What it does: Analytics
Staff stats: Around 12,500 globally
The good bits: Too many to choose from
The not so good bits: There don’t appear to be any. (Seriously.)
Hiring grads with degrees in: Engineering, Maths, IT & Computer Sciences; Finance, Accounting, Economics & Business Administration; Humanities, Arts & Social Sciences
Back in the mid-1960s – long before university-industry incubators or big data were all the rage – the US Department of Agriculture wanted to feed the vast amounts of data it possessed into one of the computerised statistics programs cutting-edge universities were starting to develop.
A consortium of universities headed up North Carolina State University got the gig. They did such a bang-up job that soon other government departments as well as private companies, particularly in data-rich industries such as banking, insurance and pharmaceuticals, were queuing up for the useful insights the university statisticians – or, more precisely, their computer programs – could provide.
Jim Goodnight, Jim Barr, Jane Helwig and John Sall were four North Carolina State University academics who’d played a crucial role in developing the software, known as Statistical Analysis System (SAS). In 1976, they formed a private company, SAS Institute Inc, “devoted to the maintenance and further development of SAS”. Dr Goodnight took the CEO role and continues to lead the company today.
With what’s now known as the digital age in its infancy, the conditions were ripe for SAS to grow phenomenally fast. That’s essentially what it has done ever since.
SAS now has four decades of commercial experience helping its clients turn data into knowledge; feeding figures into its acclaimed business analytics software to provide organisations with a “fresh perspective” on their activities. One that allows them to identify what does and doesn’t work and discern possible business opportunities.
Still headquartered in a smallish North Carolina town, the company is now a tech-industry giant with customers in 149 countries. Its “innovative analytics, business intelligence and data management software and services… [help] customers at more than 80,000 sites make better decisions faster”.
'We’re committed to building the next generation of data-savvy professionals…. Anyone who wants a good-paying, recession-proof skill set should consider a career in analytics.'
— Jim Goodnight, CEO of SAS
Curious. Passionate. Authentic. Accountable. The collective power of our values influences everything we do. From the software that we create to the conversations we share, there is a strong connection between analytics and advocacy. We imagine a better world through innovation. Empower curiosity through educational outreach. Encourage the use of data for good. Embrace uniqueness through diversity. Give back through philanthropy. And collaborate with businesses to promote economic, social and environmental change.
A pioneer in workplace culture for more than 40 years, SAS has set the standard by fostering an environment that helps employees balance their careers and personal lives. SAS’s exceptional corporate culture embraced diversity (or at least diversity-generating employment practices) long before it became fashionable. Unusually for a tech business, women make up almost half of all SAS’s workforce and over 40 per cent of its leaders. The Women’s Initiative Network (WIN) is a strong community of SAS employees who empower, encourage and inspire women to pursue excellence in their careers and fulfilment in their personal lives. Members act as ambassadors for SAS and STEM careers, sharing time and expertise to develop leadership capabilities among female employees, expand professional networks, showcase thought leaders and attract women to careers in science and technology.
'Because we eliminate unnecessary distractions and help relieve everyday stress, our employees are happier, healthier and proud of the difference their work makes.'
— Jim Goodnight, CEO of SAS
At SAS “caring for our people – and our planet – has been paramount” since the early days. The company has long sought to reduce its environmental footprint through green-building, water-conservation, waste-management and pollution-mitigation initiatives.
SAS is proud to be part of the Data for Good movement, which encourages using data in meaningful ways to solve humanitarian issues around poverty, health, human rights, education and the environment. From preventing life-threatening illnesses to protecting endangered species to rebuilding after natural disasters, organizations across the globe are harnessing data to make a difference. Applying data for social good has led to new and creative ways to address global issues, and they have gathered a few of these stories here. SAS also understands that education gives each new generation the power to change what’s possible. Around the world, SAS supports education initiatives that promote learning for all and build a global community of innovators. SAS also collaborates with universities to address the “analytics skill gap”. As a result, university and college students across the globe can access SAS software and training options that are either low cost or free.
Early Career Programs
Given the incredible conditions it offers staff, SAS has no shortage of job applicants. To be in the running, you’ll probably need a background in STEM, though those from disciplines such as accounting and business will also be considered. You’ll definitely need to be passionate, tenacious and resourceful and possess solid communication skills. Ideally, you’ll also be tech and data-savvy and have some experience using programming languages and modelling tools, as well as analysing data.
SAS Australia offers 3 entry-level programs which will enable you to join SAS and pursue a career in either Customer Advisory, Sales or Professional Services. They are the SAS Customer Advisory Academy, the SAS Sales Academy and the SAS Technical Enablement Academy.
Each Academy starts with an intensive training program based in the SAS head office in North Carolina, America. The academy training covers extensive and in-depth technical knowledge of SAS Software and Solutions as well as critical business skills such as advising organisations how to solving data challenges or how to manage a territory of accounts and engaging with technical and business executives. On completion, you will return to the team in SAS Australia and have structured mentoring in your role to best enable your future success.
Workforce Connection Program
For over a decade SAS has been committed to helping university students with SAS skills and knowledge, gain work experience with SAS customers. Kick start your career in analytics and visit www.sas.com/au/wfc.
With an industry skills gap looming, and an estimated 85% of Fortune 500 organisations unable to effectively exploit big data, now is the perfect time to supplement your SAS skills with hands-on work experience within a SAS customer. If you don't have any SAS skills or you are not enrolled in a SAS - sponsored University course, don't worry, we have FREE online training and Certification that you can complete yourself. Visit www.sas.com/students.
Possibly because it was launched and has continued to be run by idealistic academics rather than hard-nosed businesspeople, SAS is world-renowned for its extensive and lavish benefits. (Google modelled itself on SAS when creating its famous menu of workplace perks.)
While conditions vary between countries, SAS staff typically receive competitive salaries; discounted health insurance; access to onsite fitness options, subsidized health, salary sacrifice car leasing options, affordable or subsidized meals at onsite cafeterias and a comprehensive range of wellness programs. Dress for your day enables staff to determine appropriate levels of dress. Staff are also offered generous leave entitlements and encouraged to maintain a work-life balance.
With the Internet of Things now taking off, and everything from toasters to home-security systems now generating vast oceans of data, it’s entirely possible SAS could grow even faster over the next four decades than it has over the past four.
By this point, you’ll no doubt be unsurprised to learn SAS leads the pack when it comes to providing opportunities for staff to “continually evolve [their] skill sets”. Such opportunities include “emerging leadership programs, tuition programs [and] technical training”.
In short, if you manage to get into one of SAS’s entry-level programs, your career prospects are excellent.
The vibe of the place
Economic commentator Richard Florida has expressed amazement at SAS’s “holistic integration of work and play, art and science, and business and life”. The company has topped ‘Best Places to Work’ surveys for decades. It has a turnover rate that is a fraction of the industry average. It’s the ability to achieve consistently high growth and generate enormous profits while pampering its employees in a manner reminiscent of a Scandinavian welfare state is studied at business schools around the world.
In short, if you’re not happy and engaged after getting a job at SAS, you most likely need to see a psychologist rather than a recruitment consultant.