FEATURE19 May 2014

Data basics

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Fancy a career in data science? Former Google engineer Sean Owen reveals what you need to succeed in this century’s most desirable vocation. Interview by Brian Tarran.


It was 2012 when the Harvard Business Review declared data scientist to be “the sexiest job of the 21st century”. Thomas H Davenport and DJ Patil defined the data scientist as a new breed of “high- ranking professional with the training and curiosity to make discoveries in the world of big data”.

Demand for this type of role was set to increase as the amount of data that companies had to deal with grew ever larger. But still experts in the field talk of a looming shortage of people with the necessary skills to do the work. The jobs are out there, and they pay well – Silicon Valley start rate for an entry-level position is $110, 000 (£68, 000 ). So why should there be a shortage of candidates?

“Most of the work is just a lot of engineering and a little statistics – and it doesn’t feel sexy”

Impact Magazine sat down with ...