It goes without saying that data scientists must have advanced technical and analytical capabilities. But these aren’t the only skills required to be successful. Because artificial intelligence (AI) deals with problems people struggle with in the real world, numerous soft skills are also critical to help data scientists gain exposure to new ideas, insights, and ways of thinking. Soft skills also play an important role in helping data scientists communicate their results enterprise-wide and, in turn, accelerate the program’s benefits.

With that in mind, read on for some must-have soft skills to nurture your data science team.


If you want to understand the business problem and be able to explain the data and communicate the story behind it, the ability to listen and truly consider each stakeholder’s viewpoint is critical. Possessing good communication skills will also help data scientists absorb feedback in order to fine-tune algorithms and ensure they are solving the right problem.


Empathy is critical to seeing problems from another person’s perspective. With an empathetic approach, data scientists can evaluate questions such as: 

  • “What are the pain points of various business units?” 
  • “How will the potential solution affect them?” 
  • “Are there any unexpected consequences they may encounter?” 

Considering these and other questions in advance increases the likelihood of a project’s success and can help drive immediate adoption of the new solution or approach.


Data scientists will be expected to work closely with their peers as well as software engineers, project managers, and other roles involved in the project. As such, the ability to work well with others, cooperate, and collaborate are important skills to focus on.


We’ve examined the challenges of algorithmic bias in a previous APEX of Innovation post. In order to avoid this pitfall, it’s crucial that data scientists incorporate diversity into every algorithm they train. One of the best ways to do this is to remain open-minded and continually solicit input from people with diverse backgrounds.

A business mindset

The enterprise is becoming increasingly data driven, and it follows that data scientists should operate as part of the business team. Viewing data problems through the business lens ensures that results are optimized to drive positive business outcomes, help companies maintain a competitive advantage, and accelerate data-driven insights.

For more on these soft skills and how to nurture them within your organization, take a look at this Forbes article.