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Exclusive - Peter Bruce of Statistics.com Talks Analytics and Education

Peter Bruce is the founder and President of The Institute for Statistics Education at Statistics.com. The Institute specializes in introductory and graduate level online education in statistics, predictive modeling and quantitative analytics. icrunchdata news recently sat down with Peter to discuss his background, his career evolution and how he founded The Institute for Statistics Education providing training and certifications in Data Science and Statistics.

Peter, you have degrees in Russian from Princeton and Harvard, an MBA from the University of Maryland and began your career as a Foreign Service Officer for the U.S. Department of State.

How did your experience in those areas prepare you for founding Statistics.com and having a career in statistics?

Most of the people who deploy statistical and analytical models are not PhD mathematicians or statisticians.  They have a need and an expertise in some specific area -- whether they are a programmer, a scientific researcher, an operations researcher, or whatever.  Since I was not educated as a hard-core math quant, I feel considerable affinity for and sympathy with these folks, and have been driven to make sure that the statistics that we teach are grounded in common sense and in practical applications.

How many courses and certificates does the Institute offer today and are there plans to offer additional certificates?

We have just over 100 courses and 4 certificate programs.  We'll stay at 4 certificate programs for now, covering data science and research statistics, but we are adding some courses on using and writing API's, econometrics, and an applied predictive analytics capstone project.

Do you consider yourself a Statistician, a Data Scientist or something else?

More of a teacher in both these areas.

In what countries outside of the US do you see rapid growth in terms of companies and people embracing data science and statistics?

South and Southeast Asia - the outsourcing of IT that happened years ago is now shifting over to analytics.

The Institute for Statistics Education at Statistics.com is headquartered in Arlington, VA. If I was in Arlington and only had four hours to explore the city, where should I eat and what else should I do?

I'd do the Arlington extension of the traditional DC things - Arlington Cemetery, Iwo Jima, the Robert E. Lee mansion that overlooks the cemetery and DC.   As for eating, take the Orange or Silver Line to Clarendon and pop in almost any of the cafes and restaurants within a 5 minute walk (there are dozens).

What is your favorite business book that you have that you reference or think about more than any other?

This is going to sound sacrilegious, but I don't read business books.  This is because I think the key elements of business success are pretty well-documented and don't need books:  luck, leadership, organizational skills, and analytical ability.  Most of what gets written in business books beyond that is the equivalent of fitting the noise in a predictive model.  Or else padding. Right now I'm in the middle of "Going Clear," Lawrence Wright's expose of Scientology.  Though I suppose that's a business book, in a way.

If you were ever to start a business completely outside of statistics and technology, what would it be?

I'd love to have a transportation analytics/logistics firm.  I know that's not "completely outside" of statistics and technology, but it would involve planes and trains.

What country have you not visited but really hoping to get there someday?

Oman.  I want to see the Empty Quarter. It's mostly in Saudi Arabia, but you can't get there that way.

Who are two business leaders that you would like to meet but haven’t yet?

Satya Nadella - saving Microsoft would make a great story.  Also Donald Trump - he embodies the highest form of entertainment - farce.  I think it was Oscar Wilde who said that the only unpardonable sin was to be boring.

What’s the one thing outside of work that you wish you had more time to do?

Travel. Going to the Empty Quarter will be time-consuming.  'll need a camel.

Thanks Peter for taking the time to speak with us today. Check out The Institute for Statistics Education and choose from over 100 courses to expand your statistical and analytics skill sets in Predictive Analytics, Data Science and Statistics.

Article published by Todd Nevins
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