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Life at Sinch: the journey of a Data Scientist working in HR

Hello! My name is Natasha Costa and for the past 9 months I have been working as a Data Analyst in the Employer Branding team.

My background is in astrophysics, I used to do research in the field of Astrochemistry, performing meteorite analysis in the laboratory. So, how did I end up working in a Human Resources area?

I started my corporate journey as a data scientist in Business Analytics at the Brazilian Institute of Economics. Later, I discovered Sinch and decided to jump into a new career: data scientist in HR area. Therefore, I went through data from elements in meteorites, external data from works in a country and now data about people, in People Analytics!

After my career transition, many people have asked me what an astrophysicist and a data scientist/analyst have in common. The answer is: everything! On a day-to-day basis, both are telling stories through data. It’s about translating numbers into events.

Even though being a data scientist in HR is not common, a degree in astrophysics allows people to learn analytical and critical thinking (as every scientist should), to learn very important programming tools and allows you to work with collaborators from all over the world. Since Sinch is a global company, I can develop my storytelling skills and learn how to deal with diverse cultures around the world.

At Sinch, no day is the same. We face new challenges, we deal with new situations and there is basically no time to be bored! Every day, I talk to people from all over the world. when it is morning for me, it’s easier to gather Sinchers around the world. In the afternoon I can concentrate on doing my analyses, coding, planning presentations and reports. I usually work from home, but I take any opportunity to go to the São Paulo office. It’s a safe, fun environment and recharges my “social battery”!

My goal is to help creating a “data culture” in the area, where we can act much more strategically than reactively. In addition, my job is to give visibility to HR data, provide insights, seek solutions, help in processes optimization and in managers decisions making.

For that to happen, you can imagine that I need to be in contact with the teams, know how to communicate with each one of them, sometimes make bridges between one area and another, and understand their pain points.

Because of that, I often joke that my job is like being a detective. You must be curious and eager to learn how processes work and look for clues to find where the problems are. At the same time, it takes creativity to solve them. You need to know how to listen, have an analytical thought and never getting tired of asking question. Saying “no” sometimes and knowing how to guide people will help you build a path that makes more sense for each case. It’s also important to know how to use data visualization tools such as Tableau, PowerBi, Data Studio, and also to know how to handle databases/data warehouses.

One of my biggest challenges in my everyday work life is sometimes having to create data from scratch, and strive to fill it in the best way. At the same time, this gives me the opportunity to structure my area, what is something big when we realize this is a global company present in 63 countries.

Sinch has grown exponentially in the past few years, and because of that we are still standardizing our processes. This is a great opportunity for people who are action-oriented and like to create stuff.

If you are interested in making a career transition and you come from an area more familiar with HR, focus on data science. There are several programming courses (I usually use Python), including courses already specific in People Analytics.

In addition, if you come from the world of data science or programming in general, take the time to learn and take courses in HR and People Analytics as well. Read books and never stop studying. My book tip is Storytelling with Data by Cole Nussbaumer Knaflic.

And most importantly, don’t be too afraid of making mistakes! Entering a new area is challenging and you will learn a lot on this journey.

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