Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Wellington, NZ, and have lived in Sydney for half my life. During university, I worked in retail electronics, as a barista, research assistant, social carer, process technician, and tutor. I did a year of exchange in Freiburg, Germany and a short consulting internship in Bangalore, India; they both changed the way I saw the world.
How did you get to your current job position?
I applied online and was offered a position at the SAS Customer Advisory Academy in the US. After graduating from the three-month academy, I’ve been at SAS for a total of eight months in Consulting.
How did you choose your specialisation?
Throughout high school, I was always passionate and interested in the environment. Renewable energy was a specialisation that promised forward-facing technology, social and environmental benefit, and diversity in challenges. Alternatives I considered included mechanical, photovoltaic, and environmental engineering.
I had completed a data analytics internship during uni where I analysed tertiary student mobility data, and thoroughly enjoyed learning lots of little insights that I found while wrangling and slicing spreadsheets. My engineering degree also emphasised the importance of using data, programming, and analytical skills to convey the business value of technical ideas.
What was your interview process like?
I found the interview process quite rigorous and structured compared to other interviews I have attended. It involved presenting a theoretical business case on a real company, demonstrating both market value and technical domain knowledge. Applicants should be well-prepared in advance but also be able to think on their feet. Questions focused on determining whether the applicant possessed a logical and analytical mind, fresh ideas, and natural curiosity.
What does your employer do?
We do analytics, data science, and machine learning.
What are your areas of responsibility?
As part of Consulting, I’m responsible to customers for providing accurate, advisory support and for building analytical solutions that help them run their business. I’m also responsible for leading and educating them in new technology and techniques, for example, neural networks or the internet of things!
Can you describe a typical workday?
A typical workday would be working on different projects while communicating with international colleagues in different regions of the world. I have the freedom to accomplish tasks that I’ve set for myself or ones I’ve received from my colleagues. I can reach out for support at any time and others reach out to me too, so that we can share knowledge.
I’ve worked recently on building a text analytics use case for a utility company, scrapping tweets about a certain topic, and performing natural language processing to extract topics, categories and concepts. I then take these text features and augment them with geo-data so I can visualise them on dashboards for further analysis. This is powered by neural networks – I’m basically teaching an AI how to read tweets!
What are the career prospects with your job?
The career prospects are surprisingly broad, and SAS gives you freedom in choosing where and how you want to proceed. Want to become a docker/Kubernetes guru? Or maybe a data scientist? Cloud specialist, or Fraud expert? As for me, I’ll be doing the Internet of Things and machine learning!
What would your career be if you weren’t doing what you’re doing now?
When I chat with other grads who were in my cohort, I would probably be an energy analyst or field engineer.
What do you love the most about your job?
I love that I’m on the cutting edge of technology, and constantly doing cool stuff that I’ve only read about in tech news. Solving problems by constantly learning and adapting is the bread and butter of engineers!
What’s the biggest limitation of your job?
It can be stressful and scary when talking to customers because I always imagine them to be magnitudes smarter than me but that’s part of my responsibility; being confident in the advisory service I provide them, in the area of my expertise. The biggest limitation for me would be having to wait for projects related to me to pop-up, so I can get really dug into some real-world problems.
One special thing about SAS is how we value work-life balance and take it quite seriously. It’s quite reassuring to see nearly all my colleagues pack up and go home at 5.00 pm.
Which three pieces of advice would you give to a current university student?