Case study

Business information manager — Adam Shooter

Adam uses the numerical and analytical skills he developed in both of his degrees to meet the needs of his employers

How did you get your job in data science?

I began working for the University of Nottingham in a temporary position, where I was introduced to report writing and data analysis within a business setting. From there I worked in a central strategy and planning function, undertaking more advanced data analysis before progressing to my current position of business information manager.

What are your main work activities?

A typical working day usually involves a fair bit of time spent in front of the computer interrogating and analysing data, building datasets and generating reports. I also meet with colleagues and clients to determine what it is they're trying to understand from data and ensuring that the information I deliver is fully understood.

What do you enjoy about your job?

I enjoy watching someone's eyes light up after I've helped them understand a situation they were trying to grasp, or when I can back up their anecdotal beliefs with a solid analysis to support their views. Even disproving someone's belief can be enjoyable, because you know it will ultimately lead to them making more informed future decisions.

Day-to-day I just enjoy working with data, as through my work I'm exposed to a variety of datasets that hold all sorts of possibilities.

What are the challenges?

Data-based roles come with a stigma attached. Some perceive the work as boring, others see us as working some strange form of magic. My main challenge comes from working to help people overcome these perceptions, making them comfortable understanding and interacting with data.

There are technical challenges too, such as trying to combine disparate datasets to achieve a particular analytical outcome, but for myself and many others this is also where the enjoyment of the job comes from.

How is your degree relevant?

My BSc Zoology and MSc International Business work very well together for this position. Zoology, as a scientific subject, has helped me develop my mathematical and analytical skills, along with a firm grasp of scientific and statistical methodologies. My Masters has given me a deeper understanding of how businesses work, and identifying what's useful in making informed decisions.

How has your role developed? What are your career ambitions?

My role is always developing in one way or another. Often it's some form of new data, a new method of analysis, a way of communicating information or applying my skills towards different purposes such as more general information processing. The principles within data science can be useful in many areas as a lot is driven by a logic, and logic is always useful.

In terms of my ambitions I’m always looking for the next data challenge, but also I feel very passionate about teaching others how to work and get involved with data.

Any words of advice for someone wanting to get into this job?

  • Get involved and start analysing and working with data now. There are lots of free datasets out there and many analytical platforms offer free licenses for personal use (Tableau, QlikView, Microsoft Power BI etc.). If you enjoy what you do, there are many online communities where you can share your work to start getting recognised for your skills.
  • Do some reading. Data is a field that moves very quickly and likes to challenge itself. Big data analytics are becoming more prominent in most industries around the world, so there's lots of different perspectives out there to explore.
  • Keep learning. The technologies underpinning this field develop incredibly quickly. The top software or process one year can become outdated in the next. It's important not to get yourself tied into one particular piece of software - ultimately they all try to achieve a similar thing so it's good to diversify as each business may have a different preference for what tool is used.

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