[Photo provided to China Daily]

They may not be able to read minds, but those who dig into data can be critical to a company’s operations.

When Wang Zaiqing took up her first career job in July 1989, China’s journey on the road to opening-up was just 10 years old.

After graduating with a Bachelor of Administration degree in Taipei, Wang worked as a systems analyst for the carmaker Yulon Motor, and now, 31 years later, her career seems to have come full circle: she again works for a carmaker, Changan Motor in Chongqing.

But in the interim, just as opening-up has changed China almost beyond recognition, technology has transformed the way Wang works, too.

In the 23 years between working for Yulon and for Changan she held down a string of jobs in various industries, including biopharmaceuticals, healthcare, telecommunications and information technology and gained a great deal of expertise in data analysis, algorithms, data architecture and IT project implementation.

“For the past 20 years I have devoted all my time and effort to analysis, whereas before that, traditional programming and data analysis were mixed together,” says Wang, director of digital operations for Changan Automobile.

She joined the company in 2018 and the following year founded a studio within the company that specializes in data analysis, data architecture and algorithmic modeling.

Wang considers the studio a training center in which all staff in the business department can make their own reports that are automatically updated as data changes. This means each person can be a data analyst in their own field, she says.

In November 2019 the Tsinghua SEM Center for Internet Development and Governance in conjunction with the employment-oriented website LinkedIn published a report about digital talent that said digital transformation has extended to traditional industries including manufacturing, healthcare, finance, education and consumption goods, and that the importance of digital talent in these fields was constantly increasing.

The job of data analyst has become an emerging occupation in China over the past few years in China, attracting both new graduates and veterans.

When Wang was a programmer she was the only woman in her company, but now half the data analysts around her are women, she says.

She regards curiosity and patience as vital traits for a good data analyst.

“When you see a phenomenon you need to be sensitive and ask why something is happening. Running data needs time, including time for making mistakes. Sometimes you may come up against a dead end when pursuing some clue, and you need to be patient enough to really dig into the data and turn it upside down.”