Deep Dive Norway: Telenor experts gather in Trondheim for a Deep Learning journey

They came from Pakistan, Malaysia and Sweden, and they all had one thing in common: a deep curiosity for Deep Learning.

Written: Sep 2019

Reading Time: 3 minutes

It will come as no surprise that as technology progresses, the skills needed to exploit its potential change just as fast. In order to keep pace with this ever-changing landscape, Telenor has pinpointed several critical competencies seen as crucial in successfully serving changing customer needs.

But rather than just passively acknowledging the required skills, Telenor has extended 40 hours of work-time learning to all employees per year. While the majority of Telenor learners are sourcing their courses from the digital learning portal, Campus, others are joining colleagues at boot camps for more offline learning experiences.

Recently, a group of experts-in-training from across Telenor Group’s global footprint joined scientists from Telenor’s research arm in Norway’s self-styled Silicon Valley, Trondheim, for a deep dive into Deep Learning. A milestone in their one-year course, the gathering saw the group apply real data to solving existing challenges.

Like coming home

For one of the travelling, Telenor Sweden’s Lars Adolfsson, being back in the cut and thrust of data science was more than an opportunity to upskill: it was a sort of homecoming.

“I have a PhD in Astronomy from the US but never really worked in that area. I have had a long career in telecom working in networks, product development, product management, business management and twice tried the path of being a leader. For the last couple of years, I have been a Data Scientist and it’s like coming home.”

Unlike Lars, Sana never really ‘left’ data science. With a masters in the subject, she has worked in the field for 14 years now, and currently heads the Data Science team at Telenor Pakistan from their headquarters in Islamabad.

“The data science domain is changing rapidly,” Sana notes, “and though the concepts are the same new tools and techniques come in every day. With big data, image processing and speech recognition, AI has placed itself at the centre of the digital world.”

The automation autodidact

If Lars and Sana represent the sort of professional profiles you would expect to be upskilling on the finer details of Data Analytics and Deep learning, Asif’s route to the field was a little more circuitous.

“I originally have a Business Administration degree with a major in Marketing from the University of Dhaka,” he tells us. “Since 2004 I’ve worked with market research and saw huge potential in gaining more understanding of our customers’ behavior. So I started learning by myself – coding, big data analytics and infrastructure, machine learning and AI. Essentially I’m a self-taught data scientist and now heading the Data Science Team in Digi”.

As Asif’s story proves, AI, analytics and data are not just for individuals with an express background in the subject, something he is very keen to impress on those with an interest or maybe considering a career in the field.

“It is all about consistency and commitment. Nothing cannot be so difficult that humans cannot do or understand it. It’s the same advice for people running a marathon: don’t think about other runners. Everyone has their own goal to achieve, run your own race at your own pace.”

Learning in Telenor:

  • Telenor has identified 7 critical competences, Telenor Academy provides 38 expert journeys for upskilling and reskilling
  • 50% of participant of expert journeys report that they use their new skills daily or weekly. And nearly 40% report to have progressed to more complex roles or been given a strategic project to apply their new skills.
  • Goal of having 1200 employees go through an expert journeys in 2019
  • Expert journeys require considerable effort and time. There are two different journeys: intermediate journeys which takes about 3 to 4 months and advanced that takes from 10 to 12 months.
  • All 20 000 employees are encouraged to spend 40 hours pr year during work hours
  • Have 7 suppliers of online courses, where biggest are LinkedIn Learning, Coursera and Udacity.