Panel Discussion Offering Career Advice for Business Analysis and Those Working with Big Data and Artificial Intelligence.

Boston College and experts with the MS in Applied Economics program, partnered with the International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA) to present a live panel discussion about career advice for those in big data and AI. Participants learned about skills analysts need to know in a rapidly evolving environment. In addition, participants learned how to become a team leader and strategies to stay current with new software and technology.   

The IIBA panelists included John Arabadjis, Managing Director at State Street and member of the Advisory Board of Boston College’s MS in Applied Economics. The panel also included Razvan VelicheDirector of Data Science for the Analysis Group and faculty member in the program.  The panelists’ careers include industries in aerospace, finance, risk management, entertainment, research and insurance.  The webinar was facilitated by Aleksandar Tomic, Associate Dean Strategy, Innovation & Technology / Program Director, Master of Science in Applied Economics – Boston College. 

Five Key Takeaways for Big Data and AI Experts 

Drs. Veliche and Arabadjis shared career advice and tips to stay current in the field of big data and AI.  Attendees came away with valuable information in these five key areas: 

1.Having a college degree will significantly increase your chance of being considered for a job in Big Data/AI. Experience and skills are important, but the first thing a potential employer, or a potential employer’s AI, is going to scan for is your academic background. Without a bachelor’s degree at minimum, you probably won’t make it past the gatekeepers. 

2.There are several types of math courses that are critical to your academic training. These are Statistics, Algorithms, Graph Theory, Calculus, and Linear Algebra. You may not use all of this material in your actual work, but these will train your mind to think like a Big Data expert.

3.In addition to a strong academic background, it’s important to be intellectually curious. Most employers are looking for people who are able to look at problems from a variety of angles, who can assess the pros and cons of a proposed solution, who actively search for alternatives, and are able to skillfully improvise and adapt to new situations. The ability to problem solve in this fashion is crucial in big data and AI.

4.As you move up the professional ladder, “soft skills” become increasingly important. If you want to rise to the level of manager or beyond, you must be able to communicate effectively with people of varying backgrounds, including people with little or no training in mathematics. You must also be able to mediate conflicts between very smart people with strong but differing opinions. 

5.”Know Thyself.” It would be a mistake to pursue a career in this field simply because it’s “sexy,” “the next Big Thing,” or because of potential financial remuneration. You must have a passion for big data and AI. And you must be able to deal with the frustrations, imperfections, and ambiguities that are an inevitable part of the job.