Analytics excites IITians

Written by Diksha Dutta | Diksha Dutta | Updated: Jul 23 2012, 06:11am hrs
Bright career prospects and higher salaries lure techies from top notch engineering colleges to take up analytics work at e-commerce and BPO firms

Lavi Agarwal is a man with a plan. A career plan of what he wants to do and what the future holds for him in his chosen profession. His joining date is today, July 23 at an analytics firm, AbsolutData. He declined an offer from a Pune-based IT company Geometric Global, as he was clear about what he wants to do. I had done enough research and decided that analytics is an apt career path as it has a good growth graph, both in monetary and learning aspects. Lavi shares that in his batch of 54 people at IIT Roorkee, only six to seven students opted for core engineering jobs and the rest opted for other areas like analytics, IT and consulting.

In the past, BPO firms too looked at people from statistics and economics background for their analytics work. But today, engineers are filling this gap as well. The only difference is that there is more training required for them to grasp analytical techniques. It ranges from two to three months. E Balaji, MD & CEO of Randstad India says, The basic skill for an analytics job is anybody who is strong with mathematics and engineers often have these skill sets. The starting salary in analytics is generally 20% higher than any core engineering job a fresher would opt for.

The countrys largest BPO Genpact hired 300 freshers this year from campuses for its analytics team and 100 of them were engineers from colleges like IITs and other leading technical institutes. Pankaj Kulshreshtha, senior vice-president, smart decision services, analytics and research, Genpact says, Compared to last year, response is more enthusiastic from engineering colleges. We need a variety of skills for our analytics team which includes people who are tech-savvy and have quantitative skills, at the same time who understand customer business. For this hiring, we usually go to tech campuses. Genpact has added a fairly large number of people over the last decade in its analytics team which is now 5,000 people strong.

On similar lines, Mohan AVK, global head of human resources at BPO firm EXL Service says, We hired 100 engineers this year for our analytics team, up from 90 last year. Our strength in the team is 700, of which about 40% are engineers.

The demand for talent with analytical skills is on the rise. McKinseys recent study on big data says that India will require nearly 1,00,000 data scientists in the next couple of years. The trend of students opting for this career from the apex engineering college IIT started long back. Another interesting case is Sharad Jaiswal who graduated from IIT Bombay in 2008 and declined a job in Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) to pursue a career in analytics and today he is satisfied with his growth in the profession. There was a lot of buzz around analytics at that time and it is an exciting career. Understanding data and at the same time being smart with mathematics is an art, he says. Higher salary was definitely a factor for Sharad, but it was just a part of the overall decision.

Sharad recalls how his batch got placed, I have seen this trend in IITs that people are moving away from conventional jobs. I remember that in my batch of 90 people, there were only 30 people who opted for core engineering jobs. The other 60 went to professions like analytics and consulting. He has been working in the analytics field for the past three years and has seen a decent salary hike of 25% since then.

Sudheshna Datta, executive VP and co-founder, AbsolutData, a leading analytics firm says, On a yearly basis, we hire around 40-50 engineers from colleges like IITs, NITs, BITS Pilani, PEC, VTU etc. The company has approximately 250 employees who do analytics work. About 60% of the headcount is engineers, 20% is MBAs, and another 20% is from statistics and mathematics background.

Adds Datta, The MBAs usually do governance and project management work. Then we have engineers who are good at number crunching. For operations research, we have people who are good in economics and do statistics well. She explains that the salaries in analytics are 30% higher than any core engineering job. And engineers usually need a two to three months training once they join the company.

It is hard not to mention e-commerce when we talk about exciting careers and engineers are realising this. Gaurav Chhaparwal, head, analytics at Snapdeal is himself an IITian who graduated in the year 2006 and has been in the career since then, previous stint being at a global analytics firm. He says, We have hired about 75-80 engineers this year which includes IITians. We have also been getting off campus requests from freshers. We hire them for three basic profilesdata analytics, product analytics, and the rest would be for a mixed profile of engineering and analytics. The salaries that we have offer are between R5 lakh to R8 lakh, depending on the experience.

Gaurav notes that IITians are now leaving big brands and are looking at young companies. Most of our team does not have a formal economics background, but the IITians usually have a capability to learn these skills faster, he says. Internet and e-commerce is growing fast and is being driven by analytics when one wants to understand consumer behaviour. This is a fairly niche space with enough scope.

It is time that we utilise the engineering talent of our country for more exciting and novel careers.

ANALYTICS GLAMOUR

* Genpact hired 100 engineers from tech campuses for its analytics team this year

* Snapdeal hired 85 engineers this year, majorly from IIT

* AbsolutData has 180 engineers doing data crunching

* EXL Service has hired 100 engineers this year for analytics

* The starting salary in analytics is generally 20% higher than any core engineering job

* McKinseys study on big data says that India will require nearly 1,00,000 data scientists in the next couple of years

* The starting salary would range from Rs.4 lakh to Rs.8 lakh