UK PhDs don’t need to go into banking

Until recently the natural course for a science phd graduate in the UK was to either stick it out in Academia or turn their skills to the financial markets. The tech boom of the last half a decade, coupled with falling costs of data collection and storage, has created opportunities with ‘big data’ that has not hitherto been seen outside of finance.

What this means, as O’Reilly commentator Ben Lorca writes in a recent article, is that industrial data science and engineering is a viable alternative to traditional financial engineering. To that end, a swathe of programs such as ASI and EF have launched in the UK to help graduates translate their experience into the skills necessary for offering analytics solutions to big data companies or even starting their own company.

Often referred to as ‘finishing schools’, these programs aim to change the mindset of phd graduates from crafting perfected research papers over months or years, to delivering actionable analytics products to impact a business’s bottom line in days or weeks. There is also the necessary ‘soft skills’ such as presenting or communicating work to a non technical audience which needs to be learnt.

The consequence of all of this will, hopefully, be a better ready army of data scientists in London!


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