The second half of the Women in Analytics Conference continued with break-out sessions and networking opportunities. As the attendees settled in for the rest of the day, three common points were heard across all of the discussions:
- finding a purple unicorn that possesses all the skills needed in data science is improbable; therefore, you need to look to assemble a team
- the educational discipline in which you studied is often irrelevant, what is relevant is curiosity and the ability to collaborate
- data science/analytics team are often repurposed from other roles and responsibilities and nascent teams need to put together a new identity and look for quick wins to shore up their legitimacy as a new organizational entity to prevent individuals from getting pulled into traditional work
Many of the sessions in the afternoon and the keynote during dinner focused on starting, building and keeping teams together. Sandy Steiger discussed the importance of focusing on re-investing in staff so that they stick with the company. With data scientists and analysts in such high demand, she pointed out that it’s hard enough to attract talent, but keeping talent is a wholly different endeavor.
One of the most interesting things to emerge with bringing so many different types of organizations and roles together is that we were able to network and find out how different companies had structured teams and in which department they resided. The common theme in this conversation is that the data analytics or science team(s) are often odd ducks sitting in a traditional IT department, but marketing has not yet made the leap to see how they should do more than liaise with the team. Many data professionals felt that they were an island unto themselves and it poses the question if we’re not seeing the org chart about to get disrupted with the data teams becoming the center of a hub-and-spoke organizational model because they are closest to the customer.
The implications of data science and the adoption of AI and machine learning are so vast that the conference ended with the invitation to get more involved in the community. It’s clear that this conference and working group is here to stay and Columbus will be the host city for a tremendous number of meeting of the data minds from here on out.