Neville Fernandes (USA) – Santa Clara University, Leavey School of Business


Why coding is a fundamental skill in businesses today

Even if “developer” isn’t in your job title, Neville emphasizes the importance of learning how to code. With AI and other advanced technologies predicted to result in millions of lost jobs by 2030, it’s not hard to see why.

“[Coding] is the number one skill required if you want to move into business now, even if you are looking to [build] a career as a management consultant or an entrepreneur – just because so many products are now driven by access to technology,” Neville explains. (08:22)

Neville observed his own managers and saw that even if coding was not a part of their day-to-day work, they understood the basics, which allowed them to succeed in their companies.

“If you don’t have [coding skills], you still have to go out and develop those skills,” he says. “Right now in business – not just business analytics, but in other areas of business – understanding databases, how they are managed, the relationships between different objects in a database… [Those are] very basic skills required to succeed in business in general.” (12:49)

Neville admits that his coding skills weren’t exactly up-to-par when he started his Master’s in Business Analytics at Santa Clara University. “That was part of the big learning curve – and a sharp curve at that,” he tells us. “I think that might be one of the biggest impediments when somebody tries to consider a career in business analytics or data science is like, ‘Oh wow, I have to do all this coding now.’ I know, certainly, I felt that, which is what held me back for a long time.” (15:10)

What better place to build your coding skills than Silicon Valley?

Located in the heart of Silicon Valley, Santa Clara University “knows where its strengths lie,” according to Neville. “I really wanted to be in an environment where the word ‘startup’ came to existence. So for me, personally, it’s been a great experience and a great opportunity to pursue this degree at Santa Clara University.” (19:59)

With strong ties to the community, Santa Clara makes it outrageously easy for its students to meet other people in the valley, whether it’s entrepreneurs, VCs, or coders who can help you with your own startup. It’s “that proximity and access to networking to your fellow professionals [that is] one of the strengths of Santa Clara University that I was able to leverage,” Neville states. (22:06)

Don’t forget about soft skills

While coding is an important hard skill, Neville reminds students that soft skills are just as important. According to LinkedIn, the top five in-demand soft skills in 2020 were creativity, persuasion, collaboration, adaptability, and emotional intelligence.

In Neville’s experience, attending social events and doing things like volunteering “forces you to talk to people and understand how to solve problems on the spot, especially in event management. And that’s the kind of education that you can get pretty much nowhere else,” he says. (10:47)

“From an engineering and research mindset, we spend so much time designing experiments, making sure that we have all the equipment and other resources in place to go and conduct experiments, that we do not understand that in the business world, it’s quite different,” Neville explains. “You definitely get a sense of that when you go out there and interact with people socially.” (12:19)