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POLL : Why is Learning Excel Becoming all the more Important ?

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A while ago I met a guy (at my friend’s place) and we were talking about random shit. Here is some meaningful bit of that conversation

I : Hey dude, What’s up! How was your day?
He : It was okay man! I had an interview at Snapdeal
I : How did it go?
He : They handed me with 30k rows of dealer data and asked me to make sense from it
I : Do you need any help? (I had told him earlier about what I do)
He : Thanks Bro, but I have submitted my report. If only I learned Excel and basic math I would have been able to do much better. None of what I learned in my “MBA” mattered.

2 Quick Conclusions

  • Well I don’t agree that MBA is complete waste of time
  • But I do agree that having solid excel skills matter. It matters a hell lot!

Let me share with you some real time instances which reinforced that same conclusion over and over again

 

Instance #1) At my brother’s office :  My brother used to used to work as a Financial Analyst at an pretty renowned IT company. Our dinner time conversations used to be about

  • How his kick ass excel trick solved a major problem and blew off his colleagues and especially his seniors!
  • Or about how much manual work people do in his office

 

When the company got acquired a ton of people were fired and for a good reason. Now why would the company want to keep employees who are drawing 20 Lacs ($30,000) for manually tallying reimbursement vouchers of the employees.

People were getting fatter pay cheques for longer tenures spent in the company combined with ass licking! No one cared to develop their skills.

A team size of 44 people from finance were reduced to 8. CFO, VP Finance, Senior Managers and the likes… all gone! Who were left? The people who actually had the skills and who worked

And yes my brother was in the 8 who stayed. He knew his fundamentals (finance and excel)

 

Instance #2) The general trend of Jobs around has changed a lot. Everything now is automated and more convenient. Take a look around, you’ll find an app based business for almost everything in life and a lot many are on their way. Behind these apps are consumers (real people) who are constantly feeding their information.

Companies are no more facing the problems of data paucity rather they have terabytes of overwhelming data that they want to make sense from. Think about it

  • People who used to work as data collectors, data entry operators are all redundant now! Companies don’t need them any more.
  • Rather people who can crunch that data, make sense from it, develop strategies, customize marketing campaigns, create better products are in high demand

 

I do a ton of live training assignments for many companies and I see herd of people doing either manual work or struggling with data analysis in Excel. I feel sorry for all of them because the truth is that their jobs are going to go away or might have already gone!

 

Technology is widely reducing redundant and unskilled jobs and creating a few smarter jobs.

 

Instance #3) Even Schools are teaching Excel In yet another training session in Mumbai for a top financial services company I met a senior Chartered Accountant, who walked upto me with his laptop asking my help on a few questions. Questions like

  1. Make a schedule of daily activities in Excel.
  2. Which is the most time consuming activity in your day ?
  3. Make a pie chart of all the activities.

 

These questions were home assignments given to his daughter who is in 8th grade. BAM! I was taken aback that even schools have started including a bit of Excel in their curriculum

These are just a few recent instances that have been on top of my mind but I encounter at-least 1 a day!

 

How has learning Excel helped me in my career!

I have been lucky to acquire solid excel skills along with a few other essential ones from the start of my career. And trust me they have been massive in terms of opportunities that they have got along.

One of the biggest wins was starting Goodly. Realizing that Excel, Data Analysis & Presentation are going to be vital skills in the future and starting a business around teaching these skills and doing consulting projects has been extremely rewarding.

As a side-note I keep getting job offers from CXOs to join their company from almost all Clients where I have conducted a training or have done a consulting assignment. The promises of matching the compensation compared to what I make from Goodly makes me smile. I turn them down for the freedom that I own an Goodly which is priceless!

 

Have you ever felt that Excel has become extremely important for you?

  1. How has the nature of your work changed since the time you started working? What has made you feel that Excel is an important problem solving tool that you must master ?
  2. How would your life be different if you knew Excel inside out ? What would it mean for your career ?

 

Open your heart out and share your story! I’ll reply to all comments 😀

 

  • Asel Samaganova

    what impressed me the most in this article is “A team size of 44 people “….in France the largest team I saw was 6 persons team…

    • Hey Asel,
      India is a land of a lot of people. You’ll always find a lot more people employed than actually needed.

