It’s back to school season and – even if you’re not in school – this season still seems to inspire us to think of ways to incorporate more learning into our own schedules. With the wide availability of multiple learning tools and platforms, it’s now easier than ever to learn on your own.
As the Global Academic Program Manager for SAS Canada, I find myself in a different classroom on almost a weekly basis and I am seeing similar trends across these classrooms: there are more women than before who come from a variety of backgrounds, with a multitude of experience to share with their peers. It’s exciting to see, given that research proves empowering women with the right education can help evolve the communities they live in. According to the OECD, increased educational attainment accounts for about 50 per cent of the economic growth in OECD countries over the past 50 years. On an individual level, this helps women feel empowered and gain more confidence.
WOMEN IMPROVE THE BOTTOM LINE
With the right education and guidance, women can achieve leadership positions while making an impact in their communities. At an organizational level, the right education can help businesses achieve greater success.
As a Senior Technical Training Consultant, I saw this first hand when I was tasked to help create an organizational analytics training plan for the largest employer in Canada. The entire process – from interviewing 80 users to understanding their needs to meeting with managers to learn about their priorities – resulted in improved business metrics. This organization was able to use their talent to work more efficiently and economically. Their analysts felt empowered and more confident. One business objective at the end of the training was for candidates to get SAS certified. By showing the organization how certification tests provided them with a tool to measure knowledge transfer, they saw the value and requested that certification testing become the finish line. In the end, most users chose to get SAS certified. Users shared how SAS training helped them reduce unnecessary extra reads of their data. The training helped them gain confidence to help solve business problems efficiently, while studying for certification helped them master the discipline of learning with a practical goal in mind.
By increasing employment, training and leadership opportunities for women, companies can help increase organizational effectiveness and growth. Based on research conducted by McKinsey & Company, it is estimated that companies with three or more women in senior management functions score higher in all dimensions of organizational performance.
NEW WAYS OF LEARNING
Given the demands on our time and the flexible nature of work, a curriculum that is accessible is essential. It means learning is portable and easily accessible with an internet connection –helping women stay adaptable and keep their skills sharp. These types of curricula also enrich your learning by giving you a global perspective on learning.
For those looking to learn at their own pace, SAS offers plenty of tools. New digital learning resources include analytics classes on Coursera and LinkedIn Learning. Courses available on these platforms include Machine Learning Using SAS Viya and SAS Programming for R Users – offering learning opportunities for advanced professionals and novice students alike; where they want it and when they want it.
Brand new to our platform of digital resources is the analytics simulation game, Cortex. Cortex was developed in collaboration with HEC Montréal and is an online teaching tool to help students grasp and apply predictive modeling techniques. Using a real-world case study, online leaderboard and dataset, students compete with their peers to see who can raise the most amount of money for a non-profit organization. The beauty of Cortex is that it can be adjusted to fit any skill level – whether you are an undergraduate business student or a Masters of Analytics student, academics can adjust the game to fit their classroom.
Initially developed as an academic tool for instructors, Cortex has sparked the interest of those in industry. Analytics professionals are interested in using Cortex as a tool to train their employees. The goal is to provide their employees with the confidence to deploy and optimize predictive models for their business, further demonstrating that “students” exist at all levels of the career ladder – while learning platforms continue transforming to meet the needs of today’s learners.
COLLABORATION AS STRENGTH
At every stage of your career, it is critical to have a community of friends, supporters, and mentors. These collectives help contribute to the growth and success of your career. Meeting likeminded individuals who can help strengthen these networks is key. The Women in Analytics (WIA) Network is a SAS sponsored networking program aimed to strengthen diversity in the analytics field. The program leverages the SAS values of authenticity, value for work/life integration, and passion to build a community where women advocate for each other.
Women naturally have a wealth of strengths: creativity, leadership, collaboration, adaptability – just to name a few. It is important to not shy away from exhibiting these qualities. Women in Analytics bridges this gap by providing a community to connect, support each other, and share expertise. Whether you are part of our growing network, a new student at University – or both – SAS offers a variety of accessible resources and platforms to “level up” your career.
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