Sibanjan Das: The Proper Blend of Business Process, Machine Learning, and Software Engineering Expertise

Data Science
Sibanjan Das | ServiceNow

Finding himself between an offer to move to the United States and work as a consultant on a job that he didn’t care for or to join an organization where he sees a huge opportunity to work on the things he appreciates the most. Sibanjan Das made a decision that, along the way, had a significant impact on his career, choosing the latter option. When he started in Data Science/Machine Learning, it was a relatively new area. But the journey since then has been equally challenging and rewarding.

Sibanjan shared his experiences to emphasize how crucial decision-making is in life. He says, “Few decisions worked well for me, and few didn’t. But life is all about making choices, and once you choose, stay with it. There is no going back. Perseverance is the key.”

Journey as a Leader in Data Science

Being a leader in the Data Science field has been a fun roller coaster ride for Sibanjan. He started as an engineer for ERP systems, then became a business analyst for the Order to cash processes. A few years later, he felt he was missing the other leg of Enterprise IT and transitioned into an analytics consultant role. He finally landed as a Data Scientist in 2013. But things never look that easy when you want to transition between different departments, as it takes effort, courage, sacrifice, and some hard decisions to make.

One of those decisions was Sibanjan quitting his job to study further in the area of Information systems and analytics when he was being offered to go United states as a consultant. He had decided to try the unknown, and no lucrative offers could stop him. When he started in Data Science/Machine Learning, it was a relatively new area. His focus was always to work in the field of Analytics, and he tried to get into a functional analytics role. He landed up in the field of Machine Learning unintentionally. But the journey since then has been equally challenging and rewarding as well.

When Sibanjan started learning Machine learning, he always had thought about how to inject Machine Learning into the workflows in ERP systems. Oracle ERP was always his den, and he kept on trying and exploring things to make this a possibility.

Things didn’t work out well until Sibanjan got a chance to work with Oracle on precisely what he wanted. He never wanted to miss this opportunity and gave in all to design that product. His previous business processes skills, Oracle ERP technical knowledge, and ML skillset all came in together to do some justice to the responsibility that the organization gave him.

The happiest moment was when he saw the modules that he designed and developed were released as a part of general availability and are mentioned in the product user guides. But during this time, he had already resigned, not because of Oracle, but for Analytics. He loves product development, but he wanted to be part of the enterprise analytics team for a long.

But, during this time, again, he was offered to move into Toshiba US as a Microsoft BI consultant. And yet, again, he didn’t go to the United States even when he had an H1B visa and was already stamped for travel. This was the second time he had rejected the travel. His friends complained that he was killing his growth. It’s not the case that he never wanted to go. But, for him, the work was more important than the location.

Today when he looks back then, he thinks he made the best decision. ServiceNow is a great organization to work with. The leadership there is terrific, with great people and enthusiastic teams. When Sibanjan joined ServiceNow, he joined as a business insight analyst within the Data and Analytics team. He believed this role was an apt role for him as this is an intersection of business and data science. But a few months after, he felt that the Data Science team within the same Data and Analytics team did the work he could do best.

Going the Extra Mile

During one of his conversations with his leader Brian Hoffman, Sibanjan expressed his interest in working with the Data Science team. He never said no, but he didn’t commit to taking him on his team either because he didn’t know him. So, he started testing him and asking him to solve some problems. He also challenged him with some more complex problems day after day.

Little did he know, Sibanjan had made up his mind about a do-or-die situation. He started working on two shifts – doing the work for Business insights during regular office hours and Data science work in the evenings. This continued consistently for a few months until one evening when Brian became tired and said, “Sibanjan, it’s time for you to officially join the Data Science team.” Five years later, when Brian and Sibanjan remember these events, they laugh thinking of those days.

Sibanjan also advises, “Try to focus on things you can control. Don’t focus on something not in your control, as it will burn you out. Being an Indian, like the rest of India, I am a fan of cricket. In cricket, there are batsmen, bowlers, and fielders. If you are a bowler and start thinking much about the skillset of the batsman, you lose your focus, and he might hit your ball hard. Focus on your bowling. Don’t think much about the batsman. He is there to bat and is thinking about how to hit your ball. Fielders are ready to save runs. Fielders might miss a catch, and you feel bad about it. But should you feel bad? Yes, but for yourself. Your aim should be to bowl him out, hitting the stumps directly. If you can’t do that, don’t blame the fielder or batsman. Do things that you can do, don’t think about conditions beyond your control.”

The Company’s Impact

For Sibanjan, the impact is a magic word. He shares one of the many things that he likes about ServiceNow: people love creating solutions for complex problems and enjoy making them successful. The ServiceNow team likes solving challenging problems and always strives to improve yearly.

Sibanjan believes, “There are very few companies in the world who think about their growth and their customer’s growth and success. ServiceNow is one of them, and they are at the forefront. And I am not saying this because I am a ServiceNow employee. I have truly felt this in ServiceNow. ServiceNow always has a positive vibe and focuses on making customers, employees, and the community successful. There is always a “people” touch in everything they do at ServiceNow.”

A Piece of Advice for Aspiring Professionals

Sibanjan believes that leadership is a generalized term. It’s a responsibility to help grow your organization and support the team, which starts with you. If you have never made your own decisions and worked on your priorities, you might not be in a position to make decisions for your team and organization when you are a leader. Can someone make decisions that will impact organization and individual’s life, career, and growth when they have never decided for themselves?

Secondly, Sibanjan talks about empathy. One needs to feel for their people and consider them as their own. He expresses, “My heart goes out to people who are loyal and strive to be a better version of themselves every day. When I say “loyal,” it doesn’t mean following orders but being dedicated to the commitments and things that they sign up for. Being a leader, we should try to make them successful and, more importantly, see them happy.”

The third is trust. Sibanjan thinks trust is the thrust that keeps driving a team forward and achieving its goals. The great thing that he learned from ServiceNow is servant leadership. Sibanjan clarifies, “Let me be honest here; I am not a leader yet. What I was speaking here is something I learned along the way and from our leadership team, who backs me up with the decisions I make. I am just someone working daily to see everyone happy – My family, colleagues, team, and organization. I try every possible way to have people around me happy and prosperous. I will consider myself successful as a leader only when I bring a positive impact on the world and community. ServiceNow provides me that platform, and so I am here driving our vision – doing work, work better for people, and creating a platform that makes work flow.”