The Record - Issue 18: Autumn 2020

76 www. t e c h n o l o g y r e c o r d . c om I NT E R V I EW A fter spending 16 years as a risk analyst, Mariko Egami decided to try and achieve her dream of becoming a data analyst. Initially, she used online resources to teach her- self about advanced data analytics and business intelligence, but soon realised that she needed to enrol in an online course to help her develop the required skills. After months of research, Egami finally found what she had been look- ing for: a six-month, entry-level data analytics programme co-created by Microsoft and online education provider Springboard. First launched in 2019, the Data Analytics Career Track is designed to make it easier for people to develop the critical skills and com- petencies they need to be successful in data analytics-related job roles. “Organisations have realised the benefits of leveraging data to make better business deci- sions, so they’re generating, collecting and stor- ing more data than ever before,” says Gautum Tambay, co-founder and CEO of Springboard. “However, there’s a significant lack of people who know how to mine this data for insights, so we designed a comprehensive data analytics course to bridge that skills gap.” Students don’t need any prior knowledge of analytics, coding or statistics. They will use videos, project-based learning, mentor-led ses- sions and over 400 hours’ worth of Microsoft- approved content to learn about Microsoft Excel, Python, SQL, visualisation and other analytics tools. They will also be taught how to identify, understand and solve business problems using data, and how to communicate their findings to various stakeholders. “We bring a wealth of expertise in data ana- lytics and a suite of Azure tools, which means students have access to quality content and industry-standard tools that they will use throughout their entire careers,” says Ed Steidl, director of workforce partnerships at Microsoft. “We aim to train 5,000 students for data analyt- ics roles over the next three years and equip the workforce of the future with the necessary skills to succeed in the digital economy.” Microsoft’s involvement was an attractive factor for Egami. She also liked that the curric- ulum extends beyond technical skills to focus on areas where employers find the biggest gaps, such as strategic thinking, problem-solving and communication. “One of the critical things I learned is that data analysis is not just describing data beautifully; you must also be able to use analysis and vis- ualisation tools to gain insights that can be used to solve business challenges and make better decisions,” says Egami. “When presenting these findings, you have to tell a clear story that is easy for everyone in both technical and non-technical roles to understand. Springboard’s presentation course helped me to practice these skills.” Microsoft and Springboard have developed an online programme to teach thousands of people the skills they need for data analyst roles. Representatives from both companies and two successful programme graduates tell us more Democratising data analytics education BY R E B E CCA G I B SON “We have the power and expertise to train and support the next crop of data analyst trailblazers” MAR I KO E GAM I , J F C I NT E RNAT I ONA L