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Insights into a Data Science Career : How to Succeed?

An interview with Sujoy Roychodhury, Senior Data Scientist – Artificial Intelligence Services, IBM

We are excited to have our Data Science & Artificial Intelligence mentor, Sujoy Roychowdhury to help us guide through the maze of massive information and plethora of courses for the career. He has not only shared his career story and experiences, but has also provided insights on entry strategies for students and professionals at different levels.

Suhruta : Hi Sujoy, its great having you with us today. We, at GoCrackIt would like to help professionals who want to get into data science and analytics careers and who are struggling with so much information around along with a multitude of courses.

With your experience in this domain, we hope to help these professionals to pursue their careers in an effective and efficient manner. Thanks for agreeing for this Career Expert Interview.

Sujoy : Thanks. Happy to help.

Suhruta : Sujoy, you have had a stellar career in this domain from being an analytics consultant at TCS to setting up the analytics practice at Ericsson to being a group manager at IBM. Can you explain how your career has transitioned and where do you see yourself going forward.

Sujoy : I have been in analytics in a similar function in my entire career. I was in TCS for about 8.5 years. In the beginning I was more in the IT part and did some work in what was then called predictive analytics. The term data science had not been invented then. Then I did my one year MBA from IIM Bangalore where I focused on decision sciences.

Then I joined Ericsson, where I set up the analytics practice. We did quite a lot of work ; both in building internal products and providing services to external clients.

At IBM, I work as a Group Manager in AI services division. Here I have been leading implementation of some cutting edge technologies for a number of clients and have been fairly successful.

Apart from my MBA from IIM Bangalore, which of course has been very critical, where I focused on decision sciences, I have done several online courses. Even now, I spend 10 to 15 hours every week in studying latest techniques or stuff that I am not aware of. That I think has been critical for my career.

Suhruta : Great, thanks for those inputs. You mentioned that you were doing predictive analytics in TCS and then went on to set up the analytics practice at Ericson. How has the MBA helped you?

Sujoy: First of all, one needs to understand that a MBA, especially from a good place such as IIMB, has a very conceptual grounding in both statistics and economics principles. Also, one must realize that any analytics problem is basically a problem that needs to be analyzed in the presence of uncertainty, right. And an MBA degree helps you to handle and manage uncertainty. The business knowledge which you get and the concepts that you understand, for example, how does your competition’s actions affect your company to an extent.

So even today, I was studying how do promotional activities of the competitor affect sales of my client. Also, how does adjacent industries affect your company.

Would you believe me if I say, that Cricket affects Telecom sector massively? Or that Game of Thrones affects the telecom industry? Whenever a new season of Game of Thrones is running on Netflix or if the Cricket World Cup is ongoing, we need to have enough capacity to give a good experience to customers. This ability to understand the impact across and within industries is very important; you can’t do analytics without understanding this.

Suhruta : Thanks, that was a very interesting example and very contemporary as well, which people across domains can understand. This showed that we need to understand business and also how analytics help to drive businesses better.

So Sujoy, you have been awarded as the Best of IBM 2019. Firstly, congratulations on that! Can you tell us more about that?

Sujoy : Basically IBM awards every year based on recommendations on the executive leadership to its 1000 employees from around 350-400,000 employees across IBM. I think my work over the last few years and the fact that I was also the winner of Major Outstanding Technical Achievement award, which is the highest technical award someone get in IBM, contributed to the Best of IBM award. I must thank my leadership for nominating me. It is nomination and global leadership review based award.

Suhruta: Tell us more about some of the exciting projects which you have done so far in your career. Whether at IBM or the other organizations.

Sujoy: Yes, quite a few. Many years back, when I had only four and half years of experience, so we had built for one of our clients’ an engine which looked at computing how a telecom operator is able to maintain the promises it has made with respect to delivery and fixing charges. At that point of time, when I was in very early stages in my career I got this opportunity. We made a very generic framework, which I hear is still used 10 year later on.

In Ericsson, I worked on one of the major challenges of telecom operators – how do you build a service network and maintain the SLA . So alongwith the already existing SLA monitoring system, we built a real time prediction system. And that was a very innovative implementation system, which we built with a team of 3 to 4 people with core algorithmic work. And that is a part of Ericsson’s portfolio today.

In IBM, I worked with Lotte department store in 2017 and built a conversational chatbot which not only provided me with a great experience and learning but what I am proud of is that, our client Lotte won the Best Customer Experience Award at World Retail Congress which is equivalent to Oscars for retailers. Yes there were a number of problems and problem is a mix of business and technology. Of course the core was the technology challenge and as a technologist that was what excited me the most. But then the technology problem does not reside outside of domain of business. It is not something, when business drivers are not important. You would always need to understand that.

Also, one needs to understand the difference between Science and Engineering. Engineering is Science done under constraints. You always have constraints of time, you have constraints of money, of people and skills. You may want to get X, you may only be able to get to 0.7x or 0.8x because of these constraints. One of the major challenges of leading technology services is taking decisions on these trade-offs. For example, if I have to do one implementation, then there are challenges related to time, money, or people not having relevant skills. I then need to make tradeoffs. What and which trade-offs can be made are things which you can understand if you understand the impact of that trade off in that business outcome. That is something, which is very important.

Suhruta : Thanks Sujoy for sharing your career journey and exciting projects.

In the next part of this interview, we will understand about importance of courses and certifications from Sujoy’s perspective. Stay tuned!

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