Data scientist : using a competency based approach to explore an emerging role

Nosarka, Naseema Banu
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Purpose: The aim in this research study was to explore the role and competencies of Data Scientists in South Africa as the role starts to emerge. Due to the newness of the role, jobs in this sphere are currently being filled by skilled professionals moving from other related areas. Knowledge and skills for Data Scientists were explored in order to examine the role of a Data Scientist and the competencies they should have. Design/methodology/approach: The studies that have been published on the role of a Data Scientist are limited as the field of Data Science is still new. Therefore the design of the research was exploratory and used qualitative methods. Data gathered for this research was analysed using thematic analysis. The study used respondents drawn from the banking and insurance industries as they are amongst the first to employ Data Scientists in the real sense of the term in South Africa. Six Data Scientists were interviewed. Originality/value: Research that focuses on the role of Data Scientists especially in South Africa is limited as most of the research has taken place in developed countries. There is also limited research on the role of a Data Scientist within the banking and insurance industry. This study contributes to practitioner and research knowledge by exploring the emerging role of a Data Scientist in the South African context. Practical implications: This research improves our understanding of the knowledge and skills Data Scientists should have within the banking and insurance industry. This research adds insight by highlighting the role that Data Scientists are currently undertaking by providing information on the specific skills that they report as required. This research can help in the shaping of education and developing the required skills for individuals who intend to pursue the career path of a Data Scientist as well as help managers hire the right people for the position of a Data Scientist.
A research report submitted in partial fulfilment to the Degree of Master of Commerce (Information Systems) in the school of Economic and Business Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, 2018
Nosarka, Naseema Banu (2018) Data scientist :using a competency based approach to explore an emerging role, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, <>