February 10th, 2021 · 8 minute read

Stop Looking Now - Top 10 Data Science Leaders you Need to Follow Now

Updated: February 10th, 2021

Data Science Influencer

The Top 10 Influencers in Data Science

Data science is constantly evolving. Data science professionals, as well as data science enthusiasts need to find ways to keep up-to-date on the latest trends in the field. In this rapidly changing technical landscape, there are a number of outstanding professionals who are at the forefront of these developments.

Here is a list of the ten most prominent data scientists who are highly regarded in the field.


Kirk Borne

While most of the world has only recently become aware of the field of data science, Kirk Borne was recognized as a worldwide expert in data science way back in 2013.

Currently the Principal Data Scientist & Data Science Fellow, and Executive Advisor at Booz Allen Hamilton, Kirk Borne is also counted as a top artificial intelligence influencer.

He was professor of astrophysics and computational science at George Mason University (GMU) for 12 years and worked as an astrophysicist at NASA. After 9/11 he was called upon to advise the President on the role of data mining to detect a possible terrorist attack.

He is in high demand as a keynote speaker where he shares his expertise and insights in many disciplines including, machine learning, data mining, data analytics, big data, computational science, astroinformatics, and more.

Follow Kirk Borne on his blog, Rocket-Powered Data Science.


Ronald van Loon

Ronald van Loon is CEO and Principal Analyst at Intelligent People. He is recognized as a top global influencer in data science, big data, analytics, IoT, and Business Intelligence.

Van Loon is passionate about sharing his knowledge. He is a highly sought-after speaker and regularly contributes articles on data and related fields for highly regarded publications like DataFloq, Dataconomy, Data Science Central, and others. He’s an advisory board member for the online training provider, Simplilearn, in the fields of big data and analytics.

On LinkedIn, he runs one of the most valuable online big data groups: The Awesome Ways Big Data Is Used to Improve Our World.

With more than 48.6K LinkedIn followers and more than 237.7K followers on Twitter, van Loon is one of the most well-known data science leaders in the world.


Merv Adrian

Merv Adrian has been the Vice President at Gartner for the past ten years. Just that fact should tell you that he has earned his stripes in technology.

Starting his career as a systems builder in the 1980s, Merv subsequently worked as the editor of a technical journal, an industry analyst, senior director of strategic marketing for Sybase, Vice President for Giga Information Group, and Senior Vice President at Forrester Research, before he founded IT Marketing in 2009.

That is a long history in IT that has seen him become an expert in Database Management Systems (DBMS), big data, and NoSQL product landscapes and opportunities.

Industry leaders who need to keep up-to-date on Apache Hadoop stack, leading operational DBMS vendors, NoSQL, data management, and data security make it a point never to miss his blog at Gartner.


Carla Gentry

Carla Gentry is a mathematician and economist that carries the label of data nerd with pride.

She started her career in analytics in 1998 and has in the two decades since worked with prominent Fortune 100 and 500 companies, including Discover Financial Services, J&J, Hershey, Kraft, Kellogg’s, SCJ, McNeil, and Firestone to share her insights and help them make better-informed business decisions.

She can take huge complicated databases and use her skills in data analysis, customer segmentation, statistical analysis, and product analysis to come up with intelligence that helps companies make sense of complicated and overwhelming data.

Gentry is highly regarded by her peers. She has been acknowledged as one of the 10 Women in AI and Data Science and was listed as one of the Artificial Intelligence and Big Data Influencers of 2019, among other acknowledgments.

It’s probably safe to call Gentry a social media influencer as well. She is prolific in her engagement with thousands of followers on multiple social media platforms.


Vincent Granville

Vincent Granville is a Co-Founder of and Executive Data Scientist at Data Science Central, an online resource for Big Data practitioners, acquired by TechTarget in 2020.

He is a former post-doctorate of Cambridge University and the National Institute of Statistical Sciences. His more than 20 years’ experience span different industries including the internet, online advertising, and finance.

