For this ComputingEdge issue, we asked Martin Petitclerc, senior software architect for Watson Analytics at IBM Canada, about career opportunities in the expanding field of big data. Petitclerc is an expert in areas such as matrix, relational, and hybrid online analytical processing (OLAP); the OLAP calculation engine; and advanced analysis using data mining. He was featured in the article “Three Experts on Big Data Engineering,” from IEEE Software’s March/April 2016 issue.
ComputingEdge: What careers in big data engineering will see the most growth in the next several years?
Petitclerc: I think demand will emerge for everything related to big data from user experience design to the creating, storing, and streaming of algorithms. The question one should ask is, “What am I interested in about big-data engineering?” Because there are tons of opportunities, choose something that aligns with your strength and passion.
ComputingEdge: What advice would you give college students to give them an advantage over the competition?
Petitclerc: Big data is not simple. The ability to deal with complexity and abstraction is important. You must be resourceful and able to move among different technology silos, to adapt and ensure you understand the overall picture as well as the details. You must be able to connect different pieces of a puzzle together to produce what you are looking for. We’ll always have more data, so the ability to continually solve the complexity of ever-changing big-data problems is important. It also means being curious enough to learn more and always know that most solutions are just temporary and that better ones will always exist and be required over time.
ComputingEdge: What advice would you give people changing careers midstream?
Petitclerc: Capitalize on your strengths and competencies in areas where you outperform but for which you also have a passion. The idea is to take on new challenges while leveraging the best of who you are. For example, if you are a financial advisor who loves stock markets and related analysis but is tired of sales and recruiting new customers, perhaps working to build predictive risk-analysis models for investment firms using big-data solutions would be a very good fit. Such an approach would let you preserve what you’re happy with and change what you don’t like, without having to start from scratch.
ComputingEdge: What should applicants keep in mind when applying for big-data engineering jobs?
Petitclerc: You need to have an interest in data and the way it changes. Big data must be exploited to produce meaningful information in a timely manner. This interest could subdivide into multiple flavors, such as data visualization, data-processing optimization, or social-media streaming. It’s not as sexy or appealing as creating video games, but if you have a real interest in big data, you’ll have just as much fun!
About Lori Cameron
ComputingEdge’s Lori Cameron interviewed Petitclerc for this article. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to contribute to a future ComputingEdge article on computing careers. Contact Petitclerc at email@example.com.