It was the 22nd of October 2017. It started like many other days. Wake up, shower, breakfast, Moneyweb, Fin 24.
A catchy title: "100 data science interns to tackle Cape Town water shortages." I was hooked.
A few Actuaries with Data Science experience were going to start a Data Science Academy. I had an Actuarial background and was looking to learn from people with real data science experience. I found the concept intriguing, the website was enticing. The founders Aidan, Dave and Shaun had some serious credibility.
I had 15 min to spare before work. I rushed through the aptitude test, took educated guesses, closed my laptop and headed off to work.
Fast forward 30 min. I’ve just arrived at work’s Head Office in Johannesburg. I walk into my office overlooking Wanderers’ golf course. It says "Senior Statistician" on the door. I’m not very senior but, for a 26-year-old it’s a nice title, and a great view. As I look out over the golf course, all I can think about is the last question on the aptitude test.
I’m kicking myself. Why did I rush the test?
I need to do something. I’ve messed up an opportunity of a lifetime. I mail the only email address I can find, begging for another chance.
A response comes back almost immediately. My answers must have been on point. I’m invited to continue testing and then to an interview. I’m accepted to study Data Science full-time at the Academy. Epic!
The next day I send a letter of intent to resign to my manager. He calls me in. He says I’m overqualified for the academy. He says he knows the content and the company will find time to teach me on the side. The doubt sets in. My savings will be depleted. I’ll take a step back in my career. I look at the website again and then again. I research Dave Strugnell, Aidan Hembold, Shaun Dippnall. These guys have real-world experience in data science.
In 2017 that’s rare. I’ll make my savings back. In the long run, it will be worth it. I resign. I’m off to Cape Town.
3 years later. I’m a Technical Lead in London. I’m leading a team of six incredibly smart Data Scientists and Data Engineers. We are working to reduce blockages that occur in the sewers of London for the largest water utilities company in the UK. Blockages often lead to pollution events destroying all wildlife in the area. I believe we can make a real difference.
I joined EXPLORE after my year at the academy. The academy changed my life. I learned to code, to work with people, and to communicate effectively. I applied machine learning theory to real-world problems without obvious solutions or memos. Learning and solving real problems became ingrained in my day-to-day life. Since joining EXPLORE I’ve changed my role 8 times in 3 years. That’s a lot of experience. I never stopped learning or growing.
With my new set of skills, It feels like I’m competing at a new level. The world sometimes feels backward.
EXPLORE is ahead of its time.
I’m 29. I didn't just make back the year I took off. I was launched into a whole new trajectory. The future looks really exciting.
Technical Lead, EXPLORE-Utilities