Being a Data Scientist is a tough profession nowadays. Not only because even it has been considered the sexiest job in the decade, most people can not understand it, but also because some people assume Data Scientist are magicians that can see the world and the only tool they need is their intention.
The other day I met a Data Scientist at a conference that told me the following situation: he had been hired recently by a company along with other 4 data scientist. He was the most experienced one between them. The other fellows were physicists and mathematicians who never used a machine learning algorithm but only had the merit to study a degree that is supposed to work well with this profession. Nevertheless to say that the guy I was talking to, was not a former student of those degrees but on the contrary, was a self-made Data Scientist. As a result of the inexperienced colleagues, he was the one who has to deliver the new projects to the CEO
He was pretty anxious because the CEO of the company demanded machine learning predictions without feeding any data. Data was inexistent. He tried to explain to the CEO that data-driven companies and technologies meant data was the foundation of them. The CEO did not want to hear that stories. He once went to a meeting and saw how someone created art from nothing and he, of course, wanted that. It was that guy incompetence if he could not provide that!
That made me think about the state of Data Science. Not every CEO can understand what it means. I can see universities and business schools advertising Big Data master boot camps or degrees without having a single experienced Data Scientist in their ranks. Everyone is jumping to pick up the money of CEOS and Directors of companies. Hype is so high and knowledge is so scarce, that they can rip the money from their hands and they probably put the hand in his pocket to deliver even an extra tip as a grateful sign.
On the contrary, the job market is not paying that big money to real Data Scientist with professional experience (no matter which one). I have gone to interviews in which my supposed boss tried to bully me just to show I had “no experience” (I have +12 years of real management experience for the record), only because experience for them, meant doing the precisely same tasks that they were requiring. I am not interested in such companies.
Today we are NOT in an era of business consolidation. This is an era of creation, innovation and building things that never existed before. We can do it now, things that we could not do before. We did not have the cheap technology nor the knowledge to produce in mass many of the cool applications modelling data has.
Stop thinking about only one kind of professionals to hire and start thinking about investing in people who are different between them. If you do so, they can feed themselves with discussions and different point of views. Hire statisticians, mathematicians, biologists, economists, chemists, business people…do not pre-judge them.