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The analytics skills you need, according to industry experts

29 Jul 2022

We sought some expert advice from an analytical chemist and a data scientist about the critical skills needed within the world of analytics.

Click here to view the full Analytics Week series.

As Analytics Week draws to a close on SiliconRepublic.com, we wanted to hear from a couple of industry professionals about some of the critical technical skills that people need to know if they want to work in analytics.

Nathaniel Forde is a data scientist at HR tech company Personio. He said that there are now more tools and tutorials than ever before to help with any data task you might need to complete.

“Whether you’re modelling or data munging, you must find the tool that helps you think analytically – in code,” he said.

“The actual framework you’re using is irrelevant, instead you must ask yourself a few questions. Can you use the tool to succinctly express your analysis? Can you present how the data-generating process has resulted in patterns you see? Can you argue compellingly for why this methodology and not another?

“The bottom line is that the critical technical skill is critical thinking. It always has been, and always will be.”

He also said for those starting out in a career in data science and analytics, it’s important not to study data science in isolation and “don’t waste time on toy datasets or algorithmic benchmarks”.

“Instead, you should use real-world messy data to solve your problem. This will enable you to either answer a question which people care about, or to discover a topic you care about and then prove to others why they should also care,” he said.

“Don’t mistake statistical significance for importance. What is important to you will come across powerfully to any job interviewer.”

‘Familiarity with instrumentation is very useful’
– PAUL O’DONOGHUE

Analtyics and data also play a strong role in the world of chemistry. Paul O’Donohue is an analytical chemist at chemical and consumer goods manufacturer Henkel. He said digital literacy has become an essential component of the job.

“Most hardware is improving gradually. However, the changes in software capabilities are developing at a much greater rate. Modern equipment generates vast amounts of data, all of which needs manipulation, processing and interpretation,” he said.

“Familiarity with instrumentation is very useful. Inevitably, there will be times when an analytical instrument breaks down. The ability to identify sources of instrument failure reduces laboratory downtime and can increase or maintain productivity levels.”

In his sector, O’Donohue added that a strong ability to find faults expedites repairs by original equipment manufacturing engineers when necessary.

“My advice to someone starting out in the world of analytical chemistry is to educate yourself in as many analytical techniques as possible. In this way, you will identify what particular areas interest you and in what techniques you would like to specialise. Then, follow your instincts and work to gain that deep expertise required of the role,” he said.

“Software has become more important in analytical chemistry. However, don’t rely solely on the output from your computer. Ask yourself: ‘Does the result make sense?’ Develop an understanding of the capabilities and limitations of your hardware and comprehend how the software interacts with the hardware to unleash the true potential of the instrument and enhance its capabilities.”

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Jenny Darmody
By Jenny Darmody

Jenny Darmody became the deputy editor of Silicon Republic in 2020, having worked as the careers editor until June 2019. When she’s not writing about the science and tech industry, she’s writing short stories and attempting novels. She continuously buys more books than she can read in a lifetime and pretty stationery is her kryptonite. She also believes seagulls to be the root of all evil and her baking is the stuff of legends.

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