What is the Profile of a Data Scientist?
As I discussed in the session, on a basic level, Data Scientists possess and exhibit the five main qualities shown in my graphic below. Among the people I’ve spoken with, this profile of a Data Scientist really seems to be resonating.
In addition to possessing the “hard skills” of being quantitative and technically focused, Data Scientists also have versatile communication and collaboration skills, and an innate curiosity for exploring and experimenting with data. They also tend to be skeptical people, in that they are likely to ask a lot of questions around the viability of a given solution and whether it will really work. These behavioral traits are what separate someone who can work with others to use data to drive change, from someone merely building an interesting algorithm in their basement.
After attending the recent Data Science Summit in Las Vegas, I would say that these traits described many of the participants. The range of speakers was striking, spanning leading academic institutions that have thought leadership in Data Science (such as UC Berkeley @joehellerstein; Rice @hadleywickham; Stanford @jure; and Columbia @chrishwiggins), Data Scientists who have driven innovation in sports (@tarekkamil) and health care (@johnbrownstein), and others who are masters at telling stories with data (@jjhnumber27 and his site http://www.wefeelfine.org/). These people exemplify how these skills and behavioral traits together have the power to drive change and innovation across many disciplines.
In a brief EMCTV segment, I talked about my experience developing EMC’s Data Science course, the typical traits of Data Scientists, and people who seem to be coming out of the woodwork to change their careers and realign themselves toward careers in data science.
In my next post, I’ll highlight 2-3 typical profiles of people who are making the transition toward data science and steps they are taking to get there. Do you agree with this list of Data Scientist traits, or see other additional characteristics as critical? Let me know in the comments section.