He is an expert in predictive modelling, digital and business analytics, scoring technology, fraud detection, and web traffic optimization. He is a mathematician and statistician of note and has published 40 papers in statistical journals. He authored a Wiley book on data science and owns various patents.

Granville is regarded as a data science pioneer and has thousands of followers on LinkedIn and Twitter.


Cindi Howson

Cindi Howson is a Business intelligence (BI) and data and analytics expert. She is Chief Data Strategy Officer at ThoughtSpot, a business intelligence platform that helps companies to explore, analyze, and share real-time business analytics data.

Howson has more than 20 years of experience in advising organizations on the best BI tools and leveraging data to achieve and set business goals.

She previously served as Vice President in Data and Analytics at Gartner. Prior to this, she founded BI Scorecard, a resource for in-depth product reviews based on exclusive hands-on testing. She ran the company for 12 years.

Howson has written several books on business intelligence, including “Successful Business Intelligence: Unlock the Value of BI & Big Data”, which has been hailed as a leading book on business intelligence.

She is a faculty member of The Data Warehousing Institute (TDWI) and one of the experts writing for Information Week.

Cindi Howson is recognized as a top influencer in analytics and business intelligence.


Doug Laney

Doug Laney is famed in the world of data and analytics for at least two reasons: coining the "3Vs" of volume, velocity, and variety, commonly used to describe Big Data twenty years ago, and originating the field of Infonomics. He also wrote the book "Infonomics: Monetizing, Managing and Measuring Information as a Competitive Advantage". Actually, he has a list of published work as long as your arm and a list of honors and awards to go with that.

Currently, he works as the data & analytics strategy innovation fellow at the consultancy, West Monroe.

He is a former Vice President and Distinguished Analyst with Gartner's Chief Data Officer (CDO) research and advisory practice and a three-time recipient of Gartner's annual Thought Leadership Award.

Laney is acknowledged as an authority on data and analytics strategy and regarded as one of the top global influencers on these topics. He is a visiting professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and an expert contributor for Forbes.


Bernard Marr

Bernard Marr is in a league of his own. He went on his own back in 2006 to start Bernard Marr & Co. Since then, he has become a world-renown expert in strategy, business performance, digital transformation, and the intelligent use of data in business.

He has consulted with and advised governments and many of the world’s leading organizations including Accenture, Astra Zeneca, Bank of England, Barclays, BP, Shell, SAP, Cisco, DHL, Fujitsu, Gartner, HSBC, IBM, NATO, and many more.

Marr is a major force on social media with more than 1.46m followers on LinkedIn, more than 170K fans on Facebook, more than 130k Twitter followers, more than 20k Instagram followers, in addition to over 18k subscribers on YouTube.

LinkedIn has ranked him as one of the top 5 business influencers of the world.


Gregory Piatetsky

Gregory Piatetsky is the President of KDnuggets, a leading website AI, Analytics, Big Data, Data Mining, Data Science, and Machine Learning. He is the Co-founder of the KDD (Knowledge Discovery and Data Mining) conferences and the Co-founder of ACM SIGKDD, an association for knowledge discovery and data mining.

He is an expert in Business Analytics, Data Mining, and Data Science and a top influencer in these fields. He was no. 1 on LinkedIn Top Voices in 2018 on Data Science and Analytics.

He is the author of more than 60 publications and has edited several books on data mining and knowledge discovery.

He has 183.6K followers on Twitter and 350.5K followers on LinkedIn.


Lillian Pierson

Lillian Pierson is CEO of Data-Mania, which works to turn data professionals into world-class leaders & entrepreneurs. So far, she’s trained more than 1 million workers on the topics of AI and data science.

Pierson has authored 4 data books with Wiley & Sons Publishers, including Data Science for Dummies and Managing Big Data Workflows for Dummies. She has developed five data courses with LinkedIn Learning.

Her clients include global organizations like the United Nations and National Geographic, Ericsson, Dell, Intel, the US Navy, Saudi Aramco, and many more.

Pierson has been recognized as one of the top 20 Big Data Influencers of 2021 by Analytics Insight. She has a great following on social media: 148.5K on Twitter and 382.6K on LinkedIn.


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