An interview with Joana Moreira, José Costa, Jorge Ferreira and Rui Assis, part of the 2020 Learning and Development program.
Hitachi Solutions' Learning and Development is designed to be a broad and fast-paced learning environment. experience, The Learning & Development (L&D) program has a focus on technical education but also the soft skills inherent to a consulting role. This includes intensive training across various platforms and software, team-building exercises and assessments. There's also a great social component to being at Hitachi Solutions' from the team sports and Friday BBQ's after work, to the multitude of different cultures and age ranges employed. The company manages to keep an environment that matches its principles. I've already learnt so much by working at Hitachi Solutions where every day is a challenge but thoroughly enjoyable.
As a Junior Data Analyst, you enrol onto Hitachi Solutions' L&D program. While part of this program you will learn the basic skills to help you throughout your consulting career. The L&D program is structured as a modular training program that, as a whole, aims to teach you how to solve a particular business case through the application of consulting and technology knowledge. The modules are split between various key aspects of Data Science & Analytics which last between 1-2 weeks, each with a dedicated lecturer who will lead the training on a given topic. It essentially comprises of instructor-led sessions, presented by a subject matter expert to introduce the audience to a particular topic, supported by Microsoft Learning paths and other use cases with hands-on exercises to practice what is learned. At the end of each module, an assessment is conducted to measure performance and knowledge readiness on that topic.
New joiners are also incentivized to complete additional certifications and attend various Microsoft events and training days and when not on a project are expected to be working on achieving these certifications to improve your skills. You can also do exams during workdays, so don’t worry about spending time during the weekend doing your exams.
Yes, definitely. Initially, we thought a Data Analyst (DA) would spend most of their time working on Power BI on data visualization tasks: designing the dashboards and creating some measures to support these visualizations. We thought data modelling (data processing to improve data analysis capability) would be a smaller part of the job thanks to the data engineers. On one hand, depending on the data source, data modelling can actually take longer than the dashboard design! One example of this would be that some data sources, by nature, require more work than others. For instance, a Dataverse database leverages a relational model, which means it typically takes time to model a star schema based on it. This was one of the biggest challenges in the final project of our L&D program considering it was the first time we worked with this data source, especially one with so many tables, and we had to go through many iterations in Power Query (data modelling tool in Power BI) until we finally arrived at our desired star schema for the report.
On the other hand, we have worked on projects where the data model was much quicker to design. A recent example would be one where we simply had to load the dimensions and a single fact table from the database and set the relationships in the report, which in comparison is a lot faster to achieve. Looking at these examples from an overall perspective, while a Data Analyst’s primary output is a Power BI piece of work, they also need to know about dimensional modelling as well as some data engineering concepts so they can communicate with those colleagues and help solve technical nuances of the data.
A simple definition of a Data Analyst would be that we are employed to look at data and gathers proper findings as valuable insights that can support the business decision-making process of a given business. As new Data Analysts at Hitachi Solutions, we are mostly working with Power BI, which is a powerful Microsoft tool that allows us to treat data to get the insights needed. The final output is a report that can be shared across an organisation’s BI service. It is also possible to create dashboards (data visualizations) supported by this service, which can be integrated into other systems such as the Microsoft Dynamics 365 platform. The possibilities are endless, as these can easily be adapted to every industry and need.
Although we are working mainly with Microsoft Power BI, our job isn’t all about that: it includes all the infrastructure and data processing techniques behind it. The Data Science & Analytics team is responsible for providing solutions for data storage that are effective and efficient: raw data must be processed in order to store it in the proper format. This is essential to having a well-designed report, considering the data we query comes from those data sources in the first place.
Furthermore, our role stretches out to consulting which means our primary focus is ensuring we ask the right questions and listen clearly, in order to be able to promote critical-thinking discussions and deliver the best value possible for our customers. We, therefore, are encouraged to develop softer skills like communication on a daily basis. We need to have a good understanding of business needs so that we do not simply deliver what is expected but what is proportionate to those needs.
To conclude, it is extremely important to combine our technical skills with our soft skills to be successful in our day-to-day working life as a Data Analyst Consultant.