Growing Data Analytics and Analysts – Of Jump-Starts and Tangents (Part 1)

August 30, 2016

In 2015, a group of young, newly-minted Data Analysts from Pointwest competed in a Kaggle competition. Known as the “Olympics of Data Science,” Kaggle contests attract the best and the brightest of Data Science and Analytics, competing as much for the prestige as they are for the monetary rewards from the sponsors of the contests.

Against this veteran field, these newly-trained Data Analysts placed in the top 6% of those who competed in the contest. With just five weeks of immersion into Data Science, it was quite the feat for them.

Pointwest Data Analysts Working Together
Data Analytics Bootcampers Working Together with Data Scientist, Evelyn Jacinto

Jump-Starting Analytics

Pointwest recognized as early as 2012 that industries would be disrupted by emerging technologies: Social, Mobile, Analytics and Cloud Computing. Within the decade, demand for services in data engineering and data science, major service offerings under Analytics, saw a manifold increase.

But, there was a big challenge.

The people who could adequately fill the roles in Analytics were few. According to a study by McKinsey, there will be by 2018 a shortage of 140,000 to 190,000 Big Data specialists, and 1.5 million managers and analysts trained to use  processed data these specialists will make. Those numbers were all in the US alone. No school, no matter how prestigious, can hope to fill that gap.

Faced with that gap, Pointwest thought of a different strategy: come up with a training program that can field good data scientists in a short amount of time.

The end result was a five-week intensive boot camp that transformed graduates of Statistics and Mathematics from the country’s top schools into “budding but capable Data Scientists.”

Going on a Different Tangent

The young men and women who took the experimental bootcamp did not start out life as Data Scientists. Most of them came from Statistics and Mathematics courses. Some were aware of Big Data prior to the bootcamp; to some, it was a new concept entirely.

Interestingly, those who were aware of Big Data often mention a talk given by Isaac Reyes, an Australian Data Scientist, who was one of the designers of the experimental bootcamp. Rustico, Cristine, and Marianne all talk about being introduced to Big Data by Isaac during a colloquium gave in their school.

“He discussed various trends in Data Science like how consumers journey from clicking an ad to actually buying the product. That colloquium changed the way I see Statistics; it made me appreciate it even more.” Marianne, Data Analytics Bootcamper

Isaac’s talk had an even bigger impact on Cristine, who said that she was made to believe that, “Data Science really is the next big thing in this world where various kinds of overwhelmingly numerous amount of data is coming at a very fast speed.”

The Data Analyst Bootcampers
The Data Analytics Bootcampers

“Data Scientists are the heroes needed to manage, analyze, interpret and put this pouring data in its maximum use,” Cristine said. She adds that the talk made her dream of being a Data Scientist.

Several other members of the team only discovered Big Data from the bootcamp. For Statistics grad Bianca, she was just looking for a job that allowed her to use what she learned in school. Lucky for Bianca, Pointwest had openings for someone like her.

“To understand, analyze, and interpret data has always been the mantra of Statistics, and while the term Data Science was unfamiliar, the tasks expected from us fit the bill. The chance to learn more tools to achieve that enticed me to take the position and go through the bootcamp.” Bianca, Data Analytics Bootcamper

“Data Scientist” was also new to Juan Gabriel and Franz. Taking to the Internet and Google, the two found out that the role being offered by Pointwest to them was something that could be up their alley.

“After a quick research, I found out that the job requires a combination of skills from Statistics and Computer Science and I loved the idea of it. I just thought that learning to be a Data Scientist gives me a unique skillset and endless opportunities.” Juan Gabriel, Data Analytics Bootcamper

In the second part of this series, the young Data Scientists talk about their experiences during the bootcamp, and give a couple of observations on its potential impact on the state of Big Data in the Philippines.


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