The academic scene in analytics continues to heat up. Freshers / Professionals continue to enter analytics industry with a determined objective of becoming successful in this discipline.
Praxis received phenomenal response for July 2015 batch, and the steady inflow of applications / queries over the following months, conveyed the keenness and passion among students to learn analytics. Thus, tapping this opportunity at hand, Praxis has decided to add one more batch to their existing program. Therefore, Praxis will now have two batches every year – a July intake and January intake respectively.
If you are new to Praxis, I’d suggest you to check out our comprehensive Review – Business Analytics Program, Praxis Business School to gain knowledge on the crucial aspects of this program.
We decided to catch up with dignitaries from Praxis Business School got a chance to chat with the Program Director – Dr. Prithwis Mukerjee about the January intake in specific and the program in general. Here are the excerpts from our conversation with Dr. Mukerjee:
AV(Analytics Vidhya): What prompted you to launch a Spring (January) batch?
PM(Prithwis Mukerjee): Two things. One, we have been receiving an increasing number of applications for our July batch every year. Instead of making one batch very large (and hence a little difficult to manage given the number of lab hours we have in the program), we decided to opt for two batches in a year, just like in the US – a Fall batch and a Spring batch. Second, unlike the MBA program, Analytics does not conform to any well-established ‘campus placement season’ – there is a growing need for well trained analytics professionals across the year and we get requests for people from firms all the time. Two batches a year may actually help in matching the demand for manpower better.
AV: While most of the training programs in analytics in India is delivered either online or in hybrid mode, why does Praxis offer its entire program in instructor-led classroom training mode, that too full-time – almost forcing professionals to give up their jobs to join the program?
PM: We believe that Data Science is a complex domain and requires immersive learning. It is neither a tool/ technique that one can pick up in a couple of months, nor a top-up for a business manager or consultant so that he can talk about analytics a little more intelligently than before. We are teaching a class that has chosen analytics as a career. We reckon the need to ensure that we cover the breadth and depth required to empower the student to step confidently into the world of analytics with the ability to contribute both at a conceptual and an operation level. This kind of training has to be face-to-face, full-time and rigorous, with lots of hands-on labs and projects. It also requires intensive interaction with a faculty team that blends theoretical soundness with cross functional expertise. In fact, a good number of our students come with the experience of having done one or two online courses – in that sense online and hybrid courses are helping generate interest among professionals.
AV: Have there been any changes to the curriculum since we last (April 2015) met ?
PM: Yes and No! The curriculum broadly addresses the same areas – statistics, machine learning, technology and business domain knowledge – the three pillars of data science. However, we change the curriculum by about 30% every time we teach – we have replaced a couple of courses and the content within each course evolves continuously. With access to more data and better connect with the industry; we are spending increasingly more time in ‘learning by doing’. In a nutshell, the program comprises 500+ hours of classroom training in the broad areas of statistics, data warehousing, data mining, data visualization, econometrics using tools like R, SAS, Excel, Tableau, Qlikview and exploring big data technologies like Hadoop, Pig, Hive, NoSQL (MongoDB). In addition, the program exposes students to business concepts and functional areas like finance, marketing, operations research and the application of analytics in domains like marketing, retail, web, finance, and telecom.
AV: Who is this course for? What kind of students are you targeting?
PM: We are looking for students who are serious about building a career in Analytics – people who would like to grow into the roles of data scientists and not just data analysts – and who are willing to commit one year of their lives to rigorous analytics learning. We look for people who are analytical, have a fondness for numbers and are not afraid of technology. They could be from any stream, as long as their mathematics foundation is strong and they can demonstrate problem-solving and storytelling skills. In terms of experience, we do not have any filters – people with experience in streams like IT or any business functions are welcome; so are fresh graduates/ post graduates as long as they are academically equipped to cope with the rigor of the program.
AV: What is the typical batch profile like – in terms of background and experience?
PM: 90% of our students are from Engineering, Economics, Mathematics, Statistics, Pure Science backgrounds. There are students from the commerce/ BBA stream as well – with strong math and analytical skills. Around 30% of these students are post graduates (including MBAs). The current batch has an average work experience of about 3 years – ranging from 0 to more than 5 years – even up to 10 years. There is substantial diversity in the type of work experience they come with – in firms like Accenture, Amazon, Axis Bank, CapGemini, Coal India, CTS, Deloitte, E & Y, HDFC Bank, Hewlett Packard, IBM, ICICI Bank, Infosys, Persistent Systems, Royal Bank of Scotland, TCS, TechMahindra, Thomson Reuters, Wipro etc
AV: What about geography? Is Kolkata location a constraint?
PM: Not at all. A great thing is that this program has made Kolkata a destination for students from across the country. Students come not only from Kolkata and the East – in fact the highest percentage of people is from the South (Bangalore, Hyderabad, Chennai and smaller cities) and North (Delhi NCR). This batch has seen an increasing traction from the Mumbai/ Pune belt. Kolkata is a great city to study in – plus I guess students will head to wherever they find value. Also, since placements happen across the country, the program becomes location-agnostic.
AV: One of the USPs of your program is the placement support. How’s that doing?
PM: Oh yes…We make them work so hard during the program, it’s only natural we support their transition into the analytics world! On a serious note, this is linked with the philosophy of the program – we are dedicated to help people serious about a career in analytics to take the first step. This involves creating a relevant program, involving the industry in designing and delivering courses and driving placements. Students become a part of the Praxis Placement Program which is designed to identify appropriate career opportunities and facilitate their transition into the exciting area of analytics. We now have a 4-batch strong analytics network that is doing exceptionally well. These students play a key role in helping their juniors in their career progression.
AV: Interesting that you mention the alumni. That was my next question – how has been the industry acceptance of the program?
PM: The Program was launched on the advice of some Analytics industry practitioners – and we have continued to keep a strong connect with the industry. This ensures that our curriculum is always relevant. I must make special mention of PwC and ICICI Bank – who provide knowledge support and participate in teaching as well, along with professionals from other companies.
The program has been well received by the industry. Companies like Abzooba Inc, Axis Bank, BRIDGEi2i Analytics Solutions, Genpact, Happiest Minds, HDFC Bank, Hewlett Packard, HSBC Analytics, ICICI Bank, ICRA Techno Analytics, IDC, ITC Infotech, Karvy Analytics, Kie Square Consulting, Millward Brown, PwC, ValueLabs etc. have participated in the campus recruitment process. A good thing is that almost all these companies are repeat purchasers – which gives us a lot of joy.
Praxis Analytics alumni have transitioned into companies like Cardekho.com, Dell Analytics, Fidelity, IBM, Lowe’s, Quikr.com, Target, TCS, Walmart Labs, WNS etc. and are doing every well. The Analytics job market is white hot, and the Praxis community is exploiting the opportunity to the hilt!
AV: How should one apply? Is there a selection process?
PM: Students need to complete the online application process on the website www.praxis.ac.in. Admissions are open right now. We do have a selection process – I will reiterate that this is a serious program for serious analytics aspirants. We cannot be unfair and admit candidates who we feel are not equipped to create a career for themselves in this field. We thus shortlist candidates on the basis of their applications and they need to appear for a written aptitude test and a personal interview (online or in person). Course commences from the second week of January 2016.
Interested candidates can register here for more information
I think a Spring batch is an interesting move from Praxis. Praxis is clearly riding on the momentum gained from the hard work of team in last few years. I am personally excited about how analytics training arena is shaping up in India.
If you have any questions about the program or the process for Spring batch, please feel free to post them here.