Mandlenkosi Sibanda (Mandla) is a graduate of Data Science for All / Empowerment who later became a Certified Anaplan Model Builder through our Anaplan for All training program.  In this guest blog post he shares his experience coming into the program, and what he gained from it. 

We're pleased to share his story.

Note, however, that since this piece was originally published on the Correlation One blog, the Anaplan for All program has grown and changed considerably.

To learn more about it today—including how to apply, please visit the official Anaplan for All page.


Data Science for All / Empowerment graduate: Mandlenkosi Sibanda (Mandla)

In April 2020, I was about to graduate and had a data analytics job waiting for me. However, like many people during the pandemic, I lost that opportunity. So I decided that, instead, I would turn the situation into an opportunity to improve my skill-set and learn new tools that could boost my employability. 

Self-learning can be challenging. The lack of motivation and accountability can deter you from finishing what you started. I signed up for the DS4A Empowerment program in October 2020, unsure of what to expect or how invested I would become. To my surprise, the Saturday lessons were very engaging, and the group project kept me accountable to my classmates, teaching assistants, and mentors. I found the structure to be very effective, and soon learned about another Correlation One program, Anaplan for All. 

I have taken tutorials on a few different tools and technologies, and have observed a few challenges for course developers. Course developers need to teach all of their tool's features and functions, but also show its application in the real world by using case studies. The challenge then becomes striking a balance between these two. 

Anaplan at a glance

If you use one case study, you may not show all the tool’s functions, and if you use too many, you could confuse the learners. How then do you find the one perfect balance that allows you to demonstrate all the features without exaggerating how it would have been used in a real business context? Anaplan Learning does an incredible job in using one extensive and connected case study, making it easier to learn the tool, while providing real-world context throughout.

Although I have some experience with learning new tools, I believe that my college education and professional experience made it easier for me to learn Anaplan model building.

Anaplan is great for anyone with experience in business and operations

I graduated college with a minor in business. I once interned at a manufacturing company where I observed everything from supply chain channels, inventory planning, distribution, and financial planning and analysis. This made it easier for me to understand the case study and see how Anaplan could solve the business problems, some of which I had seen in my internship.

I would recommend the program primarily to individuals who have some experience in business or operations. Anyone can do well in the course, but those with some operations background will have an easier time understanding how Anaplan is applied in practice.

Anaplan is great for anyone with UX and dashboard designs experience

Anaplan has a New UX that adds the ability to create interactive dashboards. As a Microsoft Certified Power BI data associate, I have vast experience creating dashboards. My undergraduate capstone project was also on user experience, the art and science of data visualization, and how to create insightful dashboards. So again, my past experiences made it easy for me to go through the User Experience modules in the Anaplan training.

Anaplan functions are easier to understand for someone with experience working with Excel formulas

As a heavy Power BI user, I use a lot of Data Analysis Expressions (DAX). DAX is a library of functions and operators used to build formulas and expressions in Power BI and Excel. Anaplan formulas use a similar structure, making it relatively more manageable for me to understand and write new formulae. 

Can you learn Anaplan without a background similar to mine? Absolutely! I believe that my experience only made it relatively faster for me to pick up the material compared to someone shifting from a completely different and unrelated career path. 

Anaplan and my career plans

As part of the Anaplan for All program, I was assigned a mentor who has been helping me to understand the Anaplan ecosystem and find job opportunities. She has reviewed my resume, connected me with Anaplan employees and partners who are all eager to help me land a great job. 

I also have an opportunity to attend Anaplan partner's info sessions hosted by Correlation One to learn more about the Anaplan tool use cases and explore jobs they are currently hiring for, and to connect directly with Anaplan’s partners and customers for interviews. My goal, for now, is to get a job in the Anaplan ecosystem where I can use my newly acquired Anaplan model building skills, my past business and data analytics experience to build models and dashboards for multiple use cases. 

Mandlenkosi Sibanda (Mandla) is a Certified Anaplan Model Builder and experienced data analyst with a demonstrated ability to build data-intensive automated applications and create insightful data visualizations and business dashboards. He is proficient in modeling and analyzing large datasets to increase efficiency and accuracy while delivering insights and implementing actionable solutions to complex business problems. Mandla is currently looking to use his skills to build models and create user-friendly dashboards for an innovative and data-driven company.