Professional Data Scientist portrait with Tracey Etheridge
Our graduate Tracey Etheridge has decided to dedicate her professional career entirely to Data Science. Why? Because she loves getting the most out of data and helping companies understand and use data the right way. In our career profile, Tracey also tells us why creativity and flair are so important in her job as a Data Scientist and what she enjoyed most about studying Applied Information and Data Science at HSLU. Happy reading!
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Tracey Etheridge @ TX Group
Former Applied Information and Data Science student HSLU
First of all, tell us something about yourself: Which hashtags describe you the best?
#nohashtags but I would describe myself as someone who loves to learn new things and has a fairly positive outlook.
Tell us more about them:
Discovering something new or learning new skills keeps life interesting. I’ve continually completed formal education throughout my career, originally professional accounting qualifications, then further master studies in applied finance and now data science. There are so many things to learn that help us be not just better at our jobs but help to evolve as people when we remain open to new ideas, approaches or other people’s experiences.
Now let’s talk about your professional life: What do you do at TX Group?
I’ve worked in data analytics for 20 Minuten and now as data scientist for Goldbach Group. I am responsible for helping the business make the most out of data. Some of that work involves working on our prediction algorithms for targeted advertising, factors such as gender and age. Another interesting project is predicting audience sizes for replay tv. I also help the business understand the data we have, what the data means for the business, and what potential uses can be made from it.
What did you do previously and why did you join …?
I worked in accounting and finance roles for 10+ years. I really loved my work, particularly in finance business partnering roles, where you work with different parts of a business to help them understand their business and analyse new opportunities. But I also love technology and as more and more data was becoming available, it was becoming difficult to analyse it with traditional finance methods and tools (i.e., excel). So I looked into what more I could do and learnt more about data science techniques. I originally thought I would use the skills to enhance my finance career and broaden the analysis I could do, but I just loved everything I was learning so much that I decided to focus 100% on a data science career.
Tell us about the most exciting thing in your job:
Learning new things and problem solving. Often, like many things in life, you don’t immediately know how to solve a problem you are facing. That doesn’t generally feel very good and can be scary and stressful. But then the fun bit starts when you start to think through the issues and what you might be able to do to solve them. And when you don’t have the answers, you go out searching and learn new things to help, and you interact with new people with new ideas that help open up your thinking.
Which data science skills are especially in demand in your job?
From a technical perspective: SQL, python, workflow management, AI/ML techniques. But then you also need to be able to understand the data and bring it together in a meaningful way that enables insights that can help move the business forward. You also need to have ideas of what is possible and what might help the business.
Do you think of yourself more as a techie or as an analyst? Or as a creative genius, management superhero or generalist wiz?
I would say I am a generalist with very strong technical and analysis skills.
What do you remember the most when you look back at your time in the MSc in Applied Information and Data Science programme?
Zoom. I started in the pandemic and finished in the pandemic, so a lot of online activities. In regards to the coursework, the project work was most interesting to me and was where I had a lot of fun. In particular, I really enjoyed scraping the web to get information on coronavirus cases, and a project where we predicted restaurant turnover for actual restaurants in Zürich. But my favourite project was computer vision based, where my group generated faces based on book descriptions of characters.
What are the biggest challenges in your job at the moment?
Having enough time to do everything I want to! There are so many ways data science can be used within organisations and one of the biggest challenges is how to prioritise what gets the limited time resources we all have.
What advice would you have for others starting in the same job?
Ask a lot of questions. Understanding data, business, and possibilities is incredibly important and one of the best ways to gain this knowledge is from other people that are already experts in their areas. Also finishing a degree doesn’t mean the learning has stopped, working on projects at home is a great way to broaden the skills you have. Guided online courses are great for introducing new skills and ideas but when you pick something where you really need to think through the steps and solutions yourself, I find I learn so much more.
And finally: What new hashtag are you aiming for in 2023?
#nohashtags but I would like to continue to learn and develop and really put into practice all the things I learnt in my Masters.
We would like to thank Tracey Etheridge for her dedication and time to share with us these precious insights.
DATA IS THE RESOURCE OF THE 21ST CENTURY!
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PROGRAMME INFO: MSc in Applied Information and Data Science
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