Data Manager
By Gemma Morris
3rd August 2016

This time last year we wrote about what will define the data manager of the future, based on our 2015 survey and white paper ‘The state of data 2015’. Last year we identified that our respondents thought influencing, long term vision and listening and questioning were the most important skills for a data manager to have, while budget and project management ranked the least. And it seems now we’re in 2016 not much has changed.

What are the most important skills for the Data Manager of the future?

Our 2016 survey and white paper ‘Adrift on a sea of data: The state of data 2016’ reaffirmed the beliefs of last year. Soft skills still seem to be the most important set of skills for a data manager to have.

What skill will the data manager of the future hold?

The state of data 2016’ survey results

Why are soft skills so important?

We’ve written quite a few times in the past about soft skills and how important they can be when applying for a job, but why are they so important when hiring a Data Manager? This may be because a data manager must meet specific, highly specialised technical requirements and therefore skills such as project management and budget management may be expected by employers and in an ideal world a data manager would have these soft skills as well.

The importance of these soft skills can help to build a team, while a data manager will need the technical knowledge to successfully implement data analytics in an organisation, influencing, listening and questioning can be the difference between building or breaking a team and the long term vision of a data manager can allow a concentrated and systematic approach to make any long-range progress.

How do you hire for soft skills?

These soft skills can be a lot harder to recruit for, and even harder to train. Many soft skills come down to the personality of an individual, which can be hard to pinpoint on a CV. The interview process is the best way to tell if a certain person has the soft skill you are looking for.

When looking for potential candidates there are certain traits to look out for:

  • How do they communicate?
  • Have they had to deal with difficult situations, and how did they deal with it?
  • Have they previously successfully managed a team?
  • Do they have strong examples of teamwork?

The underlying theme lies with communication, team work and problem solving.

What does the future hold?

As the same themes seem to have appeared two years in a row it will be interesting to see how this trend will change or whether it will stay the same. As more Data Managers will be hired for their soft skills, as well as technical will we start to see a trend for the ‘data superhero’ with technical, business and soft skills.

Do you agree that soft skills are the most important traits for a data manager to possess? Do you see a change in this trend over the next few years? Let us know in the comments below.

To learn more about the state of data in 2016 download our whitepaper here.


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