What got you interested in Data Science?
I’ve always been interested in exact sciences, preferring a logical approach supported by numbers. I did my degree in Applied Mathematics and while at university I really enjoyed seeing how statistics applied to research. Working as a statistician in an obstetrics gynaecology clinic gave me a chance to apply my skills, such as organising and interpreting data before presenting my findings. The experience was invaluable and one of the main reasons I chose my MSc in Mathematical Statistics at Stockholm University. This was where I discovered data science! I loved how it allowed me to contribute to various fields, every project was a new mystery for me to solve!
What is your favourite part about working in the technology sector?
Whilst at university I held down jobs in hospitality, IT and tutoring, which quickly made me realise I didn’t like repetition! In technology, no two days are the same. My favourite part however is that its limitless in scope, with no end to what you can achieve. Technology allows us to cure diseases and communicate with others no matter where they are in the world. It’s constantly changing and always exciting! Personally, my work must be challenging. It’s a big part of what motivates me. If I am bored, I am not productive.
What is your favourite part about working at Concirrus?
That’s a hard one, what we do at Concirrus is very new to the industry and although it’s challenging at times, I find it thrilling. If I had to choose, I would say the people and company culture. I believe a company is made by its people, I love the fact that we’re thinking as a team, helping each other and having fun while doing it. It is very much a ‘drop by to your desk’ policy here which I love.
What advice would you give to someone looking to get into your field?
Do your research. A field like ours is constantly evolving; you need to make sure you stay up to date. Don’t just study though, get your hands dirty, apply your research and smile while doing it! With us techies, a good laugh is always welcome. If you’re staring at a computer screen all day it’s important to remember your social skills. My advice would be to make sure you get out and socialise, remember to have fun!
What would you say to your 18-year-old self?
At 18 you don’t really know what it means to be an adult. I’m not even sure to this day that I know what that means! Maths excited me when I was young, and I was exceptionally good at it. However, it was tradition in my family to go into medicine. I never felt pressured by my parents, but as an 18-year-old I wanted to make my parents proud and put pressure on myself. Still, I ended up standing by my passion and chose maths.
What I would say to that 18-year-old girl today is don’t be afraid to fail. In fact some of the best things in your life will happen because you failed; the best stories, best lessons and best friends. I would tell her you’re doing the right thing, choosing what you love over the safe choice is the right decision. In the future you will fall in love with Data Science and work will not feel like work anymore.
What is your career highlight so far?
For my graduate thesis, I worked at the Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics (MEB) at the Karolinska Institute, in the medical University of Stockholm. The title of my thesis was ‘Handling ties in the Rank-Ordered Logit model applied in epidemiological settings’. The aim of the analysis was to identify significant relationships between SNPs (single-nucleotide polymorphisms) and alcohol or drug abuse scores of the individuals participating in the study when the family history is adjusted for by matching it. It was an invaluable experience and my thesis was published in the Statistical Methods in Medical Research, a journal known for its impact and rated 5 out of 119 in the category ‘Statistics and Probability’.
How do you see the gender gap in technology changing in the future?
We still have a long way to go before the gender gap in our industry closes entirely. Studies show that women occupy 10-15% of data science roles however, I think that initiatives are helping to minimise the imbalance in our profession. Organisations now offer mentorship for women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and people are more aware of the imbalances within traditional professions. I’ve seen an increase in the number of female role models and stories of inspiring women in tech in recent years. Inspirational stories are shared to a greater extent (like the African American women who worked for NASA in the 1940s and turned around the Space Race). So, I truly believe that in the future our field will be different.
To end this interview, we’d love to hear a funny story from your time here at Concirrus
I don’t usually get nervous for interviews or presentations. In general, I am a very sociable and confident person. When I came in for my technical interview at Concirrus I was given a test to complete. It was quite demanding, but I was able to solve it. To my surprise, after I'd finished the test, my interviewer started asking me questions. They started with a very basic question and the simplicity of it caught me off guard. I was frozen, unable to answer a very basic question immediately after doing so well in such a complicated task! I started laughing and told them, you must think I’m crazy! Thankfully they saw the humour in this too, and the interview went well after that. I was sure from then on that I would fit in well here.
Meet Mita Chavda in our Concirrus' women in tech series part 2.