How to build a Successful Data Science Team

Photo by Javier Allegue Barros on Unsplash

Data Science has been an hot topic in the last decade.

The majority of Companies around the world are aware that the amount of data made available thanks to digitalization and technology requires dedicated resources for its exploration and exploitation. And more and more companies are creating dedicated Teams or Centre of Excellence for leveraging data, in order to better understand customer needs, increase workers safety, optimize supply chain management, increase product and service quality, better planning, and so on and so forth.

To answer this question usually Companies mainly focus on the hard skills that a Data Science Team should possess

  • Statistical Skills
  • Hacking Skills
  • Domain Expertise

and usually they run to publish job posting or engage Head Hunters to get the best candidates with these skills (and pay them very well).

First of all, to build successful Data Science Team you need a Team, meaning it’s very rare and expensive to have all the skill you’ll need in one person only.

Usually it’s ok to have 2 or 3 persons successfully covering those skills (at least to start).

Secondly, soft skills are more important than you may think and they can be the main determinant for your Data Science Team success.

The soft skills which you should look for in you candidates are “only” three, but all of them are necessary:

  • Humble. “Pride goes before the fall” is a proverb one may have heard in his life. Humble is probably the first characteristic to look for: team members who are willing to work for the good and the team before than themselves, or who are glad to share their success with the team, and are willing to admit their mistakes are rare and valuable… recognize and don’t miss out them!
  • Hungry. Hungry team players are those who keep pulling the Team toward the success, also helping other Team members to accomplish their tasks in order to anticipate Team’s success. They are somehow obsessed by making the team advance, as soon as possible.
  • Smart. Smart Team players are those using the right words to unlock opportunities without creating greater Team efforts, or without causing pain or overheads or the Team. They are good at engaging with both technical and non technical stakeholders at different hierarchy levels and tune their communication style accordingly.

Patrick Lencioni has a book on the Ideal Team Player, which I recommend because I’ve just realized that these characteristics are the main soft-skills I always look for when selecting candidates for building successful Data Science Teams for my Clients.

Summary

To build a successful Data Science Team requires a combination of hard and soft skills.

Beside the well-known hard skills, it is important to search for soft skills which are common to very good team players and recognize them.

If you like to exchange your experiences with me on this topic I am really open to it and I really like to hear from you.

Feel free to contact me!

Senior Principal