SAS® Certification helps Nationwide Risk Consultant maximise investment in SAS® and further professional development
Younes Salama, Risk Consultant at the world's largest building society, Nationwide, undertook the SAS® Certified Professional Programme enhancing the company's use of SAS® and his own development
Salama has been a Risk Consultant at Nationwide since May 2011. As the world's largest mutual, with around 700 branches across the country, Nationwide has large amounts of data relating to risk exposure. Mr Salama was hired and charged with the responsibility of using the SAS® Business Intelligence Framework to bring this data together, so as to produce more accurate risk reports and capital models needed for both internal purposes and regulatory compliance.
Although Mr Salama already had five years' experience of working with SAS®, in August 2011 he attended the first part of the Creating Business Intelligence for Your Organisation course which focused on the essentials. Salama completed the second part of the same course which covered additional advanced topics in February 2012. The course enabled Salama to apply SAS® Analytics to support the development of regulatory and economic capital models and improve the use of SAS at Nationwide for reporting risk calculations. Salama's studies resulted in him achieving SAS® BI Content Developer Certification at the SAS® Professionals Convention in July 2012 with an exceptional pass rate of 100%.
A primary reason for Mr Salama choosing the SAS® Certified Professional Programme was to enhance his use of Nationwide's SAS Business Intelligence (BI) Framework, ensuring maximum return on the company's investment. Salama commented: "In particular, SAS Certification has really helped me get the most out of SAS Enterprise Guide which was a new product for me at the time. Now I'm competent it's much easier to access data sources and pull off rapid reports."
He continued: "Being the new man on the Nationwide team, I wanted to bring helpful solutions into the organisation that would make the strategic investment in SAS. Having already put a SAS Business Intelligence Framework in place, I wanted to improve the accuracy and comprehensiveness of the reports it produced."
Sharing best practice and knowledge at Nationwide
Mr Salama attended the two part course over August 2011 and February 2012. Of particular interest to Nationwide and Mr Salama was its focus on how to examine and manage metadata created in SAS. With such Big Data volumes being held in different parts of the company, Nationwide believed that knowledge of best practice for analysing and managing metadata would lead to core data quality and management improvements, and subsequently more accurate models and reporting.
At the five day training sessions Mr Salama participated in a classroom learning environment with peers, which resulted in a more thorough understanding of how to better build reports and dashboards for consumption by business users and other information consumers within the organisation.
As Salama describes, "The on-site training SAS provides is delivered by highly knowledgeable tutors and they have a real passion for what they are teaching. I was also impressed by the networking opportunities SAS Certification presented."
Upon successfully completing the final examination, Mr Salama returned to Nationwide able to share the knowledge gained with his entire team, ensuring that colleagues now understood the data quality and reporting issues faced by Nationwide, and the best practice for using SAS to address these challenges. The results have been improved internal and external reports, optimised usage of the SAS BI Framework, including Portal, OLAP and stored processes, greater knowledge of platform admin, as well as increased overall productivity.
Myles Hannon, Head of Education at SAS says, "There is currently an analytics and data management skills gap appearing as the world's appetite for making decisions based on statistical rigour grows. At SAS we want to use our 30 years of experience to provide the advanced skill sets within organisations which will ensure the maximum return on investments made in our products." He continued, "Nationwide's experience following Mr Salama's SAS Certification demonstrates the advantages that both employees and employers can achieve through structured certification."
Boosting professional development
Mr Salama's individual relationship with SAS stretches back to long before his recruitment by Nationwide. On completing an MA in Statistics at the University of Seville, Spain, Younes wanted to enter a career in programming, but needed to embark on some targeted training. Having looked at other training schemes in the industry, Mr Salama chose to take the SAS Certified Base Programmer course – a complete four week programme – in 2006 as he felt it was the broadest, most flexible offer on the market. On successful completion of the exam Mr Salama was recruited as a programmer by a large multinational pharmaceutical corporation despite his limited workplace experience.
"I do feel that the SAS Base Certification gave my CV the initial boost it needed to distinguish me from other graduates. Having an industry validation of my knowledge proved I would be able to hit the ground running and offer the company a new perspective and fresh ideas." He added: "Furthermore, the skills I have learnt during SAS training have proven to be transferable across industry sector and job role, meaning I have been able to embark on an exciting and varied career. My knowledge of SAS has taken me from healthcare to pharmaceuticals to finance."
Mr Salama has a 100% pass rate of SAS certifications and he scored a highly impressive 90% on the initial Base SAS® exam.
"The opportunities that SAS offers for self-development are fantastic and I continue to look for courses to attend. By the end of the year I hope to have completed advanced certification. Whilst I won't use all of the advanced skills in my current day-to-day job, I do firmly believe that when a challenge arises I will have the knowledge to find the best solution."
In addition to his ongoing involvement with SAS Certification throughout his career, Mr Salama is also a member of SAS® Professionals, an online social networking site dedicated to SAS software and services. The site constitutes a community of SAS experts exchanging hints and tips, and communicating through forums and groups organised by product, job role, course and geographical area. Salama has also been a regular participant in the annual SAS Professionals Convention where he has made connections and exchanged ideas.
Mr Salama explains the advantages to being connected to his SAS peers across the world, "SAS Professionals is a great way to ensure that you are always continuing to learn and improve. Here one can exchange ideas and best practices with some of the most experienced individuals in the field. It is also a great place to build up your knowledge in preparation for taking SAS certification as a large percentage of the membership has already undertaken that process."
Copyright © SAS Institute Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Nationwide Building Society (Certification)
Improve knowledge of SAS® Business Intelligence Framework so that it could be used for reporting risk and supporting the development of regulatory and economic capital models.
Nationwide's Risk Consultant, Younes Salama took the two-part SAS® Certification 'Creating Business Intelligence in Your Organisation' course and a range of other training courses including Base SAS® Certification.
Improved internal and external reports, optimised usage of the SAS® BI Framework, including WRS, Portal, OLAP and stored processes, greater knowledge of platform admin, as well as increased productivity overall.
“Being the new man on the Nationwide team, I wanted to bring helpful solutions into the organisation that would make the most of the strategic investment in SAS. Having already put a SAS Business Intelligence Framework in place, I wanted to improve the accuracy and comprehensiveness of the reports it produced. That's why I chose the course and it has given me a range of new insights which I have brought back to the business.”
Risk Consultant, Nationwide