Building and Defining A Data Science Team

What will senior data scientists look for when they build their data teams?


Back in 2012 the Harvard Business Review called the Data Scientist role 'the sexiest job in the world'. The role continues to be one of the world's most in-demand jobs, with the The McKinsey Global Institute predicting that there will be a shortage of between 140,000 to 190,000 of people with expert data skills.

In this article I will go through what companies actually want from data scientist teams and the skills that prospective data scientists need to learn.

As the job is concerned with data, many assume that they are going to need a maths, science or computer background to be considered for a role. Although having a knowledge of these areas will do no harm, there's been a move towards looking for candidates who are multitalented, so that they can take ideas from one field and apply them to another. Prospective data scientists should concentrate on having a wide field of expertise and should be comfortable within a number of fields.

When putting together a data scientist team, managers will put a lot of emphasis on collaboration and an individual's ability to communicate with people that are from different backgrounds. The importance of collaboration is something that's always mentioned in job descriptions, but it's absolutely essential for data scientists and those who like to work alone won't be viewed in a good light compared to those who prefer to work in a collaborative environment.

With the enormous datasets that data scientists have to analyse, conscientiousness is essential, with companies demanding that nothing slips through the net. When building a team, senior data scientists will be wary of the fact that employing someone who's careless could be disastrous to the outcome of their team's projects.

Extroverts may well be more desirable than introverts also, as having introverted members of your team can cause communication to break down. Additionally, it's important that data scientists can stand up in front of a room communicate their findings to a large amount of people. For candidates who tend to bottle things up, they will have to learn to be confident around their colleagues and trust that they value their opinions.

The points above are just a few indicators of what senior scientists will look for when they put together their data teams. Above all, it's imperative that the data scientists of tomorrow are multi talented, conscientious and excellent communicators.


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