Data Scientists: Sexy But Not Getting Laid?

Data Scientists: Sexy But Not Getting Laid?

A major challenge in rolling out big data projects is finding qualified data scientists to help build appropriate analytical models. We’ve suggested previously that scarcity makes data scientists sexy, but that rarity might also sometimes cause other problems.

Scientist picture from Shutterstock

At the AIIA Navigating Big Data conference, which I’m covering today, Gartner VP Ian Bertram told an interesting tale of a company whose long-running search for a data scientist didn’t end too well:

We had an example where it took someone 11 months to hire a data scientist. They were fired in two months because they didn’t understand the culture. They lacked social skills and didn’t fit in. They lacked impact.

Stereotypes about engineering experts having no social skills aren’t necessarily helpful. The big lesson here? No matter how badly you need to fill any role in an organisation, IT or otherwise, you need to consider how a potential employee will fit in, not just whether they meet a checklist of basic skills.


  • Simple solution really. Keep data scientists isolated in a small dim room, give them an unlimited supply of coffee, and feed them technical problems. Some types of people don’t mix well, but their special skills are worth some special treatment.

  • The first thing that comes to mind here is ‘teams’. Not teams of data scientists but teams with individually unique but overlapping skills that are able to ‘do data science’. It’s not a new idea.

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