Tanmoy Ganguli, the former Credit Risk Modelling associate at HSBC Retail Banking and Wealth Management has long been providing crucial analytic solutions in technology areas, such as credit risk, SAS and regression models. Currently, he is associated with DexLab Analytics, the prestigious data science and analytics training organization in Gurgaon as an honourable Program Director and lends his valuable assistance to the organisation.
In an exclusive interview, Mr. Ganguli, Program Director, DexLab Analytics talks about the challenges he faced in his career, compound analytical solutions he has worked out and how Data Analytics is evolving each moment, each day.
Question: First of all, a BIG THANK YOU for sparing your valuable time for this interview. It’s our pleasure to have people like you on-board, who strongly believes in the power and the future of data analytics. To start with, how did your journey in ‘Analytics’ begin?
Tanmoy Ganguli: Thank you very much. It’s of great honour to talk to the audience of Analytics India Magazine. Now, coming to the question you asked – Being a student of Economics (with specializations in Econometrics) I used to hear a lot of buzz about ‘Analytics’ within the University campus, but I was never particularly interested in pursuing it as a career option, since I was always more inclined into teaching and academic research.
However, while I was working as an Assistant Professor in a college in Calcutta, I happened to meet a group of analytics professionals who visited our campus to conduct a workshop for the students of the Economics department. They talked about different types of business problems, numerous high-in-demand statistical techniques, and a plethora of data challenges faced by the analysts in today’s world. What intrigued me the most was that the industry used very basic statistical techniques to address real life problems. I had a feeling that the rich academic literature if mined properly can better solve the real time business problems. That’s how it all began.
Question: Sometimes it’s the journey that teaches you a lot about your destination, but it also comes with its own challenges and obstacles. What were your challenges and how did you overcome them?
Tanmoy Ganguli: The biggest challenge, which I faced while switching my career from academia to the industry was the lack of relevant experience. After working for three years in the academia, the industry considered me neither an experienced professional nor a fresher. Besides, I was completing my PhD program, thus various HR consultancies and job portals thought I was over qualified for the job positions. All these negative acts left be a bit jarred, but I never lost hope. I waited for two long months before something good happened. Finally, I got a model development opportunity that was synced perfectly with my area of research and specialisation and what more did I need! That was the turning point of my life and my career, and since then, there has been no looking back.
Question: Would you like to mention a few analytical tools and frameworks that you have leveraged?
Tanmoy Ganguli: Since my induction into the corporate world, I have largely worked in the domain of Credit Risk Model Development and Validation. A substantial part of my analytics career revolved around scorecard development; hence, regression and decision tree frameworks have been the most leveraged analytical frameworks. Particularly, the logistic regression framework has been my bread and butter over the last three years.
Question: What compelled you to join DexLab Analytics?
Tanmoy Ganguli: Well, there’s an interesting story behind it. Let me tell it in brief – My informal association with Subhrajyoti (Co-founder of DexLab Analytics) dates back to 2012, when I was struggling to make my career in academics and he (SJ as I refer him) was trying to start up on his own. That time we both were strugglers in our respective fields of work. A couple of years later, in the mid-2015, I saw his name pop up in various social media sites, and to my surprise, by then he had co-founded DexLab Analytics, a premier analytics training institute with Mr. Vivek Debuka. From that moment onwards, I got involved with DexLab Analytics, though not full-time.
The thing that compelled me the most was – unlike other ‘training schools’, DexLab was not a money minting machinery. It had a flavour of freshness in thought process and it had a very particular vision in place – it wanted to grow into a consulting organisation!!! They were open to ideas for exploring uncharted territories, and on the process of growing to be the ‘next big thing’. Initially, I started off by contributing a few informal supports such as writing blogs, conducting interviews for hiring resources, etc. But, things took a new turn from the beginning of 2016, when training requirements from senior clients started coming in. I got more and more involved with their on-line trainings and decision-making processes. Soon, DexLab became my poster child, just the way the character of ‘Severus Snape’ meant to late Alan Rickman. I took no time in resigning from my last corporate job (Credit Risk Modelling, Decision Sciences at HSBC). And HERE I AM!!!
Question: What According to you sets DexLab Analytics apart from the Rest?
Tanmoy Ganguli: Dexlab Analytics has a spirit of freshness, a tune of its own. Money has always been an incentive for the organisation, but never an objective. Hence, revenues are a means to a greater end, which creates ample scope to explore a lot, experiment more and create new things. Another important thing, which attracted me towards DexLab is its undue importance to the core values. To elucidate that, let me take up the process of recruitment – recruitments in DexLab are not like any other training institute in India. While most organisations that offer Analytics training lay a lot of stress on the technical knowledge of candidates, here we try to understand whether a candidate’s values are aligned with the core values of our esteemed organisation. According to us, knowledge can be transferred, technicalities can be taught, but it’s very difficult to breed values in one, who is not aligned to the organisational vision. At DexLab, we take pride in looking at things from a different perspective and this is what sets DexLab Analytics apart from the others.
