Wednesday, 1 October 2014

CAP® Certified!

I just returned from taking the Certified Analytics Professional assessment which I…..(drumroll).… passed! YEAH! Nailed it! Want proof? Here is the confirmation from INFORMS:

You might think why does someone with nearly 25 years of experience in using analytics/operations research techniques to solve all kinds of business problems want to get certified? Isn’t experience enough and wouldn’t the assessment be a simple tick in the box for someone like him? Well, it isn’t. As I sat down at the computer of the Kryterion testing centre in Arnhem, I felt very uncomfortable. What if I failed?  Not only would it have dented my self-esteem, it would be a clear signal that my skills and knowledge are not up to standards.  Also I would be worried about the quality of the work I have delivered to my clients, was it really the best possible? It has been a while since I graduated from university. I have kept my knowledge up to date reading books, studying articles, visiting conferences and applying all this knowledge to real world challenges. Failing the exam would indicate that it wasn’t good enough to be top-notch.

There are several reasons for me to take the exam. First of all I was curious to know whether I would be able to pass it. Also, applying for the CAP® certification offers an independent and unbiased way to assess the quality of my capabilities. Next, it sets an example to all my younger colleagues, keeping your skills and knowledge up to data is a prerequisite for any analytics consultant, also for the experienced ones. Being an analytics (and/or #orms) professional requires you to have a working knowledge of new developments in our field of expertise and know about how to apply it in practice. Contacting a CAP® certified professional, clients can be assured that they have the best available knowledge at hand and see the difference compared to “someone handy with Excel calling himself a data scientist”.

Last but not least, as Peter Drucker states, what’s measured improves. Working towards the CAP® assessment helped improve my analytics skills. I used the CAP® study guide to get an overview of the subjects that will be tested, it includes sample test questions. The guide contains lots of resources (references to websites, books and white papers) supporting you in studying for the exam. The study guide and exam are based on an extensive job task analysis that was performed by a team consisting of people like Jack Levis (UPS), Scott Nestles (US Army), Jerry Oglesby (SAS) and  Sam Savage (Stanford).  It helped me identify the areas of expertise of the analytics profession for which my working knowledge was in shape, and which ones could use some refreshment. That way, I was able to improve my working knowledge of those areas by attending master classes, studying the occasional book and working along my colleagues with more experience in that specific area.  This approach resulted in a “pass” for the assessment. 

Drucker is known as the creator and inventor of modern management, with measuring performance as its central theme. Nowadays, measuring alone is not enough, analytics has become the modern way of management decision making. With certified analytics professionals companies can be assured that they get the best available.

By the way, I wonder what the official notice of certification will look like; will it contain the famous blue CAP® of Barry List?  

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