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Data Scientist or Doctor? Which should I be?

As new technologies come online almost every 18 months, careers and education receive a boost with this new frenzy of how to prepare the future generation of leaders for their career.

The current buzz is around Data Science, as it was with Cloud before it, and Storage, Network – from 3G through 4G to soon 5G, and API; Software – open or proprietary; and before that processor speeds – first in MHz and then GHz and in the forgotten MIPS (Millions of Instructions Per Second)!

We get distracted by these 18-months shelf life shiny objects and sometimes get disappointed when what we learned in university does not get us the job we want after we spent 4 years preparing for.


 That is exactly the question. We need to focus on the WHY!

Technologies most times fill the gap of WHAT and HOW and most companies and markets rush to them, with or without the WHY figured out.

I have been privileged to be involved in many discussions, from national agenda debates, Enterprise soul-searching, to university talks in helping the leaders of the future shape their career.

The challenge is we look at things in vertical silo and not horizontal continuum.

In one of these meetings to solve the talent needed for the future Digital Economy, lengthy whitepapers and expensive surveys by esteemed institutions proposed creative and sometimes innovative ways to get the young generation take up Data Science, may it be Data Analytics, Artificial Intelligence or the latest in Machine Learning.

In Asia, where parents have fashioned themselves to be proud parents of doctors, engineers or bankers, the term Data Scientist is as alien to them as the next food craze from Korea. 

Therefore the support in getting the endorsement for these new and fancy titles may not be forthcoming, not because the parents do not see a future in them but maybe they are ignorant of their purpose.

So they stay with the evergreen and forever trusted professions like doctors, engineers and bankers. This therefore robs the nation of the opportunity to exceed the target of producing Data Professionals, like Malaysia’s target of 20,000 by the Year 2020. (And if successful, will it rob the nation of doctors, engineers and bankers?)

The solution is to turn the vertical silo 90-degrees and have Data Science inculcated in every of these ‘traditionaldiscipline.

Meaning to have doctors use data science as part of their search for a cure for dreaded diseases like cancer and Alzheimers, engineers to leverage artificial intelligence in perfecting the robot assembly line for driverless cars, and bankers to use data analytics to prevent cyber-fraud or improve customer experience with data-driven Marketing.

Develop a Smart Nation, a Digital Economy through Data-Driven culture in EVERY Profession

With this, the nation will become smart and the economy digital, and the parents still will have their children be doctors, engineers and bankers; albeit better equipped now with Data Science.

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