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BBVA and the University collaborate to train employees and promote research in data science


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From left to right, Iciar Astiasarán, Ricardo Martín, Carlos Casas and Jesús López Fidalgo, during the collaboration formalised in a telematic event. PHOTO: Manuel Castells
14/07/20 11:07

BBVA and the University of Navarra will collaborate to train their employees and promote research in data science. This agreement will allow BBVA professionals to take an official master's degree in big data, obtain recognition as a data scientist or complete an industrial doctorate in data science. In addition, the agreement will enable students at the University of Navarra to carry out research work with BBVA and even join the bank at a later date.

The collaboration between the two institutions was formalised at a telematic event attended by the Vice President for Research, Icíar Astiasarán, and the Director of the Institute of Data Science and Artificial Intelligence, Jesús López Fidalgo, on behalf of the University of Navarra, and Carlos Casas, Head of Talent and Culture, and Ricardo Martín, Head of Data, on behalf of BBVA.

University-business collaboration

This alliance, which opens up several avenues of research between the two institutions in the field of advanced data analytics and artificial intelligence, is a major step forward in the collaboration between university and business. "This agreement marks a different way of understanding training and research with the university, creating a synergy that will allow our data scientists to enter the academic world and university teams to enter the business world. The University of Navarra is a strategic partner for BBVA, with which we are going to create a professional certification and a real pool of talent," said Carlos Casas, Head of Talent and Culture at BBVA.

For his part, the director of the Institute of Data Science and Artificial Intelligence of the University of Navarra, Jesús López Fidalgo, stressed the need to have professionals trained in this field, which will mark competitiveness in all sectors: "The co-direction of industrial doctorates and the creation of the joint professional certification of data scientist will constitute a seal of quality in the curriculum of professionals in this field. Furthermore, it is important to have training that allows data scientists to develop a technically excellent role with the appropriate ethical values", stressed Fidalgo, who believes it is essential to put all these tools at the service of the defence of people's privacy and intimacy.

A vision that coincides with that of BBVA, which has made data a strategic priority, which it is now reinforcing with this new agreement. "Data is essential to our understanding of financial services. We want to be able to make the most of these technologies to be a more efficient bank and offer personalised advice to our customers so that they can make the right decisions to fulfil their dreams and goals in life," said Ricardo Martín Manjón, BBVA's Global Head of Data.

The agreement between BBVA and the University of Navarra focuses mainly on three lines of collaboration:

Certification for data scientists: This certification, issued by the University of Navarra and BBVA with global recognition, will be awarded to BBVA professionals who complete the "Data Scientist Fundamentals" training, included in the BBVA Campus training offer and also carry out at least 400 hours of work on the bank's Big Data platform. The work will be supervised by academics from various university centres with proven experience in advanced data analytics.

University Master's Degree in Big Data ScienceBBVA will have its own group within the master's degree that the University of Navarra offers in Madrid for BBVA employees, with 1,500 hours of theory and practical work for students. In addition, students of the master's degree at the University of Navarra will be able to carry out their internships or their master's thesis at BBVA.

Industrial doctorates: BBVA data scientists will be offered the possibility of completing their doctoral thesis in an industrial format (applied to a practical case of a company), which will be co-directed by the University and BBVA in a doctoral programme at the University of Navarra. Collaboration in research and the publication of scientific papers and participation in international conferences will also be facilitated.

BBVA will also take advantage of this close relationship with the University of Navarra to attract talent among its students, who will have access to a job pool to join the bank's project. Meanwhile, the group's data scientists who are interested in the academic field will be able to give classes or carry out other teaching activities at the University of Navarra.

The road travelled

The agreement is part of BBVA's global strategy to improve its data science capabilities and increase its teams of scientists and specialists. Over the years, BBVA has tried to boost this type of talent through various initiatives, both internal training and recruitment of new profiles.

To train BBVA employees, the Group has carried out projects such as Transcendence, an internal plan to train data scientists, specialists and advanced analysts, which has already trained 1,400 professionals throughout the organisation. It has also promoted recruitment initiatives such as the Young Data Professionals programme, designed to recruit and train the best young talent specialising in advanced analytics.

To promote collaborative work among the group's professionals dedicated to data analytics, the 'Space Career' has also been created, where in the last year alone the community has carried out more than 50 activities to share knowledge globally. From 2018 to the present, BBVA has trained 677 data scientists, 676 data specialists, and has 48,356 employees who have completed some Data training. The offer provided by Campus BBVA, the Group's training model, has become one of its main axes for attracting and retaining talent.

Institute of the University of Navarra

At the beginning of 2020, the University of Navarra has launched the Data Science and Artificial Intelligence Institute (DATAI), whose aim is to enhance the University's potential in this field. The Institute seeks to carry out quality research with transfer to society and the business sector, as well as to provide and advise on training. In particular, in the 2017-18 and 2018-19 academic years, a programme of specialists in Big Data was taught, which in the 2019-20 academic year has become an official master's degree that takes place entirely at the postgraduate headquarters in Madrid.

DATAI is attached to the School of Engineering and has members from many centres of the University of Navarra.

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