13010779_1324782484202432_6860439867789809493_nIf you hadn’t yet heard — big data is sort of a big deal.

In 2012, the Harvard Business Review described the Data Scientist job as “the sexiest job of the 21st century”. The article describes big data “as an epic wave gathering now, starting to crest. If you want to catch it, you need people who can surf.”

Fast-forward to 2016, Glassdoor ranks Data Scientist as number 1 in their “25 Best Jobs in America” report. As they point out, “it’s simply impossible to ignore the continuing importance of data, and our ability to analyze, organize, and contextualize it.”

Ready to surf? You don’t need to go far!

Right here in Louisville we have a petri dish for developing professionals in this area. Local employers like Genscape are clamoring for talent, and local university programs such as the Institute for Advanced Analytics at Bellarmine University and the University of Louisville’s Department of Computer Engineering and Computer Science are fully prepared to teach and develop the skillsets required for the job.

Amazing local opportunity in data science

It may surprise you to know that data from more than 140 countries, and countless seaports across the globe, flows right through Louisville. Genscape, one of Louisville’s leading data companies, is among the many local employers seeking folks who can explain the story their data tells.

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Deirdre Alphenaar, Ph.D., Chief R&D Officer, at Genscape

According to Deirdre Alphenaar, Ph.D., and Chief R&D Officer, at Genscape, advances in (and the speed of) technology have spurred the development of this specialized field.

“We’re collecting more data, and acquiring it more simply than ever before,” says Alphenaar.

“The types of sensors we use in the field were, until recently, very specialized, not ‘off-the-shelf’ like they are today,” she explains. “Now, they are easy to acquire and deploy, and they provide us with immense amounts of data that can be stored, crunched, and analyzed.”

And that’s where the opportunity comes in.

“To cope with this amount of data, and transform it quickly for use in marketplaces — we need folks who can translate it into insights in real time, says Alphenaar. “Schools are developing training in machine learning and signal processing techniques to equip students to work in this field, the fun starts when you can apply this knowledge to real world data.”

The data that powers the world

Alphenaar-Photo1“There’s a playground of information here you’re not going to find anywhere else in the world. It’s fascinating to have access to this global data right at your fingertips,” says Alphenaar. “From power, to maritime, to solar…data on the energy that fuels the world – Genscape has it all.”

It’s clear both the type of data and the way it’s collected sets Genscape apart from some of the more traditional industries you might associate with analytics.

“Most people think about the consumer space when they think of companies with lots of data – credit card companies, retailers like Target or Walmart. But data is all around us, we are generating it in everything we do, and the value in capturing it and uncovering the insights it provides is of value to almost any type of activity: from healthcare to education to energy,” Alphenaar says.

She also emphasizes the small team size enables employees to really make their mark.

You can really make a name for yourself in the many markets we engage with; to shape data analytics in these industries,” she adds.

The business of big data

Genscape_logo_grey“In our own experience and in all the articles you read, there is a shortage of talent for a job that offers a terrific career and has underlying skill requirements that are not limited to scientists and engineers. Some liberal arts students make great data scientists if they have a sincere curiosity in numbers, data and the patterns of things” says Annie Edwards, Gensape’s General Counsel and Chief People Officer.

But what does that look like on a day-to-day basis?

“Many data scientists within mid to large organizations are part of an analytics team that partners with core functions like marketing, sales, finance, HR. They work together to analyze business problems that may be solved with better data or models for how things are working,” says Zain Khandwala, Executive Director of the Institute for Advanced Analytics at Bellarmine University.

InsiderTalentFriendsAd1bSarah Madden, Genscape’s Director of Talent Management, says “the key focus to our recruiting is finding individuals who are passionate, data oriented, and seeking entrepreneurial environments where they have the opportunity to make a big impact.”

Madden also explains because of growth in the data Genscape collects, “regardless of what specific positions are open, we want to proactively connect with interested talent in this space as we will be growing our data science team.”

13320391_993728880681312_7388688817565180142_oWhy Louisville?

Alphenaar, who was born in Ireland, loves the benefits of Louisville as a place to live and work.

“We’ve had a lot of people relocate here and they love it — they’re here to stay,” says Alphenaar,  “People who’ve lived here all their lives are very enthusiastic. It’s really helpful to know, especially when you’re coming here from overseas, that you made a good choice.

“I moved here and knew little of Louisville,” she says. “And now I’m one of Louisville’s biggest fans.”

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