  • Vikas Mhatre

    Hi Chandeep,

    Firstly, thank you for guiding us with all the knowledge you own in Excel and PowerPoint. It does help.

    Excel and PowerPoint has become a very vital working skills in almost all organizations (big or small). I had learned basic computer skills after completing school, And when I first started working I was a data analyst but more of a copy paste and data entry job. However, I tried to gain more and more by practicing excel at work which helped me a lot in my career.

    I am currently working as an MIS Executive for a recruitment firm in Mumbai. I have been given only one client and this client is one the top most in the Insurance sector across India. Before joining this company I was job-less for almost 2 years. When I got a call from this company they asked me to give an excel test on the same day of interview and i was not prepared. But the years of practical knowledge I had gained in my work hours helped me solve the test easily. I found the test very simple and easy. However, I was given a feedback that I was the first person (in almost 25 candidates) to pass this test above 95%. Rest were all in the range of 25% to 30%.Because of which, even being job-less for 2 years I was rewarded with whatever salary I was expecting.

    Now my hunger to grow in Excel and PowerPoint has grown. I need guidance for becoming more of an Analysis person than just formatting and presenting the data. I am not sure where to get help which will increase my skillset.

    Looking forward to hearing from you.

    Regards,
    Vikas

    • Hi Vikas, Your story is very inspiring, I am glad you din’t give up learning during hard times.
      Please write to me with your questions on Excel and Presentations and I will help you in the best way I can
      I also keep coming to Mumbai for live training assignments, let’s meet someday soon!
      Take Care and Keep Rocking

  • EthernetCable

    I found the two answers below, from this interview fascinating (http://www.johndcook.com/blog/2016/08/24/solar-power-and-applied-math/)

    A former industrial engineer at Boeing says:

    JC: What do you use much less than you expected?
    TD: Calculus.
    I spent so much time learning calculus and even other things like differential equations but haven’t had much opportunity to apply them. However, I do think calculus taught me important practical problem solving skills and I put that to use now tackling large problems that span multiple pages.

    JC: What math or technical skill do you wish you had more of or understood better?
    TD: Excel programming and design. Excel rules the world, and although I was
    introduced to it at school, I think more intense courses should be commonplace.

    • Thanks Jenny for sharing this! Read the full interview

      I agree with Trevor.. Excel & PowerPivot (& PowerBI) will be the future of self service Business Intelligence. It is awesome!

      I still think that there is a lot of gap between skills needed and what people actually have

  • Vidhat

    More and more complex data is being processed in our organisation. It becomes extremely important to process such data within the shortest possible time. Knowing excel has become essential inorder to stay relevant.

    • Hi Vidhat Thanks for sharing your views. Where do you work and do you mind sharing what kind of data do you process in Excel?

      • Vidhat

        Hi. I am working for a cancer hospital in mumbai. We work on data relating to employees payroll, patient-related, etc. I handle employees-related payroll, where excel is necessary to manipulate data.

  • Jay Frantz

    I deal with a lot of data every day and that tends to multiply during the course of project completion (often 3 to 6 or 7 months). There are a lot of moving parts and plenty of things to track (cost and production being 2 of them).

    I wish there was a way to make a relational database out of Excel as that seems to be the most familiar tool that all are familiar with to some extent as opposed to Access or File Maker – true database applications that many shy away from.

    I read that there are ways to do what I want (basically, to keep records, costs, production and tracking all in in one app and be able to search, for instance by day, and find everything that happened on that day). Working on a Mac seems to preclude that functionality.

    At any rate, thanks to Chandeep’s emails and some of his courses I have learned a lot more that when I started and am able to apply what I have learned (basically dashboards) and they are extremely well received.

    Maybe one day Excel on the Mac will have the same functionality as does its Windows counterpart.

    • Thanks for commenting Jay, Relational databases are possible in PowerBI. If you would like to create one in Excel, that will be possible with a bit of formulas (& VBA if required).
      It is encouraging to know that the stuff at goodly helped you! Thank you so much 😀

      Sidenote: I am not sure if Microsoft will marry Excel with Mac (unless everyone switches to apple computers)

Chandeep

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