“Value today is locked in data and deriving insight from that data is critical to a company’s success and growth,” says Ashish Pujari, an instructor at UChicago who teaches Data Understanding and Preparation in the Graham School’s Data Analytics for Business Professionals certificate. “Even if you’re not going to become a data analyst, combining the tools and skillsets that go along with knowing about data will help in whatever role you have today.”
With an undergraduate degree in electrical engineering and an overall focus on technology, Ashish began his career in the IT sector. Working with a broad range of companies, from financial institutions to communications companies, he spent this part of his career programming while building customer-facing applications and web-based solutions.
“It was work I enjoyed doing and it’s still part of what I do today,” says Ashish, who is presently a director at the Gerson Lehrman Group responsible for the engineering and innovation of their data and analytics platforms. “But over the first ten years of my career, a major shift and refocus began taking place in the way companies use technology. Legacy systems got replaced by an approach that centers around gathering, organizing, and deriving insight from data.”
Having taken note of this shift, Ashish set out to acquire the skills necessary to adapt. After completing the Master of Science in Analytics at the Graham School, where he is now an instructor teaching Deep Learning and Image Recognition and Data Engineering Platforms for Analytics, he went on to combine his enhanced math and statistics skills with his software development background.
“A definite strength to the Data Analytics certificate is how interactive and practical the courses are. Despite being online, the weekly sync session brings everyone together, and the final team project gives students the opportunity to become confident with the tools while also engaging in the sort of experience that scales very well to real-world job situations.”
“My role today is more strategic,” he says. “It revolves mostly around data organization and governance and determining how to store data so that users can easily access it and derive insights from it. But I concentrate on flow too, making sure the data gets extracted properly and then arrives in the right place in a clean and usable condition. All of this is very much the focus of my course for the Data Analytics for Business Professionals certificate.”
In Data Understanding and Preparation, which is the first of four six-week courses students take to earn the certificate, Ashish says the focus is on the variety of sources from which data is gathered, as well as the different ways it then gets cleaned, transformed, and organized in a database. Students also have an opportunity to interact with real data sets through SQL queries and Excel dashboards while engaging with aspects of visualization as well.
“The course is quite rigorous and we take SQL to a very advanced level,” Ashish says. “We also do some training in open source.”
“A definite strength to the Data Analytics certificate,” he adds, “is how interactive and practical the courses are. Despite being online, the weekly sync session brings everyone together, and the final team project gives students the opportunity to become confident with the tools while also engaging in the sort of experience that scales very well to real-world job situations.”