Scientists, engineers, analysts, wranglers.
The data industry seems to be exploding with new titles and job profiles every day and there is an apparent increasing trend in people trying to enter the specialist field that is data science. There are some organisations however that take more of a generalist approach as consultants.
For Forecast, the client always comes first. A small and nimble team allows everyone to pitch in and contribute unlike larger tech firms where roles have more defined responsibilities. As the company's Head of Analytics, Paul van Loon, explains, “Ensuring the team has a diverse set of skills means that we are able to tackle virtually all client challenges regardless of required tools or experience. While some might have their primary backgrounds in web technologies, building pipelines, cloud tech, or any other industry or tech background, we are ultimately just problem solvers.”
Paul van Loon talks to Fyte's Ali Hussnain about the importance of problem solving in data analytics jobs.
‘Relational database experience’
While cross training their consultants, Forecast acknowledges that its people will broadly fall into one of three buckets: data scientists, data engineers and business intelligence and insights analysts. “The consultants might have varying degrees of skills in each of the main roles but they will still be able to practice and develop all of them,” adds van Loon. “As well as being problem solvers, they will all have relational database experience to be able to store and retrieve data.”
Paul van Loon talks about the three main data science roles at Forecast.
Stepping out of your comfort zone
Being a consultant in a small company like Forecast means lots of variety and exposure - to different industries and skill sets. "The team is constantly on a very steep learning curve as they move from project to project and client to client. If you’re working with Python today, you must be prepared to work with Power BI tomorrow, Google Cloud the next day and so on,” remarks van Loon.
“Jumping from one tech stack to another can be intimidating for some or exciting for others – it might even be the main reason they got into consultancy,” he notes. “This doesn’t mean that you won’t be working on projects where you will be able to draw on your specialist industry and tech experience. But if you’re not prepared to step out of your comfort zone, consultancy might not be the right choice for you.”
Paul van Loon discusses the multi-faceted role of a Forecast data consultant.