Story|

Necessary Skills to Work with Data

How technology is affecting businesses today.

Written by Philip Baker
Image
woman presenting to men

Hear from an instructor in the Data Analytics for Business Professionals certificate on how the latest developments in technology affect the way businesses use data today and the skills workers need to stay abreast of these changes and excel in their careers.

“Value today is locked in data and deriving insight from that data is critical to a company’s success and growth,” says Ashish Pujari, an instructor at UChicago who teaches “Data Understanding and Preparation” in the Data Analytics for Business Professionals certificate. “Even if you’re not going to become a data analyst, combining the tools and skill sets that go along with knowing about data will help in whatever role you have today.”

New Approach to Data

With an undergraduate degree in electrical engineering and an overall focus on technology, Pujari began his career in the IT sector. Working with a broad range of companies, from financial institutions to communications companies, he spent this part of his career programming while building customer-facing applications and web-based solutions. 

“It was work I enjoyed and it still makes up part of what I do today,” says Pujari, who’s presently a director at the Gerson Lehrman Group responsible for the engineering and innovation of their data and analytics platforms. “But over the first ten years of my career, a major shift and re-focus began taking place in the way companies use technology. Legacy systems got replaced by an approach that centers around gathering, organizing, and deriving insight from data.”

Adapting to Change

Having taken note of this shift, Pujari set out to acquire the skills necessary to adapt. After completing the Master of Science in Analytics program, where he’s now an instructor teaching “Deep Learning and Image Recognition” and “Data Engineering Platforms for Analytics,” he went on to combine his enhanced math and statistics skills with his software development background.

“My role today is more strategic,” he says. “It revolves mostly around data organization and governance and determining how to store data so that users can easily access it and derive insights from it. But I concentrate on flow too, making sure the data gets extracted properly and then arrives in the right place in a clean and usable condition. All of this is very much the focus of my course for the Data Analytics for Business Professionals certificate.”

Practical, Interactive, and Online

In “Data Understanding and Preparation,” which is the first of four six-week courses students take to earn the certificate, Pujari says the focus is on the variety of sources from which data is gathered, as well as the different ways it then gets cleaned, transformed, and organized in a database. Students also have an opportunity interact with real data sets through SQL queries and Excel dashboards while engaging with aspects of visualization as well.

“The course is quite rigorous and we take SQL to a very advanced level,” Pujari says. “We also do some training in open source.”

“A definite strength to the Data Analytics certificate program,” he adds, “is how interactive and practical the courses are. Despite being online, the weekly sync session brings everyone together and the final team project gives students the opportunity to become confident with the tools while also engaging in the sort of experience that scales very well to real-world job situations.”

Additional Stories