Data scientist

Data scientist unlocks business genius

When Kristin Carney graduated with a Bachelor of Science in maths, she wasn’t sure what to do with her degree. That’s when she began researching data science.

Data scientists come from many backgrounds and wear many different hats. But the best data scientists always have three things in common: curiosity, communication skills and excellent mathematics abilities.

Kristin Carney is a data scientist for Cabela’s World’s Foremost Bank, where she leads a research and analysis team that uses SAS Analytics to reveal business insights. She loves her area of work because with the wealth of data available, there’s no end to the solutions she can create.

“I like to solve puzzles and, as a data scientist for a credit card portfolio, those puzzles often look like questions about how to mitigate risk and increase profit,” Kristin says. “Fortunately, in this industry there’s a lot of data to work with.”

With an undergraduate degree in mathematics and a Master of Science in statistics from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Kristin started work at Cabela’s in 2010 and quickly moved into a statistician role. Three years later she was promoted to Risk Manager and now runs a team of four to eight data scientists on any given day.

“They are all analytical problem solvers,” Kristin says. “Some have statistical modelling experience and some don’t, but their education is typically in mathematics, statistics or economics.”

Highlights of being a data scientist

On a typical day Kristin brainstorms and answers business questions from her team, reviews analysis and project recommendations by her staff and attends meetings. Kristin is highly invested in her team’s learning and development and finds management both the most challenging and most rewarding part of her work.

“My biggest accomplishments are seeing my team succeed, gaining experience in decision-making and acquiring the ability to say ‘no’ professionally. Sometimes a decision, even if it is the wrong one, is better than no decision at all.”

With this in mind, Kristin believes the most important skill for data scientists is logical reasoning, closely followed by communication skills. “You have to be able to explain your analysis,” she says. “You also need to be detail-oriented.”

Data scientists are in short supply and highly valued by global companies. Combine a mix of business know-how, mathematics and computational smarts with creativity and passion, and you could be the next talented data scientist helping businesses thrive in the age of big data.

To find out more about data science opportunities with SAS Analytics, click here.

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