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A toast to moving forward

A note from one of our senior data scientists

Eight months ago, I decided it was time for a change. I shifted employers, moved to a new house, and made several other big changes to boot. Some called it a quarter life crisis, some called it foolish, some called it moving forward. I personally agree with the first and the last groups. Why the first group? I will need some time and a couple of gin & tonics to talk you through that answer. Why are these changes part of moving forward? Keep reading to find out.

Data science is highly dynamic, which makes embracing change a vital characteristic of a data scientist.

Shaped by numbers, motivated by new experiences

My name is Celina, and I graduated from Ghent university in 2014. That probably doesn’t seem like so long ago, but it feels like ages to me. I studied data analytics and started my career in a large consultancy organization, shifting 8 months ago to a ‘boutique’ consultancy firm, boobook. I started out as a data scientist here and was recently promoted to senior data scientist.

There are two significant reasons why I am who I am today (professionally that is; for the personal side of things, you might need to supply a few chilled drinks). First of all, I have always loved numbers and what they represent. Secondly, I am a child of my generation and I quickly grow bored doing the same thing over and over again for long periods of time. The first resulted in me studying data science, while the second motivated me to go into consultancy, where I’d be able to tackle a multitude of industries, business problems, business domains, and more.

boobook: a match made in expertise (and don’t forget the fancy lingo)

I could feel the analytics expertise infusing the air the moment I arrived at boobook. I had gained a lot of knowledge and business maturity at my previous company, for which I am still very thankful, but I wanted to grow my analytics capabilities. I wished to be close to those experts that I observed joking around in the boobook office; I could almost see the numbers steaming from their ears.

Since I need frequent change to avoid getting bored, the analytics domain is a great match for me. New algorithms are developed at a fast pace, computers are able to process more data ever more quickly, open source tools are growing like mushrooms and new online communities are being set up by the minute.

During my studies, it was all about ‘random forest’, ‘neural networks’ and ‘k-nearest neighbours’. Today, we are diving headfirst into ‘dark data’, where recurrent neural networks, support vector machines and text mining come out to play. We are moving from what they call ‘analytics’ and into ‘deep learning’ – and let’s not even start with artificial intelligence, which is lurking just around the corner. There, that’s enough juggling of fancy terms and causing fellow analytics fans’ hearts to race.

Putting our heads together for the future of analytics

To cope with this fast-changing subject, you need a team of experts focused on niche areas that can train each other. Analytics has outgrown a single head and a single computer system. It needs more.

Data scientists love predictions, so here’s one from me. Data science will keep moving forward at a breakneck and extremely exciting pace, spreading its tentacles wherever it can. We as data scientists will need to stick together and stay strong. I do get enthusiastic when I see what is coming at us, don’t I?

In a nutshell, data science is moving forward – and so am I!




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