- What skills are most important for a data analyst to succeed in their job or industry?
- Is it more important to learn how to code and solve problems than to excel at public speaking or deal with people?
- What industries will be impacted most by analytics?
- What impact will privacy rules have on data analytics practices?
More than 75 undergraduate and graduate students gathered at the University of Connecticut’s Stamford campus last week to explore these questions at an information session, “Data and Your Career: How Data Analytics Will Impact Your Career.” The event, hosted by UConn’s student-run Data Analytics Club, featured a Q&A with Christopher Lafond, CFO of Insurity, a provider of property and casualty insurance technology. (He’s also a UConn alumni and a former Gartner CFO.)
I decided to attend the session, intrigued by the idea that students had established an organization dedicated to data analytics. (To be sure, student organizations, such as chess and debate clubs, still exist.)
At the club meet-up, the students heard about the traits of successful data analysts. They include:
- Communication skills – listening, speaking and writing. “You can be one of the smartest financial people in the room, one of the smartest marketing people in the room. If you cannot communicate your message to other people well, it will be really hard to be successful,” Lafond said.
- Analytical thinking. “Being able to look at a problem and drive an organization to think about the problem in thoughtful way with data and analytics,” he said.
- Business acumen. Understanding the business and potential problems that will be solved by fact-based insights.
At Gartner, our research for marketing leaders underscores these same points. “Strong analysts are hard to come by, often because their discipline incorporates competencies across business, technical and analytical skills,” says Lizzy Foo Kune, senior director analyst, Gartner for Marketing Leaders, in the report, “Toolkit: Job Description for Hiring a Marketing Analytics Practitioner.” In marketing, skill sets typically break out across four categories: marketing measurement and optimization, reporting, advanced analytics and data science, and governance and infrastructure.
Students who organized and attended the UConn event demonstrated they have the soft skills required of analytics leaders – whether they pursue careers in marketing, finance, sales or other business functions. They are curious, articulate and committed to understanding the impact that analytics will have on their careers and prospective employers.
H/T to Data Analytics Club President Carmen Sanz and other club leaders for organizing this event.