If you’re familiar with the SAS story, you know that we have deep roots in academia. But our CEO Jim Goodnight has always known that roots aren’t enough to achieve incremental growth. You also have to plant seeds.

Analytics alone can’t drive change, help businesses succeed and make the world a better place. It takes people who know data science and understand all it can do. They're the problem solvers, the architects of change and the future for SAS and our customers.

SAS needs more of these people. The world needs more of these people. But we don’t just need to find them. We need to grow them -- or at least help them grow.

Early start with STEM

During the SAS Data Science and Advanced Analytics Forum, Goodnight talked about the expanding opportunities for experts in STEM areas and the high demand for SAS® programming skills. He said, “We need such people like never before, because the world is at a turning point. Today, data is the fuel that powers our progress.” Our mission, he explained is to “get better at turning new talent.”

That’s why SAS partners with high school teachers and universities, hosts online communities, provides free software and offers the SAS Global Certification Program. We consider it part of our mission to provide the training and resources people need to learn analytics and use it in new and exciting ways to make a difference in the world.

Careers in technology, marketing, financial services, insurance and pharmaceutical development start with an early introduction to STEM, programming and analytics.

To foster that early start, SAS hosts high school teacher workshops every year. During these free summer workshops, teachers get to explore SAS programming and learn how to use SAS University Edition to reinforce concepts their students need, so they can be successful on Advanced Placement exams. When these teachers return to school in the fall, they’re ready to show students how to prepare data for analysis and write SAS programs to solve problems.

This program is one of our many academic initiatives, including 60 undergraduate and master’s degrees and more than 140 certificate programs in analytics and related disciplines we’ve developed at universities around the world. Over the years, we’ve awarded more than 113,000 certifications, and university students now account for a third of all SAS exam attempts. And the interest in SAS certifications continues to grow, with a 20 percent increase in certification attempts in 2016 and an expected 20,000 certifications in 2017.

In May, I was proud to see us hit a major milestone with 1 million downloads of SAS University Edition. Learners of all ages can download this free statistical software themselves or launch it in the cloud via Amazon Web Services. With each release, we add new features to make the experience even better and help students gain valuable skills to bring to the job market.

Engaging students

SAS Analytics Days give students a chance to show off their skills and give local organizations a chance to meet top talent.

During the recent SAS Analytics Day at Oklahoma State University, our SAS Global Forum 2018 chair Goutam Chakraborty explained the purpose of these events. “It is a great opportunity for industry professionals from the region to hear from national experts in the field of analytics and to interact with MS in business analytics students,” he said. “For students, this is an incredible opportunity to showcase their talents via poster presentations of their practicum and other projects, and to network with professionals.”

I’m looking forward to more SAS Days this fall, and we already have events planned at Cleveland State University, Texas A&M University, Capitol Technology University and Bryant University. I’m always impressed by the accomplishments of the students in these analytics programs. And it’s also good to see how quickly they find career opportunities after graduation, which Chakraborty discussed in our recent chat.

Keep growing

Join the movement by getting SAS® certified. Gaining valuable insights from massive amounts of data is no easy task. And thousands of organizations depend on SAS certified professionals to handle their analytics and get the answers they need to run their businesses.

If you’re interested in getting certified, check out the on-demand webinar for an overview of the program and answers to frequently asked questions. We also offer a number of exam prep options, including guides and practice exams.

Visit the Learn SAS website and read my post, “Progress comes from learning,” for more information about SAS’ academic initiatives.

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Fritz Lehman

Executive Vice President & Chief Customer Officer

Fritz Lehman is passionate about customer care. As Chief Customer Officer, he leads a division of more than 2,000 employees dedicated to ensuring customer satisfaction and providing seamless customer support. Topics that interest him include excellence in leadership, fostering trust and building great teams.

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