Applying Data Science to the Telecoms Industry An interview with Matt Roberts, Strategic Analytics Manager at giffgaff and Applied Data Science Online Bootcamp alumnus
Q1: Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your journey with us on the Online ADS bootcamp?
My background is in Economics, building Time Series models for forecasting, as well as marketing mix models to predict the impact of advertising spend on various metrics.
I decided that I wanted to expand my knowledge of modelling techniques by signing up to a course. Whilst I had spent 2 years studying a part time Masters in Economics, I wanted to take part in a course that was more hands-on in utilising the techniques in programming languages that I was less familiar with and ultimately I felt this would really improve my day-to-day work.
Q2: Why Data Science?
When I signed up to the course, I had around 6 years experience in working in Business Intelligence (BI) type roles that have varied in outputs such as reporting, analysing trends or building models, but I felt that I wanted to progress into the Data Science field as I see it as to being a natural progression from where BI roles have been historically.
I fully recognise that my background is not in Computer Science, but I felt that by getting to grips with the fundamentals of Data Science, in combination with my background in Economics, would (hopefully!) build tools that were relevant to companies going forward such as recommender or classification systems.
Q3: What motivated you to do this bootcamp? And what made you choose online vs in-person?
By my own request, I moved into a Data Science team at work and I felt that I wanted to study at the same time as doing my day job so that I could absolutely guarantee that I would be learning the theory and practical application of Data Science techniques.
I think it can be very easy in a working environment to utilise the skills that are already familiar, and I think to truly progress, it’s a great idea to partake in some form of studying outside of work, especially whilst you have no further commitments that might eat into your time!
I chose to study online from a practical perspective. I liked the idea that I could take the classes in my own time and I did wonder whether I would want to be commuting and having 7 day working weeks. In hindsight, however I think this would not have necessarily have been a problem and I might have chosen differently.
Q4: Your favourite module of the bootcamp and why?
There are still some exciting modules to come for me, for example the deep learning module, but I definitely enjoyed the ensemble models and support vector classifiers because I felt that these techniques seemed like very cutting-edge and recent methodologies that had such demonstrable results with respect to performance.
Q5: How do you plan to apply your learnings from the ADS bootcamp?
I would like to think that I am already using these methodologies in my job today. I use Python every day in my role as well as the scikit learn toolkit among other packages and I have worked on building Recommender Systems, pricing recommendations and aggregate Time Series churn forecasting.
Q6: Why should others choose Cambridge Spark?
For me, there are a lot of courses out there right now that are all supposedly ‘best in class’ and will ‘absolutely guarantee you a job in Data Science after 6 months’, and I found it hard to choose. Some of these courses can be written off simply because they are unaffordably expensive, but on the whole it is difficult to know which is the right course.
From a personal perspective, I wanted to use techniques that are ‘current’, become familiar with programming/scripting (whilst not expecting to completely master it) and be able to understand the theoretical concepts behind why to choose a certain methodology and how to use it. I believe this course has achieved these objectives.
I would love to have more of a mathematical background into some of the methodologies as I think this is a key concept, but I think maybe this is reserved for Masters/PhDs and was probably expecting a bit too much! My only other comment is that [had I done the bootcamp again] I would have definitely asked a lot of questions over slack when I have not understood things, which have certainly patiently been answered.
Q7: Three words that summarise your experience…
Insightful and Thought-Provoking.
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