An elevated journey from a research lab to an Amazon aggregator business team
Dev Sharan Sams’s path to data analysis was quite extraordinary. Instead of switching from analytics to science, he did pretty much the opposite. He came to Israel to pursue his Ph.D in neuroscience at Bar Ilan University. While getting his master’s in Germany, he read a lot of important scientific publications from the Weizmann and Technion, so Israel sounded like the right place to continue his research about creating and storing memories. In his Ph.D. he has extensively investigated the role of genome organization in regulating learning and memory. It was a pioneering study on the effect of dysregulation of chromatin organizer protein and its impact on expression. The study was published in the prestigious Cell Report journal titled “Neuronal CTCF Is Necessary for Basal and Experience-Dependent Gene Regulation, Memory Formation, and Genomic Structure of BDNF and Arc”.
Furthermore, he continued working with his colleagues to publish three more significant studies on DNA methylation in Autism Spectrum Disorder. The result of his work can be found in Nature, BMC and Oxford Academic journals. In 2017 he returned to Germany as a postdoctoral research fellow to explore the interplay between immune cells and neurons at a genomic level. During this tenure, he was introduced to various aspects of next-generation sequencing tools and bioinformatics. That’s when it first stroke him: the importance of data analytics tools in scientific research could not be underestimated! He noticed the emergence of AI and ML playing a critical role in scientific discovery. Guided by his interest in technological innovations and research, slowly slowly Dev gravitated towards data analytics and computation. During his Ph.D. Dev met his partner and decided to stay in Israel. In 2020 his transition to data science began. As a starting point he chose TripleTen program in Data Analysis. Today he works as a Business Analyst at Elevate Brands — a US-based successful startup company that has recently raised $300 million. We asked Dev to share his journey to Data Analysis and give some employment tips.
What brought you to Data Analysis? How did you decide to apply for the TripleTen DA program?
I had applied to the data science program in 2019 and realized I lacked coding experience. However, the program was awe-inspiring with a wide range of topics in data science, and the list of mentors was outstanding. So I followed Y-Data School on social media and other channels. In the following months, they offered the TripleTen DA program, which was more suitable for non-coders. So I applied as a starting point to begin my career in data analytics.
What were your fears/expectations before taking a program?
There are numerous courses offered online for data analytics. I had tried a few and quit, the main reason being that none of the courses offered a mentor program, we could learn from Youtube for free, and they looked like software packages.
The way TripleTen program was designed attracted me because
- it covered topics that were relevant and up-to-date
- we had tutors to guide and support us
- there were mentors from the industry
- the success-based model offered an incentive to both the student and teacher, and this showed how invested the program is in delivering the primary goal of preparing you for a job
Was it hard to study? The main challenges you faced up with?
The study was challenging at different stages, mainly due to my lack of coding experience. For example, many will relate to errors in code due to a syntax error. I have spent hours resolving it. However, all these experiences have made me confident and better at coding.
What did you enjoy the most?
The tutors and the high-quality course material are designed to help you understand the question and find the right solutions instead of reaching out to quick fixes — this enables us to find the most reliable approaches to solve the problem. In addition, the weekly mentor calls were a big bonus, especially since they shared their experiences and discussed agile ways to solve a question and present data meaningfully.
Your previous occupation/place of work?
I was a postdoctoral research fellow at the Mainz University in Germany. I was investigating how immune cells impact brain function. We used high-end molecular biology tools like next-generation sequencing that required frequent interaction with bioinformaticians. As a result of this exposure, I was invested in learning more about data analytics for my research. I realized that data analytics and high-end computation methods would be immensely useful for scientific discovery.
Is there anything that you are studying now?
I am currently studying Data Engineering fundamentals. It helps in understanding and designing a data warehouse. In data analytics, we have new BI tools and techniques constantly offered in the market. Therefore, it is essential to be up-to-date and use these new tools in work to be ahead in the field.
Where do you work now? What does your company do?
I am a Business Analyst at Elevate Brands. My company has years of experience as an Amazon FBA seller, so we have knowledge and experience in building successful brands on Amazon. Importantly, we understand how to relate to business owners and ensure an efficient and pleasant acquisition process. We are a global company and have employees around the world. The Elevate tech team is located in Israel. It is a new department solely involved in building the technology resources to impact business decisions.
Being among the first employees gives me the unique opportunity to understand the fundamentals of the business and be the pioneer to create a strong foundation for the analytics team in the following years. I am involved in numerous projects and interact with different departments of the business. For example, in one project, I support our business team in identifying and evaluating opportunities on Amazon. It involves preparing high-quality data using BI tools and building engaging dashboards. In the future, we will be exploring AI and ML models to build the business.
How did you get employed?
I applied through LinkedIn. The course material and mentors training were vital during the recruiting process. In addition, the projects we prepared during the course provide you with a snapshot of what to expect in an interview (even in regular work) — this ensures that you give your best during the process.
What played the biggest role at the employment process?
It is essential to make a compelling story with the sample interview data. The recruiter will appreciate that you present insights and suggest data-driven decisions that will impact their business. In my opinion, the benefit of the data analyst interview process is that we can get a sneak peek at data challenges the tech team faces. Based on this, the candidate can decide if these are the challenges we would like to solve.
Describe your first day at work as an employee. How did you feel?
After being in a claustrophobic space due to the pandemic, it was refreshing to be in an office surrounded by highly motivated team members. In addition, the managers and team members were warm and friendly, which is a known characteristic in Elevate brands. This kind of work culture enables you to strive for the best and make a significant contribution.
What does it mean to you to be a Data Analyst?
Being a scientist at heart made the transition to a data analyst relatively easy. The rigorous training and problem-solving skills that I developed during my scientific career are now helping me formulate strategies and look for solutions. I view this as an opportunity to be the brains of the business and support the company to make data-driven decisions.
An important lesson you learnt about yourself in the past year?
Last year was very challenging due to the pandemic and relocating to Israel. However, the pandemic gave me the time to pursue a course in Data Analytics and make a new career. I focused on the positives and worked towards pursuing my dream career no matter the adversity.
A secret weapon/superpower you wish you had?
I am a Batman fan. So I don’t believe we need superpowers to be a superhero. Batman would make an excellent data analyst. For example, his detective skills and ability to have a contingency plan during a crisis are remarkable. So these are the skills I wish to have and of course his bat-mobile.
Your advice to those who are looking for a job in the DA field?
Like the tag line in Star Trek, “To boldly go where no man has gone before”, I genuinely believe that the industry of data analytics field is evolving very fast. As a result, there will be an ocean of opportunities to offer people challenging careers. To this end, new data analysts need to be clear about which areas they would prefer to work at. For example, you can be Business Intelligence Analyst, Marketing Analyst, Operational Analyst, etc. Hence, it is vital to choose a position that can enable you to give peak performance and get job satisfaction. Essential traits for a data analyst are curiosity, passion, problem-solving skills, analytical, and communication skills.