Speaker Interview: Kim Nilsson

Kicking off our series of interviews and viewpoints from speakers at Hadoop Summit Europe, this interview is with Kim Nilsson, Managing Director, Pivigo Academy who will be speaking on “How to Build a High-Performing Data Team” as part of the ‘Hadoop for Business Apps’ track on Day 1, at 3:10pm.

You can register for Hadoop Summit here, and see the detailed schedule here.

HS: Tell us a little about your session.

My session is probably one of the least technical at Hadoop Summit, but nonetheless of great relevance to businesses struggling to take advantage of data within their organisations. I will talk about how to build the perfect, high-performing data team. Because ultimately it is people who will use the amazing tools presented at this event, and without a well-functioning data team there will be little or no useful outcome from any data science department.

The talk itself will focus particularly on the “team” part. What skills do you need to combine in your data team? Where do they come from, how do they interact? And most importantly; how do you create the perfect environment and culture that facilitates innovation? I will talk about how to build that perfect data team, and how to nurture it into excellence.

HS: What made you want to talk about the nature of teams in big data?

I wanted to talk about building data teams and how to find talent because I have seen up close the mismatch in expectations between companies and HR officials, and graduates seeking work. On one hand companies desperately seek talent, but they do not know exactly what they want and so have unrealistic expectations. On the other hand, graduates and PhDs who have in principle perfect backgrounds to excel in Data Science are struggling to translate their CVs into business language and are missing out on opportunities. I work with PhDs on a daily basis, helping them understand what skills are useful and how to present them, and our data science summer school is aiming to facilitate the transition by mixing companies and PhDs in a “lab” environment. This talk addresses the third aspect of the issue, what companies should look for when recruiting. If my talk can help one company hire one new, super-motivated graduate and gain business value my mission will be done!

HS: What sessions are you most interested in seeing?

I am always excited to see talks focusing on real business cases for Big Data at these events, as I think there are still many C-level executives who need convincing of the use of data. Because of this I am very keen to go to the talk by e.g. Juergen Urbanski on how telecom service providers are monetising Big Data. Sounds like a very interesting example to hear more about, and learn from.

HS: Thanks! Good luck with your session, and we’ll see you in Amsterdam.

Kim Nilsson is an Astrophysics PhD who, after spending seven years studying to most distant galaxies in the Universe, decided to go into business. She did an MBA, followed by working as a risk management consultant. She is currently Managing Director of pivigo recruitment and pivigo academy, two companies dedicated to working with PhDs looking to enter commercial roles, especially in Data Science. She is the main organiser of the S2DS ‘Science to Data Science’ summer school.