Choosing the Right Analytics Program for Senior Professionals
Analytics India Magazine has released their annual ranking of Top 10 Executive Analytics Courses in India – Ranking 2017 and as part of this evaluation, has ranked the Executive Program in Business Analytics (EPBA) by SDA Bocconi and Jigsaw Academy as the best analytics course for senior professionals in India.
In the last 6 years, I have spoken to thousands of professionals aspiring to get into the field of analytics. Some of my most interesting conversations have been with senior professionals – people with 10 or more years of experience – who wish to enter this field.
A common query sounds something like this:
“I have 10+ years of experience in IT/Telecom/Finance/Sales/any other domain. I am looking to transition into analytics now. Which is the ideal course for me?”
Additionally, they may also say –
“I am in a management role right now. I would like to move into a similar role within analytics. Therefore, I am not expecting to do hands on coding in my new role in analytics. I am not looking to join as an entry level data scientist.”
There are plenty of learning options available now days. From free courses with no support to short term online courses with limited or full support to long term programs – there are choices galore.
So which course is ideal for a senior professional?
The answer to this depends on how serious you are about pursuing a career in analytics. Most people usually fall in 3 different stages of interest:
1. Exploring different domains – I am looking for a career shift. I am exploring different domains like cloud, IOT and analytics as the options. I want to learn more about each of these to see where I will fit in best.
If you are at this stage, it is best to not spend any money on courses. I would recommend taking up some free courses on platforms like Coursera or take some very cheap courses from Udemy. Skim through these courses, learn more about each domain and identify the one that fits your skills and interest the best.
2. I want to give analytics a try – I have done my initial research and I think analytics is the right domain for me. However, I am still not completely sure about it. I want to start learning some basic skills and see how it goes.
If you are at this stage, you can go ahead and invest in a short-term course. Your money investment will be under 50k and time investment will be between 5 to 10 hours a week for 10 to 15 weeks. This is still a significant investment, but you are not fully committed yet. If you don’t like what you are learning, you can still walk away with more knowledge about a hot field.
3. I am serious about analytics – I have done all my research. Based on the opportunities I see in the market, I have decided to pick up analytics skills. I am willing to commit time and money to this.
Why do I recommend a long-term course for senior professionals?
As a senior professional, an intensive long-term analytics programs brings you the best benefits:
- Most short-term courses are depth focused, while you need more breadth in your knowledge than depth. A long-term program will have a more comprehensive and well-rounded curriculum than a shorter one.
- Employers will see the fact that you have made a considerable investment into learning analytics skills (9 to 12 months) and they will appreciate your seriousness.
- Many of the long-term programs come with certification from respected academic institutes. The certification brand is also useful to have on your resume.
- You will need a long-term program with sufficient focus on the Capstone project. The Capstone project is a great way to learn hands-on for a senior professional and it plays an important part in their learning.
To sum up, I believe a senior professional who is serious about making a career shift into analytics will benefit greatly from a long term program with a well rounded curriculum, strong industry connect and a good certification.
The next question, of course is, which long term program is best suited for someone with 10+ years of experience.
How to choose the right program for you?
To identify the best program that fits your profile as a senior professional, here are some criteria that you should look at:
- Breadth of the curriculum: You need to look at a curriculum which provides you depth in one of the mainstream tools – R / Python/ SAS, a visualization tool like Tableau / QlikView / PowerBI, introduction to big data stack, machine learning algorithms and industry applications in various sectors.
- Profile of the class: Peer learning is much more important than the formal course work. You need to find a peer group with similar outlook and dedication towards learning. How many domains can you learn from your peer group?
- Credibility of the certifying institute: You need to know that the institute you are investing your time and money is worth the effort. Ask the following questions – How are the alumni of the institute doing? How many people have taken up courses from here? What are the majority of student and alumni reviews like?
- Quality of the capstone project: Check out the projects done by the students in the past. They should include projects in areas of consumer behavior, recommendation engines, machine learning etc. Make sure that the projects are on real life datasets and not academic datasets and the problems relate to real life business problems.
- Industry interactions: When you move jobs and industries after such a high experience, you need to network in industry and learn from the perspectives of industry experts. Make sure that industry interaction is 30% – 40% of the classroom interaction.
The Executive Program in Business Analytics (EPBA) program offered by SDA Bocconi and Jigsaw Academy is one of our programs that specifically targets senior professionals. The 5 criteria that I have mentioned above are the focus of the program for the management team as well as the Bocconi professors.
Firstly, we have ensured that the curriculum for the program is broad and covers everything from analytics to big data to machine learning and now even some stuff on IOT.
We have also ensured that the batch profile is consistent with our philosophy. More than 75% of the last batch had 10+ years of experience and more than a third had 15+ years. This means that the quality of the discussions in the class is very high and many of the industry experts who were called as guest faculty have vouched for this.
On the third point around the credibility of the certifying institute, our partnership with SDA Bocconi, which is one of Europe’s top universities, certainly helps. Over the last 3 years, we have managed to get many of our students to share their experience with the course and the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.
Based on this same student feedback, we started work on strengthening our Capstone projects. Students told us that they found a lot of value in these projects, especially after they go back to work. From the last batch onwards, we have gone out of our way to get good projects for all the students. We now also provide a lot of mentoring and support during the project. And we also ensue that there is adequate interaction with the organisation that has given the project so the business context around the project is clear to all students.
Lastly, of course, the industry interactions. We have lined up virtually the who’s who in analytics for the guest lectures. Faculty lectures are generously interspersed with talks by senior experts from finance, telecom, e-commerce and many other fields. If you read any of the EPBA student experiences, you will see that almost everyone has commented favourably on this aspect.
In the latest edition of the program, participants also have the option to spend 1 week in Milan where they will interact with the Bocconi faculty as well as Italian executives undertaking programs at the Milan campus. It promises to be a good networking opportunity.
So if you are a senior professional looking for the right analytics course, do have a look at the Executive Program in Business Analytics (EPBA).
And of course, read here the Analytics India Magazine is saying about this program.