Sharpening your Advanced SAS Skills: Interview with Sunil Gupta

June 21, 2016

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Sunil is an Associate Director of Statistical Programming at Cytel and has over twenty-five years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry.  He is also an international speaker and best-selling SAS author.  Most recently, Sunil contributes his knowledge as a CDISC Oncology ADaM reviewer and has taught his CDISC online classes with the University of California at San Diego.  Sunil has MS in Bioengineering from Clemson University and a BS in Applied Mathematics from the College of Charleston.
Recently, Sunil published a book, 'Sharpening your Advanced SAS Skills’ a follow up to his popular and well respected ‘ Sharpening your SAS Skills’. In this blog we find out more and offer blog readers the chance to win a copy of the new book!

We asked Gupta how he came to venture into the world of publishing. He explained that he created the first book ‘Sharpening your SAS Skills’ to help him prepare for the BASE certification exam.  At the time he began working on the book, he notes that the SAS institute didn’t have a similar guide.  In the process of his own preparation, he went  back to basics and reviewed and researched various useful examples around the four aspects to be  tested in the BASE certification exam - Data access, Data manipulation, data analysis and data presentation.

He went on to turn the notes into a 4 hour SAS course, and encouraged by positive feedback from the students he approached a publisher with a book proposal. The book enjoyed a high degree of success- being picked up by various universities and also promoted by the SAS Institute themselves who recognized that it filled an unmet need in the market. 

Structured approach to learning

So what made the book successful?  Gupta explains: ’ My approach is to summarize information.  We have too much information that can be confusing and doesn’t lend itself to a more structured learning environment. So learn one thing at a time and then you can put things together, see relationships and build up your knowledge.’

Part of his unique approach is comparing and contrasting examples.  For example says Gupta, he was one of the first to compare WHERE vs IF and subsequently comparing and contrasting between datasets and PROC SQL.  While many people will have considered these aspects, Gupta notes that the research and investigation into some of the differences which he has included in the book go the extra mile to help programmers fully master these important concepts.

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More Complex Techniques

Gupta says that the recently published Advanced Skills book, has been a natural progression from this initial work. It focuses on more advanced features in SAS such as Proc SQL, macro development and hash objects – helping more experienced programmers to focus on improving their efficiency.  Gupta points out that there are two distinct audiences for his books.  The first audience comprises university students and graduates looking to distinguish themselves as they take their first steps into the workplace in the job market by taking the Certification. However, it’s clear that these resources are also used and valued by experienced industry professionals, who for whatever reason are using SAS in a limited capacity within their roles and wish to progress.   Gupta says ‘By taking the Advanced certificate,  programmers can get exposed to more complex techniques that make programming faster.  These are techniques they know they should be familiar with, and that others are using but they may not have the comfort level to try on their own.’  Using the Sharpening Your Advanced SAS Skills book can lead programmers through this process even if they don’t intend to go on and take the exam- all the legwork has been done, and examples available to easily use and consolidate understanding of these more advanced approaches.

We're committed to supporting the development of talent in our industry and are offering blog readers the chance to win a copy of this comprehensive book.  To enter our prize draw, click below to complete your details by 30th June 2016.  We'll notify the winner by 7th July 2016. 

Edited: This prize draw is now closed.