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Excelling in Data Science: MiQ’s Journey to Becoming a ‘Best Firm for Data Scientists

I want to take this opportunity to thank Analytics India Magazine for recognising MIQ as one of the best firms for data scientists.

In an era where data science stands as a pillar of innovation and transformative insights, being recognized as a ‘Best Firm for Data Scientists’ by a prestigious publication is not just an accolade but a testament to an organization’s unwavering commitment to excellence. Today, we bring you exclusive insights from two key leaders at MiQ, Biddappa Muthappa, Director, Data Science, and Hitesh Nahata, Director- Data Science and Analytics, as they share their perspectives on what this significant recognition means to MIQ.

AIM: Congratulations on being recognized as the Best Firm for Data Scientists by Analytics India Magazine. Can you share what this recognition means to MiQ and how it aligns with your data science initiatives?
Biddappa Muthappa: I want to take this opportunity to thank Analytics India Magazine for recognising MIQ as one of the best firms for data scientists. It’s a great testament to our team’s hard work in developing cutting-edge solutions for our stakeholders and customers. So, every year, we build our data science strategy in a way that focuses on key initiatives to improve our core data science practices, implement new cutting-edge technology, and consistently strive for stretch goals beyond our day-to-day deliverables. This recognition will motivate us to double down on our efforts to create best-in-class data science practices and align with our core strategy to be number one in this space.

AIM: What specific practices or strategies within MiQ do you believe contributed to this recognition?
Biddappa Muthappa:
We have come a long way in experimenting with multiple data sciences and best practices within our team. In the last few years, we have successfully implemented critical processing practices, enabling our team to drive value and contribute to the overall MIQ growth. I will discuss three crucial practices or strategies contributing to this recognition.
One is to start with the Result-Focused Approach. So, we provide our team with complete autonomy to use any data science or analytical toolkit to solve problems. We emphasise the business value and the model or tool used to achieve it. This process will help our team understand the end impact and increase adoption, which, in turn, contributes to the company’s overall growth.
The second is the Delivery Discovery Framework. In any data science or analytics team, balancing delivering results and conducting research to meet the end customer’s expectations is crucial. So, at MIQ, we have a clear and solid framework for addressing both delivery and the research-oriented problem statement. This framework helps each experiment and learn continuously.
Finally, create an Environment To Innovate. As we all know, data science and analytics are evolving rapidly. And it’s crucial to create an environment where the team can continuously learn and understand new concepts and drive innovation. To summarise, these three factors could help us scale, grow, and be number one in the space we operate.

AIM: How does MiQ support and foster professional growth and development of data science employees, and what roles does the certification play in this?
Biddappa Muthappa: So, in MIQ, people are the beating heart of our business. We always double down our efforts to foster our employees’ professional growth and development. So, there are a couple of things to call out. So, we have a strong L&D strategy to upskill every individual continuously. We facilitate multiple internal and global hackathons for our folks to innovate ideas and implement cutting-edge solutions. We provide opportunities for folks to present at conferences, publish blogs, and enable thought leadership. To summarize, we have a clear development plan for our team. And this certification will be an added feather in their cap. It also raises our expectations for further accomplishment.

AIM: Can you provide examples of how being recognized as a best firm for data scientists has impacted MIQ’s ability to attract and retain data science talent?
Hitesh Nahata:
The short answer to your question is that it has significantly impacted our capability to do both things. Unsurprisingly, the whole data science function is a high rotation function, across industries and companies. But we’ve also observed that nowadays, within the data scientist’s community, there’s a lot of emphasis on finding the right role and opportunity. Some of the points that get mentioned are having autonomy and having a good and scalable L&D function within the company etc. While we have all these things, this recognition, which is also an industry-accepted recognition, plays a big role in reinforcing MIQ’s positioning and the importance that MIQ gives to data science across our products and solutions. To talk about people, I think we’ve had lower dropout rates. When we roll out an offer, in most cases candidates do join us. We’ve also had a lot of boomerang candidates. People who have left the company have explored other options and have realized that MIQ was a good place for them. So, they’re coming back as well. MIQ is a relatively young company, and it’s also in a very niche space. Only some people have heard of programmatic advertising, but that does not reflect in our engagement with potential candidates, whether they are laterals or freshers. When we do campus connects, there’s a lot of enthusiasm and engagement between students who want to intern with us and wish to join us full-time. This recognition has played a significant role in reinforcing and communicating
what MIQ really believes to the external world.

