“Jigsaw was literally a turning point in my career” Kaushik Anantharaman

As you know, as part of our four year anniversary celebrations, we have been re connecting with some of our first students. Today we would like to introduce Kaushik Anantharaman, one of our first Jigsawites, who, after the Jigsaw course was able to make a shift from a Sales/Marketing profile to Analytics. It was wonderful catching up with him and finding out how studying at Jigsaw, made a positive impact on his career. Happy to share some excerpts from our chat…

Tell us about the last four years and how your career has evolved since finishing your course at Jigsaw Academy.

Joining Jigsaw was literally a turning point in my career, because if not for Jigsaw, I wouldn’t have been able to make a shift from a Sales/Marketing profile to Analytics. At the risk of sounding clichéd, I would say that the three month Foundation Course in SAS and the additional Retail Analytics course, gave me a perspective of how big companies use huge amounts of data to forge actionable insights which could have a big hand in driving business forward. Also, the various sophisticated data analysis techniques taught during the course were very helpful when it came to delivering solutions. Although, I never had to actually work on SAS myself, I had to handle a team that did, and what I learnt in Jigsaw helped me to delegate and direct responsibilities more efficiently when it came to projects.

As for the last four years, I joined the CPG-Retail team in WNS a little over 3 years ago, and started in a team that worked mostly on retail or food-service analytics. After a year or so, I had a 3 month stint in the US at the headquarters of the client, where my responsibilities were mainly business development and around project deliverables around the client’s in-house consumer research protocols. Since August 2013, I have been working in the London office of the client, as a part of the Knowledge and Insights team of the regional BU. My work is mostly around Shopper Analytics. My responsibilities are mainly to work with the designated research vendors to support with shopper analysis and insights on various projects pertaining to Shopper Marketing, Customer and Commercial teams, Annual Business Planning etc. I also play one of the key roles of business development for my parent company (WNS).

As of now, my plan is to learn as much as I can working at the client’s location. In the future, I want to improve my knowledge in primary research, both Consumer and shopper. Furthermore, I am planning to take up a course in Digital Marketing and hopefully get a reputed certification in the future, so that I can hope to secure a role in the Digital Marketing Analytics/Research domain.

Any special anecdotes or memories from that first course?

It has been over three and half years since the course so I don’t recall any specific anecdotes, but i can say this, that both Gaurav and Sarita were very dedicated and helpful during the whole time and they used to go the extra mile to ensure that we understood what was going on. And this doesn’t mean there was any spoon-feeding. It is just that both were very effective and professional tutors.

What was your biggest take away from Jigsaw

I would definitely say that the things I learnt in Jigsaw were very helpful in more ways than one. Other than the aspect of learning about statistical techniques, SAS etc, the most important thing I learnt in Jigsaw and I was able to practice in the last three years, is that one shouldn’t lose sight of the big picture. There will always be clients who have a “hunch” and would want to forcefully prove this particular hypothesis even if the data says otherwise. At such moments, it is important not to lose sight of the objective and stick to what is right rather than manipulate the data to please the client.

You have seen analytics evolve over the years. Any insights?

I wouldn’t consider myself to be working at the forefront of break-through analytical projects, so my comments on this question would be limited to the work that I have been through so far. On a very basic level, there are two types of analytics, Descriptive and Predictive, while the latter is the more sought after and more “sexy” to be associated with, the former cannot be ignored and is to be effectively used to complement the progress of the business after the insights from the predictive analytical work are implemented. I think many clients, mostly those that have a surplus of time and money to invest in analytics, have this tendency to follow pursuits that they term as “Interesting”, but if this doesn’t help better the bottom-line of the brand/category/store/company , no matter how interesting the findings of a statistical technique are the client would end up paying a fortune for a very disproportionate ROI. This happens a lot.

Any pearls of wisdom for other Jigsawites?

I would just have to say one thing…. while working in the analytics domain, it is very easy to get lost in techniques, numbers, formulae, theorems, white-papers etc., not that these things aren’t helpful, one’s knowledge of them actually would determine how well your career pans out, but don’t lose focus of the problem at hand. When you go through GBs and TBs of data, it is very difficult to spot an anomaly, and when you do, you will have to rise above the statistics of the whole situation to find out the cause for the anomaly. As some wise guy once said, “There are no facts only interpretations”.

Thanks Kaushik. We wish you all the best as you soar ahead in your career.

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Do you also want to begin a career in Analytics? Check out Jigsaw Academy’s array of Analytics Courses and take your career to a whole new level.

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