You know who you are. A high-calibre machine learning magician, a well-versed wrangler of data... but you want a bit more from your role. That may be progression, more money or the chance to work on new, more exciting projects, but where do you go from here?
Many companies are looking to increase investment in data science departments and looking for leaders to build out new teams to do this. But before you take the plunge into the C-level, weigh up what this role entails and how much it will differ from what you do now.
Chief Data Science roles in companies of all sizes are increasing steadily as more investment is put into data efforts on larger, operational scale within businesses. However, the actual ins and outs of this role can vary widely between organisation depending on size and structure.
As a Chief Data Scientist, the ability to highlight where exactly companies may be missing out in using the right data, or making the use of its existing data and shaping it from an analytical side where these opportunities can for into a wider business strategy is key. As a Chief Data Scientist, you will be involved in many different projects related to both technical and business sides of the company. A leader and mentor to your team, and a contributor but predominantly, a bridge connecting business strategy and data science projects.
You’ll need to be business minded, with the responsibility and ability to drive consistent results from your team whilst being accountable for the data science efforts throughout your organisation. Not to mention keeping on top of new technologies and trends in Machine Learning and AI to apply these to your data and the business where you can. A deep level of understanding of consumer desires and what drives their actions through data insights, risk management, creating new products for consumers, and driving innovation through various business channels will be key in showing you are an able Chief Data Scientist.
It’s important to recognise that this isn’t a purely technical role, you’ll also have to be a great communicator, with the potential to be more hands-on with clients depending on the type of company you’re working in. When dealing with data, there is a great need for being innovative, creative and a problem solver with a strong head for analytics. As a Chief Data Scientist, you need to be confident in delivering watertight results at a business level and being able to tell a story with your data to a group of people who may not be as adept with technical language as you are.
Anyone can interpret their own meaning from data sets, but you need to have the confidence, knowledge, and skill set to show how your data adds business value on a broader level and connecting the dots to show the impact and mapping of how the data is within the business. Take a lead in defining business problems, through a natural ability to manipulate data, and work on algorithms and advanced machine learning techniques; solving problems with solutions that can be used operationally.
It’s not a sprint to get to a C-level position. Take the time and develop your commercial experience, honing your skills as you go. You may be super smart with three degrees under your belt, but you need to know how to communicate with a non-technical crowd and put overly technical jargon behind you. This sounds easier than it is!
Most of all, soak up all information and experience as you can as you progress throughout your career.
When opportunities arise to take ownership of projects, lead others and take on more accountability for the outcomes of your team, definitely take them - it’ll show your willingness for greater responsibility, help you improve these skills and give sustenance to your CV when applying for Chief roles.
Getting experience in hiring and managing other data scientists can be tricky but offer to help out and step up where possible or needed in your current role. This will help you gain not only the experience itself, but look great to prospective employers, or management should you want to move up in your current company!