AIM: How does this recognition impact your relationships with clients or partners, and what value does it add to MIQ’s reputation in the industry?
Hitesh Nahata:
It has improved. It is one of our key differentiators. Again, MIQ primarily operates in an industry primarily focused on media: media buying, media selling and execution of digital marketing campaigns. And our engagement model is such that we are partnered with some of the world’s biggest holding companies or agencies. So, investments that MIQ has made in its data science and tech capabilities and these recognitions play a significant role in our partnership conversations with them. Obviously, a big part of this is some of the things we have developed and demonstrated to our clients. Still, our regular recognition in forums like this, our participation in external events, and our white paper presentations play a significant role in reinforcing the message we are trying to communicate. MIQ today, is one of the leading companies in the world when it comes to data science and tech capabilities. And our COE, here in Bangalore, is a critical differentiator in our commercial engagements. Investing in a team and calling it a key differentiator is one thing. But recognitions like these are something that we are proud of, and they’re a part of our every client conversation.

AIM: In your opinion, what distinguishes MIQ from others in terms of creating an environment that is conducive to the success and satisfaction of data science employees?
Hitesh Nahata:
There are a lot of factors. But to me, the number one pointer would be the widespread acknowledgement of data science’s impact across all the things we deliver from our office. When our data scientists work on a project, they are sure that their solutions will be adopted in the market, and they can deploy it to their satisfaction in the most efficient manner. So MIQ has created a support system with commercial sponsorship, technical sponsorship, and a lot of autonomy in how one wants to build solutions.

Second, our whole focus on innovation manifests in multiple ways. We have various hackathons that happen in a year; we have very client-focused, very agency-focused discussions where, again, the focus is on innovation and building capabilities that can help us do what we do better. So, there is this belief that if I have a great idea, I can take it to my peer or my immediate senior, and if it has potential, it will be picked up. We have worked hard to reinforce this belief amongst our people. No good idea would be left unacknowledged, or if it requires an investment, we are always open to making those investments.

Additionally, we are also in an industry that is evolving very, very fast. Multiple data partnerships come into the mix, there are various products and solutions that we’re always building, there are privacy concerns, and GDPR and compliances that we must deal with. It also makes it a good challenge for our data scientists to constantly think on their feet and come up with solutions that would work, that are scalable, and that would help MIQ achieve its goal in the longer term. So, a combination of all of these plays a significant role. There’s a lot of scope for individual growth of our people. It’s not just that if you’re a data scientist; your objective is to build products and solutions for the company, but the aim is also to ensure that you grow with us. Not just from a career perspective but also how we ensure that our data scientists are becoming subject matter experts in their respective areas, and then white paper presentations, tech talks, etc. are encouraged within MIQ.

AIM: Could you share insights into your personal journey with MIQ? How did you come to be a part of MIQ, and what emotions or experiences stood out for you along the way? Considering the multitude of opportunities available, are there any specific aspects or achievements you and your team would like to highlight as particularly meaningful or exciting?
Hitesh Nahata:
I joined MIQ almost two and a half years back. And I came from a predominantly data science background. And for me, the whole programmatic advertising industry was relatively new. And it was a new challenge. But right from day one, I was blown away by the fast-paced nature of our work in our COE here. I joined as somebody who leads the data science team focused specifically on our clients’ projects. From there on, I also started to build local products and solutions, which are not on our enterprise platform but are basically solutions very very specific to a market. I witnessed firsthand how some of these ideas take shape, from inception to becoming scaled products to reaching a phase where it is now integrated into a central roadmap. The whole journey has been relatively fast and full of learning I’m really pleased about is my decision to join MIQ. I was apprehensive; it was a new industry and a new challenge but, the things that I’ve learned here, I don’t think I would have gotten that opportunity anywhere else.

Biddappa Muthappa: It’s been four and a half years with MIQ. So, I was the 19th member of the central data science team to join in 2019. It’s been an incredible journey from day one. So, I started implementing a lot of processes. We have devised multiple strategies to scale, add value, and add incremental value to the overall business. We are an excellent 55-member team comprising research and data scientists to manage delivery and research. It’s been an incredible journey. I’ve learned a lot, from people management to delivery to everything, including the end-to-end skill set required to manage a team. It’s fantastic. So, I’m looking forward to scaling up in 2024 and adding a couple of best practices to manage a high-performance team.

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