KPMG’s Jitesh Goyal shares the traits and skills needed for an analytics career and gives his top tips for someone starting out.
Jitesh Goyal leads the data and analytics strategy capability in the applied intelligence practice of KPMG Ireland.
He has been working in the data and analytics domain for 16 years and has delivered solutions to complex problems across a number of sectors and geographies. His first job involved working with large datasets to derive business metrics for reporting.
“It helped me to understand the basics of data and learn the various techniques and methods to extract, manipulate and analyse the data. While the reporting helped to assess what happened, analytics was the real game changer as it could be used to understand the hidden patterns in the data and make predictions for future decision-making,” he told SiliconRepublic.com.
“I was impressed by the power of data and analytics and how it can really enable facts-based business decision making for organisations. This experience, combined with my interest in numbers, propelled me towards a career in analytics.”
In his current role, Goyal and his team work with organisations across a variety of sectors to understand their challenges related to data management, architecture, business intelligence and analytics capabilities, and then develop strategies to address those challenges.
‘Before collecting data and doing analysis on it, it’s critical to understand the business problem’
– JIDESH GOYAL
What were the biggest challenges you encountered on your career path in analytics?
The whole domain of data and analytics has undergone a massive transformation over the last 10 years and it continues to evolve. The sheer increase in the volume of data available for analysis and computing power to process and analyse the data is phenomenal.
So, there is a constant need and an opportunity for me to learn latest methods and tools, which can be used in developing efficient and accurate data and analytics solutions. I do this by participating in structured learning courses on specific relevant topics. My project teams also play a crucial role in my learning as I am able to learn from their knowledge and experiences and apply the skills on the projects I am working on.
The other main challenge is to adapt to different industries and understand the business data for developing relevant solutions. While working across different sectors is a good opportunity to get a broader perspective, it can be difficult to understand the business context, macro factors and data definitions in a short span of time.
To navigate this challenge, I engage with internal industry SMEs for getting industry insights and reach out to teams who have worked in the same industry before to solve similar business challenges.
Was there any one person who was particularly influential as your career developed?
I have been working with Kieran Towey, head of applied intelligence at KPMG Ireland, for last number of years. I have been influenced by his relentless focus on value and use of technology in making the existing manual processes more efficient.
This has helped me to prioritise and focus on the right relevant areas as I progressed through my career and has helped me to achieve success.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
The most enjoyable part of the job is working with people from diverse backgrounds to solve complex problems for organisations. People in our team come from research, consulting, engineering, analytics and start-ups. There is also a good mix of graduates and experienced professionals.
By working in these diverse multidisciplinary teams, I get an opportunity to learn from experiences of others and get into robust discussions for coming up with the best possible outcome for the engagements I am working on.
The other important aspect is the culture of KPMG, which values and promotes cross-collaboration across different functions such as technology, strategy, people and change etc. This not only provides a different perspective to the problem I am working on but also helps me to cross-skill in different areas.
What aspects of your personality do you feel make you suited to analytics?
I believe the analytics process is very structured and every step in the process is equally important. Attention to detail is needed to achieve expected end results from the analytics process.
Being a detail and process-oriented person, I like the whole process of understanding the data, doing initial explorations to detect patterns etc, and coming up with the right feature set for analytics solutions.
I am also an organised person and hence can closely relate to the storytelling side of analytics. While analytics solution development is important, it’s equally important to present the results in a manner which can be understood by the end user and hence is a crucial part of the process.
What can people expect from career progression in the analytics industry?
The whole data and analytics industry is growing at a rapid pace, and the trend will continue in the medium term. So, there are ample career growth opportunities in the data engineering, analytics, visualisation and AI space.
At KPMG, there are defined career pathways for people depending on their interest areas. Each career pathway is designed based on the discussions with the individual and learning support is provided for the individual to progress along that pathway. This helped me to visualise the direction I need to travel which is aligned with my personal goals as well as with the business goals.
I have attended several in-person trainings at KPMG for learning new concepts and tools. KPMG also provided access to various online learning platforms which I have used for my self-paced learning. So, overall there a number of resources available for continuous learning and progress on the defined career pathway.
What advice would you give to those considering a career in analytics?
I think with the emergence of technology, the focus these days is more on the analytics techniques and less on the process of developing analytics solutions. It’s important to remind ourselves that success of the analytics methods is largely dependent on good quality data and well-defined features.
Hence, for anyone aspiring to build a career in analytics, it’s critical to have a good understanding of the analytics lifecycle and potential pitfalls in that development process. The first step in that process is business understanding, which I believe is fundamental to success of any analytics project.
Before collecting data and doing analysis on it, it’s critical to understand the business problem, have clear visibility of the end goal and then determine how analytics will help achieve that end goal – so start with the end in mind.
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