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BBVA and Universidad de Navarra work together to train their employees and support data science research

This partnership deal will let BBVA employees take an official master’s degree in Big Data, gain recognition as data scientists or achieve an industrial doctorate in data science. In addition, the agreement will enable students at Universidad de Navarra to carry out research alongside BBVA and even join the bank later on.

The partnership was formally agreed today at an online event where Universidad de Navarra was represented by the Vice-Rector for Research, Icíar Astiasarán, and the Director of the Institute of Data Science and Artificial Intelligence, Jesús López Fidalgo; BBVA was represented by Carlos Casas, head of Talent and Culture, and Ricardo Martín, head of Data.

The alliance, which opens up several avenues of research between the two institutions in the field of advanced data analysis and artificial intelligence, is a stride forward in cooperation between academia and business. “The deal reflects a different way of understanding training and research with the university, creating a synergy that will enable our data scientists to enter the academic world, and academics and researchers to enter the business world. Universidad de 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.

The director of the Institute of Data Science and Artificial Intelligence of Universidad de Navarra, Jesús López Fidalgo, highlighted the need to have professionals trained in this area, which will shape competitiveness in all sectors: “Co-supervision of industrial doctorates and creation of a joint professional certification of data scientists will constitute a seal of quality in the curriculum of professionals in this field. It is also crucial to provide training that allows data scientists to play a technically outstanding role with the appropriate ethical values,” said Fidalgo, who believes it is essential to put all these tools at the service of defending people’s privacy and intimacy.

Icíar Astiasarán, Vice-Rector for Research at the University of Navarra and Jesús López Fidalgo, Director of the Institute of Data Science and Artificial Intelligence, during the signing of the agreement. On the screen, BBVA representatives: Ricardo Martín, Global Head of Data and Carlos Casas, Global Head of Talent and Culture.

This vision is shared by BBVA, which has made data science a strategic priority, now reinforced by this new partnership. “Data is essential to our understanding of financial services. We want to be able to harness the full potential of these technologies to become a more effective bank and offer our customers personalized advice so they can make the best decisions to fulfill their dreams and life goals,” said Ricardo Martín Manjón, BBVA’s Global Head of Data.

The partnership between BBVA and Universidad de Navarra focuses mainly on three lines of work:

  • Data scientist certification: This certificate, issued by Universidad de Navarra and BBVA and carrying global recognition, will be awarded to BBVA employees who complete the “Data Scientist Fundamentals” course within the BBVA Campus training offer and complete at least 400 hours of work on the bank’s Big Data platform. Work will be supervised by academics from various university departments who have proven experience in advanced data analysis.
  • Master’s degree in Big Data Science: BBVA will have its own group within the master’s programme that Universidad de Navarra offers in Madrid for BBVA employees, with a teaching/learning load of 1,500 hours of theory and practice. In addition, students taking the Universidad de Navarra master’s degree program will be able to do internships or dissertations within BBVA.
  • Industrial doctorates: BBVA data scientists will be able to write their doctoral thesis in the industrial format (a company case study) and the thesis will be co-supervised by the University and BBVA in a doctoral program at Universidad de Navarra. The initiative will also support collaboration in research, publication of scientific papers, and attendance at international congresses.

BBVA will leverage this close relationship with Universidad de Navarra to attract talent among its students, who will have access to a job pool specific to the bank. On the other hand, data scientists of the group who have an interest in the academic field may teach or carry out other academic activities at Universidad de Navarra.