data to improve day-to-day living, we may have a role for you. Take a look at our latest opportunities or get in touch with our expert consultants.
04. April 2019
The role of Data Scientist is one of the most in-demand jobs in the tech world now. But, given that it is still a relatively new job, in a relatively new field, a lot of companies are still struggling to source enough quality candidates for their team. Despite the demand, tech companies are very specific about the candidates they’d like to hire. Passing a Data Science interview can be very tricky, especially considering that businesses are looking for the right technical knowledge, business sense, and culture fit. With this in mind, here are five key tips for the Data Science interviewing process. By making sure you are prepared for the below, you’ll be able to ensure that you don’t sell yourself short. Have A Concise Overview Of Your Project Experience It’s imperative you prepare an overview of your successful Data Science projects. Hiring Managers aren’t interested in getting into every detail of your completed projects, but they do want to know that you have the right experience. Focus on key factors, highlighting the types of projects you’ve been working on and the successes you had as a result of those projects. Keep your achievements clear and concise. Show Your Communication Skills A good Data Scientist is more than just a good programmer. You need to be able to show that you can translate your findings into insights that can be understood by non-technical people in the business. During your interview, Hiring Managers may test your ability to step away from role-specific language. This is to asses whether you know how to engage with non-technical colleagues and parts of the business who may not understand the value of Data Science to the company. Bring Out Your USPs Companies will potentially be interviewing several candidates for a specific role, so it’s important that you are able to stand out. Consider what you have achieved that your fellow interviewees may not have. One good way to stand out is to have articles published on popular Data Science websites/blogs. From my experience, Hiring Managers see this as a big plus and it makes for a great talking point during the interview process. If you are looking to do this, you should always choose a unique topic and not something that is already explored a lot by others. On a similar note, you could highlight the Data Science projects you’ve achieved outside of work through platforms such as Kaggle.Know Your Computer Science Fundamentals Having a decent knowledge of Computer Science fundamentals, like algorithms is essential, especially if you are interviewing with tech companies. Whilst there are other elements to the role, you can expect questions related to programming, so for a Junior Data Scientist, I’d recommend practicing coding for a few days before your interview (if you are not doing this already in your day to day job). Have An Understanding Of How You’ll Fit In At The Company For some Tech companies, particularly start-ups, cultural fit is just as important, if not more so, than how good you are at coding. They’ll want to understand how you would react to different scenarios at work and whether or not you share the values of their company. For this reason, don’t be surprised to see a few team members join the interview as they look to see how you’ll fit in. Make sure you take a look at the company’s website, read their blogs and articles, and check their social media feeds in advance so that you have a good understanding of what the business is like. Remember, culture is a two-way fit so it’s about making sure the business is right for you, as much as it is right for them. The interviewing process can be tricky but, at Harnham, our expert consultants are here to support you through the entire recruitment process. We will always make sure you are prepared for your interview and will run you though the topics you can expect to come up. If you’re looking to take the next step in your Data & Analytics career, take a look at our latest opportunities or get in touch with one of our expert consultants to learn more.
28. March 2019