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Data Scientist vs Knowledge Expert in a top 3 consulting firm

 
#1 Data Scientist vs Knowledge Expert in a top 3 consulting firm
20/04/2014 20:09

novalobster

Hi, there,

I have been putting some thoughts about my career development recently.

I am working as a data scientist in a big company, stable job and decent pay with standard working hours.

I am considering if I should take a non-consulting position in a top 3 management consulting firm in their HQ. The position is not in consultant--> partner track, but in analytics and decision support, providing support to the case teams by doing advanced analytics. Their total package is 30-40% higher than my current job, but the hours can be longer, although not as bad as consultants'...

I need some suggestions from you. Thanks a lot.

PS: I have a PhD in Statistics from a very average school with 7-year related industry experience.

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#2 RE: Data Scientist vs Knowledge Expert in a top 3 consulting firm
22/04/2014 10:25

Bushy Eyebrow Partner to novalobster (#1)

No, don't do it.

You'll most likely get absolutely killed by the client-facing teams. They'll cr@p all over you, expecting you to do all their work and research while they give you conceptual briefings and sit back and sl@g you off to the partners when the partner is unhappy with their work, you'll need to understand what they're doing better than they themselves do (otherwise how else will you do the detailed analysis), and you'll have multiple teams to work for at the same time I expect which means looooonnnnggg yours. Also you'll probably get micromanaged and nit-picked over every tiny little thing by some overbearing type-A personality types, including quite possibly "soft skills" graduates who don't know their pie chart from their sausage roll but who will feel entitled to heavily critique your work.

It sounds even worse than being in the IT department.

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#3 RE: Data Scientist vs Knowledge Expert in a top 3 consulting firm
23/04/2014 01:50

novalobster to Bushy Eyebrow Partner (#2)

Thanks for your inputs.

I thought the work/life balance of the analytics position is better than consultants'....Will the big name of the consulting firm help my future career development?

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#4 RE: Data Scientist vs Knowledge Expert in a top 3 consulting firm
23/04/2014 07:46

marsday to Bushy Eyebrow Partner (#2)

No, don't do it.

You'll most likely get absolutely killed by the client-facing teams. They'll cr@p all over you, expecting you to do all their work and research while they give you conceptual briefings and sit back and sl@g you off to the partners when the partner is unhappy with their work, you'll need to understand what they're doing better than they themselves do (otherwise how else will you do the detailed analysis), and you'll have multiple teams to work for at the same time I expect which means looooonnnnggg yours. Also you'll probably get micromanaged and nit-picked over every tiny little thing by some overbearing type-A personality types, including quite possibly "soft skills" graduates who don't know their pie chart from their sausage roll but who will feel entitled to heavily critique your work.

It sounds even worse than being in the IT department.

+1

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#5 RE: Data Scientist vs Knowledge Expert in a top 3 consulting firm
23/04/2014 16:53

baykus to Bushy Eyebrow Partner (#2)

BEP - not really, no. Not sure where you're getting any of that from.

Where I'm at the knowledge folks are well respected and work the hours they are paid for (ie not consultant hours). For larger pieces of work your team will scope the time etc needed yourselves, and there really isn't that much micromanaging that consultants can actually do to you. Finally, consultants won't get far by slagging off others to partners - partners don't give a f, it's our responsibility to make sure the analysis works.

I'm the first to slag off my current employer for its faults, but this is just not one of them.

Nova - what you should however keep in mind is that this is a back-office role. You will rarely have direct contact with clients, and will work through consultants. If in the future you might want to (for whatever reason) transition to a consultant role, it can be done, but is rare.

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#6 RE: Data Scientist vs Knowledge Expert in a top 3 consulting firm
24/04/2014 05:28

novalobster to baykus (#5)

Thank you.

I understand that it is very hard to switch to a consultant position for this sort of mid-back office positions, if not impossible. I am more concerned about my future career development, with this position and the big name on resume.

Not sure if it is worth to make the move...

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#7 RE: Data Scientist vs Knowledge Expert in a top 3 consulting firm
24/04/2014 09:17

mb88 to novalobster (#6)

I'm not too sure about the potential 'horror' you could be walking into by being relegated to the equivalent of 'IT support' (though it's not impossible, but more like you'll be working with far more assholes).

However, I see value in joining a consultancy for several years to get a wide breadth of experience across different industries. I think the nature of new and upcoming data functions will value people with cross industry experience and data problem solving far more than people with an industry specialism. This is not a mature business function that demands specific and deep industry knowledge.

Also consider the context of the field. It's in its infancy and will rapidly grow as big data technology and functions become more mainstream. That being said, I imagine there is going to be a scarcity of data scientists. I think you become more valuable by saying not only do I have operational data science experience with a company, I've also helped many other companies tackle their data problems (most likely from the beginning - again not a mature function).

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#8 RE: Data Scientist vs Knowledge Expert in a top 3 consulting firm
24/04/2014 09:45

Bushy Eyebrow Partner to mb88 (#7)

Wow. At most places I've been to, the so-called "knowledge" folks are very poorly regarded. One place I know of informally refers to their "knowledge dept" as the "lack of knowledge dept". It might be different in very large companies but in small-medium ones, the people in the knowledge dept aren't really close enough to the projects to be of much use and they're usually not responsive enough for the stressed out consultants to rely on. When they do come back with "knowledge", it is usually just of the form of random web page printouts and other unusable garbage that is vaguely related to the request. So for instance you ask them to give you the population of the 10 largest cities in the world, and instead they give you a map with the cities highlighted, or something useless like that.

I'd just be cautious, that's all. A lot of consultants don't hold the knowledge depts in very high regard. It sounds like your role may be more about number-crunching however... in which case I'd check whether the expectation is that you'll be given garbage data (or just piles of paper and articles to wade through) and expected to turn it into delightful insight, in which case everyone's going to be unhappy with the outcome...

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#9 RE: Data Scientist vs Knowledge Expert in a top 3 consulting firm
24/04/2014 10:36

mb88 to Bushy Eyebrow Partner (#8)

That is true, I can imagine a few "knowledge" departments or some marketing insights department giving you the equivalent of what you crap out after a day long Indian-Mexican food fiesta.

However, I'm assuming this is closer to proper data analytics, statistical analysis functions which do require you to have higher education in math or stats (well also arguably an ability to do more than add, subtract, divide and multiply or simple regression).

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