Bright yellow tennis shoes against a bright red background, symbolising taking your first step towards working in data.
Image: © Bits and Splits/

What you need to know before stepping into a career in data

29 Jan 2021

Want to start working in data? From important skills to potential challenges, these insights might help.

Click here to view more articles on working in data.

Working in data – whether it’s as an analyst, scientist or anything in between – can be fulfilling and rewarding. We explored some of the reasons people have chosen to pursue a career in the industry this week, and why 2021 might just be the year you decide to do the same.

Accenture Ireland’s applied intelligence lead, Denis Hannigan, believes that bringing AI to every department of a company is well overdue. In this guest article, he explained the reasoning behind professionalising and democratising AI in the workplace.

“Multidisciplinary teams of diverse perspectives, skills and approaches must work together to innovate and deliver AI products or services,” he explained. “These teams, often headed by the chief AI, data or analytics officer, include data modellers, machine learning engineers and data quality specialists, to name a few.”

We were also treated to a guest post from Hays’ Brendan O’Donovan, who shared his thoughts on the impact of remote working on data roles.

As we continue to work from home, he wrote, data workers will be faced with a focus on security awareness, new opportunities for remote learning, more dependency on online data tools and a redefined working culture this year.

Working in data

Getting down into the ins and outs of actually working in the field, we spoke to two people who have been in this area for a number of years.

Rosaria Silipo has spent her career in data science and now works at Knime where she is a ‘data science evangelist’. She’s passionate about helping others engage with data science, encouraging women to pursue careers in it and challenging the misconception that it’s just all about numbers.

We also looked at the role of chief data scientist, which Anodot’s Ira Cohen told us more about. The responsibilities of a chief data scientist, he said, include overseeing data management, leading data strategies and improving the quality of data. He believes these functions will become increasingly important as businesses navigate the pandemic this year, particularly in predicting customer churn.

With all of this in mind, you might be wondering how to kick-start your own data career. We looked at six important skills to keep in mind, including technical skills like coding and visualisation and softer skills like communication and curiosity.

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Lisa Ardill
By Lisa Ardill

Lisa Ardill joined Silicon Republic as senior careers reporter in July 2019. She has a BA in neuroscience and a master’s degree in science communication. She is also a semi-published poet and a big fan of doggos. Lisa briefly served as Careers Editor at Silicon Republic before leaving the company in June 2021.

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