Question: Could you tell us about the future aspirations of DexLab Analytics?
Tanmoy Ganguli: The prime objective of DexLab would be to provide a best-in-class training experience to its clients and students. To shoot for the stars in the horizons, the organisation has plans to invest in revamping the skill of the technical team so that they can come up stronger and brighter in the near future. While we look to consolidate our bread and butter and grow exponentially on the training front, we also aim to set our foot in the consulting front, by the middle of 2018. Consulting provides the ‘food for thought’ for any Analytics organisation and we look to re-deploy that knowledge to enrich our trainings further. Just the way research and teaching re-enforce each other, consulting and training would fulfil each other. Concisely, we look forward to explore the potential of analytics in solving daily household and other microeconomic problems.
Question: With your experience into Analytics, what are the most intricate Analytics solutions you have worked on?
Tanmoy Ganguli: Throughout my entire analytics career, I have relentlessly worked on making banks do better banking! And trust me, it was not easy like a pie. Nevertheless, I enjoyed what I was doing. In fact, I used to cherish the exposure I was getting from my first company, which helped me become a better analyst. One of my most prized projects was a Loss Forecasting Project for my first company, which required deploying time series models on extremely small datasets, which later went to become a full-fledged research paper and was published in a reputed national journal. A game-changer, I must say.
A major chunk of my projects involved developing business scorecards for commercial and retail portfolios. Banks deployed these scorecards for designing their Acquisition or Account Management strategies, as and when applicable.
Question: Which field of Data Analytics excites you the most? Is it SAS, tableau, or Machine Learning?
Tanmoy Ganguli: Anything about Data Analytics excites me, but to be precise, SAS is a hot favourite of mine and I always look forward to work on it. However, Machine Learning is the call of the day and any Analytics organisation need to leverage it to the fullest in order to breed success. Though I am much inclined towards SAS, I look up to explore all the alternate advanced modelling techniques as much as possible, and in the best way.
Question: Who is your role model in data science arena?
Tanmoy Ganguli: Very tricky a question to answer! We have so many inspiring people around us that choosing one becomes extremely difficult. Like others, I too have a couple of role models, but none from the data science domain in specific: Steve Jobs and Saurav Ganguly. One’s vision and the other’s aggression continue to inspire me every day.
Question: How do you think ‘Analytics’ as an industry has evolved today?
Tanmoy Ganguli: The analytics industry is very dynamic and evolving fast. Change is the only constant in this industry and I believe this situation is not going to change over the coming decade at least. The industry is always in a state of ‘disruptive innovation’. With Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence around, the game is changing its rules. The accuracy with which Machine Learning models predict the behaviour of customers or the preciseness of the recommender systems or sentiment analysis from bulk of structured and unstructured textual data was unimaginable a decade ago. This industry is here to stay, and it would boost further growth opportunities in the coming decades.
Question: What are the challenges that this budding industry is facing? Would you like to highlight a few?
Tanmoy Ganguli: I would say lack of awareness is a major challenge faced by this industry. We see people coming up to us for certificate training modules, but on closer inspection, we found out that they hardly have any idea about the course they have come for. Greater workshops and awareness sessions need to be conducted to ensure that people realise the true strength of analytics and the immense future possibilities it harnesses.
Another challenge is in the mindset of professionals. People fear to fail and are too standardised in their outlook. They stick to the very conventional analytical techniques as far as delivering solutions are concerned, hence difficult to be moulded. Professionals need to experiment, they need to fail, but not stop trying repeatedly. No one invented the Steam Engine at one go. Such failures would result in better innovation that would disrupt the conventions and that’s how we all grow!!!!
Question: What advice would you give to younger self, who are on the verge of entering this domain of analytics?
Tanmoy Ganguli: For the young aspiring folks I would like to say just one thing: “Stay Hungry… Stay Foolish”. This is a very favourite quote of mine from Steve Job’s 2005 Stanford Convocation lecture. Stay Hungry for knowledge, which helps explore the unknown and Stay foolish enough to fail in attempts for a greater future success. Remember, every master was always once a disaster. There’s nothing wrong in falling, it just helps you keep growing!
Question: Thank you for your time Mr. Ganguli! It was great speaking to you!
Tanmoy Ganguli: The pleasure is all mine.