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Insights and inspirations: Unveiling statistical journeys at the SSA NSW Branch's event for students and early career statisticians

6 Nov 2023 3:10 PM | Marie-Louise Rankin (Administrator)

At the very end of September, the NSW Branch hosted 6 industry speakers and just over 40 students at the Courtyard Café at the University of Sydney. Once everyone arrived and food and drinks were flowing, the atmosphere was alive with conversation. This was until everyone started to hear from the guest speakers, and all attendees were listening with great interest. This event was partially sponsored by the Susquehanna International Group.

The event was opened by Yunwei Zhang and Jeffery Kwan, who were both instrumental to the organisation and realisation of this year's event.

Dr Kerry Roberts spoke about her journey into the banking world, one that she expressed as unexpected but enjoyable. Many questions were sent her way and the responses broke down some preconceptions and demonstrated the different interesting problems that are faced and also solved. Her talk also provided some nice insights into the transition towards more managerial positions. Olga Yevtushenko shared her journey so far with infectious excitement. We have no doubts that many attendees felt this as well. Her journey to SEEK through banking involved a wide range of data science projects and her recent success in Databricks LLM Cup gave insight into other exciting opportunities that are available.

Dr Chen Chen gave insight into what statistics looks like in NESA (NSW Education Standard Authority) and how statistical methods in their workflows help monitor and drive student achievement. He shared his journey into this role, promoting the quality of the work environment and attempted to convince many of the ECR at the event to sign up for a statistical role that was available at the time. Jordan Hedi shared some great perspectives on his involvement with the NSW public sector at HealthStats NSW. His role as Senior Biostatistician helps to shape the interactive, web-based applications that provided by HealthStats NSW.

Dr Marcel Keller shared his world travel experiences that eventually led to him working for CSIRO’s Data61. His journey into the more computational aspects of statistics and the insights into the differences between what is considered a “programmer” and a “scientist” helped to develop peoples understanding. His work with MP-SPDZ provided a glimpse into the practical connections between developing, deploying, and sharing software to further development in a range of different areas.

Dr William Tong captivated our audience by recounting his remarkable journey through a multifaceted career. Beginning with a stint as a postdoctoral researcher in health analytics within the academic sphere, he then ventured into the corporate world, making significant contributions at prestigious organisations such as the REA Group, Amazon Web Services, and his current role at Canva as a data science manager. Dr Tong’s diverse trajectory serves as a compelling testament to the boundless possibilities and versatility that a statistical degree offers.

After all the panellists had spoken, the event continued with networking between all SSA members, panellists and SIG representatives present. Catering was provided for the event, with everyone staying to chat until we were politely asked to leave as the venue was closing. Overall, It appeared that everyone there attended because they were interested in what a “journey into the workforce through statistics” looks like and left with many new ideas and understandings.

by Connor Smith and Jeffrey Kwan

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