As someone who joined SAS as an intern, Melissa Jantjies, Business Solutions Manager: Advanced Analytics and Artificial Intelligence for SAS in South Africa, has a good understanding of the challenges young professionals face. Speaking at the SAPICS Young Professional and Student Virtual Conference, she took delegates on a journey to understand the analytics lifecycle within the supply chain through real-life use cases.
“I was introduced to SAS during the Statistics component of my degree in Economics. After completing my Honours, I applied for a technical internship at the company, which commenced in March 2017. Six-months into the year-long internship, I was invited to interview for a position at its customer advisory academy. Following my acceptance, I had the opportunity to train at the SAS head office in the US and have not looked back since,” says Jantjies.
Upon her return to South Africa, Jantjies formally joined the customer advisory team and is now part of the broader EMEA team focusing on AI and analytics. She also started the SAS Young Professionals Programme at SAS in South Africa two years ago which focuses on social initiatives and the development of young professionals.
“A big part of my job is to be an effective listener. If you listen to people, you get an understanding of the problems they face and the issues important to them. This then enables you to help solve those problems through technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and analytics. After all, insights are human-driven with technology there to provide the necessary assistance and not the other way around,” says Jantjies.
A central theme of the conference was to provide young professionals with an understanding of what they need to know about the job market especially those with a passion for AI and analytics. It is such a vast field, there are limitless opportunities to specialise in any number of components. However, it comes down to young professionals needing to do their research.
“They must find out what is available and gain the technical understanding of what the concepts entail. From there, it is then a case of developing the soft skills necessary to work in the professional space. It is also important to shadow those already working in the field during their engagements. Speaking to a range of people with different skills sets further provides the knowledge needed to come to grips with the full lifecycle. Of course, young professionals must stay up to date with the evolving technology and trends to remain relevant. It comes down to always being curious and inspired by the fast-moving world around you,” she concludes.