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Not Just for Google: CPGs, Sony Seek Out Data Scientists

Handling Growing Amount of Consumer Info Has Become a Hot Job

By Published on .

It comes as no surprise that Google, Facebook, Twitter and a host of digital ad-tech and data firms are hiring data scientists. But as consumer data proliferates, companies including Unilever, General Mills and Wyndham are also recruiting people with mathematics, economics, statistics and computer-science degrees to wrangle a growing flood of consumer data.

Unilever, maker of skin-care brands including Pond's and Vaseline, wants to add a senior-level data scientist to its R&D team in Trumbull, Conn. The senior manager will focus on Unilever's skin-product line, and will manage three to five other data-science team members.

Wyndham Exchange division was established nine years ago and its data analytics team is already 34 people strong.
Wyndham Exchange division was established nine years ago and its data analytics team is already 34 people strong.

Another CPG leader, General Mills, is recruiting a big-data manager for its Minneapolis office who will essentially build the company's data system, according to a job posting on LinkedIn. The ad states that the hire will be tasked with leading the Global Consumer Insights team "in articulating a POV, Designing and Delivering a "1st generation' working prototype for "Big Data'!"

Sony Computer Entertainment America, maker of PlayStation, is seeking a data scientist, and so is agencyEA' class='directory_entry' title='Ad Age LookBook '>EA, publisher of video games including Madden NFL and The Sims. The latter is looking for a principal data scientist to work in its Digital Platform Data Group to help develop "a new unified Big Data pipeline across all franchises at Electronic Arts," according to its job description.

These makers of household brands are at varying stages of building in-house data analysis operations, but just about every type of company trying to harness unwieldy data sets is battling to recruit from a dearth of candidates to fill these positions.

Recruiting data scientists has always been a challenge, said Srinidhi Melkote, director of analytics and revenue management for Wyndham Exchange and Rentals, a division of hospitality company Wyndham Worldwide that offers time-share exchanges and vacation rentals. It's becoming more difficult, in part, because along with Wyndham, "companies like Google and Facebook are basically competing for the same kind of people," he said.

Even finding people with the desired backgrounds doesn't necessitate an automatic understanding of the business they're hired to assist. "What we've seen is even when we hire tenured people, there is a bit of learning curve," said Mr. Melkote.

Because of its focus on pricing and transaction data, the hospitality industry is steps ahead of others when it comes to hiring data people, according to Mr. Melkote. While some companies are only starting to build data teams, the Wyndham Exchange division was established nine years ago and its data analytics team is already 34 people strong.

"What we need are people who have that core technical skill set ... but on top of that , you need that creative ability to have a conversation with the data ... and actually be able to communicate the results," said Mr. Melkote.

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