Friends of attract: Douglas Robertson from DR Analytics
Douglas Robertson began his career in the recruitment industry and, after developing his own technical skills, moved in Data Analytics. Now, he’s the founder of DR Analytics Recruitment, a recruitment agency specialising in data professionals.
Attract: How did you get started in data analytics?
Douglas: After working in recruitment for a while I was like, I’m just connecting two people together. I needed my own technical skills if I wanted to develop a career. So I did a few data analytics courses and an online boot camp.
It’s a really hard industry to break into. I told my local barista about struggling to break into the industry, and she happened to know the Head of data analytics for an ASX listed company, which landed me my first role. When I first joined I was very out of my depth, but I figured it out a bit more as I went. Then after about six months, I had this idea. What if I combine the two and work in analytics recruitment. Here we are.
Attract: Was the difficulty to break into the industry a big inspiration for starting DR Analytics?
Douglas: I guess that’s somewhat behind it. The idea is that technical knowledge is needed to understand someone’s skillset. People may have python experience on their resume, but that could mean cleaning datasets, or AI or natural language processing. Those are all three different jobs, but people will only list python on their resume. Having the understanding of how it works is important.
Attract: How do you think the world of data analytics is going to change in the coming years?
Douglas: In data analytics, the first step is identifying what happened in a business. What’s actually happening? We need to make sure that you have those data points and we can report on it. Then you look at why these things happen.
Now, companies are starting to enter into what we can do to trigger the things happening using data and changing different parameters. That takes us into the AI and machine learning realms, using prediction models. There was a mining project where they took top soil from an area and then analysed the mineral there. They put it through a model and it gave feedback on whether it was likely there was a copper deposit, based on AI learning.
Attract: What about the recruitment industry – how do you think AI is going to affect the space?
Douglas: I think AI will come in to help identify those connections you cannot see with your human brain, which is where attract.ai comes in. There’s huge potential to unlock these connections that you don’t see straight away…I’ve actually thought about what it would be like to map my own LinkedIn network.
Attract: What advice would you have for someone who wanted to get started in data analytics?
Douglas: Grab a $40 coursera monthly subscription, you’ll get access to the whole industry so you can pick courses that interest you. If you want to learn data analytics with Python, you get to. If you want to see what Machine Learning models look like, there’s a course for that as well.
Do a few, and if you like it — and you know you like it when you enter flow state – which is where time passes really quickly. Map out what you get the most enjoyment out of and then do a bootcamp, and potentially a degree if you want. There’s a lot of non-traditional learning resources that don’t cost 40-50 grand, and you can still get something out of them.
There’s a concept of T skilling, and in data & analytics there’s a lot of skills . People will list 20 coding languages on their CVs. If I see a data analyst that’s had one year’s experience has 20 coding languages on their CV, something’s not adding up. If you say you have a base of 5 or so, and then specialise in one you can sell yourself as a specialist: “I’m a data analyst specialising in SQL databases in these specific areas,” and then the employer goes “oh this person was made for me.”
People in the US say “riches are in the niches (N-IT-CH-ES)” which is a butchery of niche, but that helped me.
Attract: How would you recommend getting an internship, especially in these non-traditional paths.
Douglas: It’s a hard industry to break into, and breaking into it usually looks like internships. Try and find companies that don’t do traditional internships. I’ve had friends in the industry working one day a week in the data analytics team because they know someone there. These companies don’t do generally internships, but my friends are still doing one.
It really comes down to building your network connections, and that could be through a LinkedIn presence, networking events, or even sharing with your barista. If you want to get into the industry, first talk to everyone.