How Omdena AI Task Leaders Can Harness Soft Skills in Omdena Projects

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Feb 7, 2022
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How Omdena AI Task Leaders Can Harness Soft Skills in Omdena Projects

Author: Elena Barbulescu, Mulugheta T. SOLOMONMax Lutz

“Everyone is very friendly and supportive, very willing to learn and help others learn.” This is certainly the case with Omdena

What is truly unique about Omdena is, first and foremost, the cultural understanding in the community that “collaboration is the most effective way to learn, grow, and build a thriving career.”   

When you are selected as part of a team of 50+ collaborators, each one from a diverse background and skill level, it is all the more crucial that all members work to support each other in an open and safe environment. 

What is an Omdena Task Leader?

The insights from this article stem from three collaborators from one Omdena project who took on a task leader role, and we share how soft skills contributed to the backbone of our success in our first project together. The project partner is Kanda Weather for whom we built a 12-hour rainfall prediction model using radiosonde balloon data.  

What does “collaboration” means at Omdena?

It is through the reliance on this cultural aspect of collaboration that ideas are freely exchanged to build the best solution to a real-life problem use case, and this is where the magic happens.  

Soft skills you need to develop in your career

For collaboration to run smoothly and swiftly, there is a bundle of soft skills that must be present in some order or level: cultural empathy, creative thinking, problem solving, initiative, and of course presentation skills, to name a few.

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Mistakes to avoid when joining an Omdena Challenge

  • Mistake 1: Placing individual biases of understanding to the culture of the project. Individual biases can come in many forms. “How to identify Bias: 14 Types of Bias” is a great article that depicts fourteen examples of bias. 
  • Mistake 2: Believing that if you’re familiar with the data science process your knowledge trumps other people’s knowledge. Succeeding in an Omdena project does require more skills than that. 
  • Mistake 3: Getting discouraged at the unknown factors and nuances of bottom-up collaboration. Bottom-up collaboration requires individuals to make a personal investment, but sometimes that is not clear how and the individual may not take that initiative. Bottom-up collaboration also hones in on individuals focusing on task-specific initiatives and resources, however, that may not always be clear either, and in such cases, this can affect the motivation of individuals. These are two possible places anyone can get discouraged, but the key is to remain engaged, communicate with others, discover the unknowns, and explore the nuances.

Soft skills you will develop as an Omdena Task Leader

These 10 soft skills are discussed in further detail below through our stories and experiences.

  • Skill 1: Knowledge management
  • Skill 2: Critical thinking
  • Skill 3: Effective communication
  • Skill 4: Pro-active problem-solving
  • Skill 5: Ability to work in a team
  • Skill 6: Capacity to discuss and propose new ideas
  • Skill 7: Presentation skills
  • Skill 8: Courage to take initiative
  • Skill 9: Building an open mindset
  • Skill 10: Listening and learning from others

By Mulugheta T. Solomon | Task Lead in Knowledge Library and Tutorials

Knowledge management is a process of bringing together a collection of methodologies and resources, sharing that information in a productive and useful manner, and managing the flow of information and collaboration. Three lessons I have learned during my time as task lead in the Omdena project are collecting relevant resources, sharing with the team, and using the knowledge and information shared to support others to learn the new technology, methodology, or tool so that all collaborators contribute to the problem understanding, data collection pre-processing and modeling and deployment procedures during the challenge. 

My experience in several collaborative Omdena projects showed that not only technical but non-technical skills such as domain knowledge and other soft skills are essential to effectively collaborate and work in a diverse environment. A few of the more vital soft skills, that tend to outcome and strengthen the success of the challenge, I have experienced (and learned about) are critical thinking, effective communication, proactive problem solving, intellectual curiosity, and business sense.

In addition to the above qualities, the motivation to go the extra mile, and the flexibility to encourage, support, and give your time fosters a bonding environment where collaboration thrives within diverse teams of different cultures, work experiences, time zones, countries of origin, and ultimately a variety of cultural backgrounds. 

Above all, it is rewarding to show your availability and willingness to ask any question, to be ready to provide answers to any question by others, or provide suggestions of alternative solutions in a bottom-up approach.  These aspects of an Omdena collaboration experience have made an impression on my perspective. And through this process of giving, you find yourself building great friendships with some of the best professionals, building networks of talent, and potential job offers. In the cases where a collaborator becomes a Task Lead, leadership and communication, reporting, and presentation skills are what you can also learn most, as well. 

By Max Lutz | Task Lead in Data Collection

Contributing to Omdena’s project can be very rewarding in terms of learning and growing in data science. During an 8 weeks project, you will discover new people and connect with them on a professional and sometimes personal level. With people you just met, you will try to propose a solution to a problem using not only hard skills but also your creativity, your ability to work in a team, and your capacity to discuss and propose new ideas.

Leading a task can be a daunting challenge. Realizing that I did not need to be a data science expert to lead people helped me a lot. No one is expecting you to bring all the answers. In my experience, encouraging people to contribute, helping people in need, keeping your task organized, and tracking the progress of your task are what will make you a good task leader.

An Omdena project is an incredible environment where you will learn from others and share your knowledge, where your unique experience and background make you sometimes propose an idea that no one thought about and that will bring the project closer to success.

By Elena Barbulescu | Task Lead in Exploratory Data Analysis

My first Omdena experience was certainly a memory with immense growth and development. And all this could not have been possible without the growth in my soft skills. Much of this growth happened because I had the pleasure of interacting with fantastic project Task Leads. And we all lead with soft-skills practices, first.

For me the most critical soft skill which helped me make the most out of my first Omdena experience was initiative. I took a dive into volunteering to lead a task on the project, and that led to many rewarding experiences, including building new friendships and support which go beyond the Omdena project. Another heavily important soft skill was the ability to do presentations. Even though I have performance anxiety, I seek to have lots of practice at showing up and putting myself out there. This in turn forced me to stay up to date on the project, ensure I provide support and guidance to others, and made me a reliable collaborator and task lead.

Having an open mindset to show up and listen and learn from others was another very powerful skill that I could depend on to help me navigate a lot of the unknowns in domain knowledge, as well as how to tackle aspects of the data sets that I had never encountered before.  I used this skill throughout all the interactions I had the fortune to make, and it helped tremendously to put pieces together, understand where the project was at all times, and essentially at some points also contribute meaningfully.

Speaking from all of us three task leads, we encourage you to become an Omdena collaborator and to bring your soft skills to the table.  We all have one or two soft skills at least that we excel at.  Leverage those soft skills in Omdena, commit yourself, and make it an enriching experience.  You do not have to know everything, show up, learn and contribute in your own unique way.  

Lastly, we encourage you, even more, to take on the role of task lead, whenever possible, in the bottom-approach culture in Omdena. Being in a task lead role will certainly push you to grow above and beyond, practice leadership, and learn about the responsibility of leading others.

Tagged: CareerCareer TipsOmdena

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