Casey Cahan's Master of Professional Studies thesis gave him a deeper understanding of database systems and experience writing scientific papers – both essential skills in the data science field.
Career: Data scientist
Programme: Master of Professional Studies in Data Science
“One of my brothers was heading a quant [quantitative] research team on Wall Street, and he recommended data science as a field in hot demand. I really enjoyed my undergraduate studies in statistics and computer science, so the MProfStuds in Data Science offered a great opportunity to dive deeper into both subjects, while setting myself up well career wise.
“I really enjoyed that the MProfStuds contained a good mixture of practical projects as well as not shying away from theory. I was given flexibility to choose courses and research projects in areas that I was interested in, and in areas which had immediate relevancy to my career. It was a well organised programme, with ready offers of help and guidance from the coordinator and lecturers.
“I started out as a Graduate Analytics Consultant at Mindfull Limited while I finished my MProfStuds. I’m now a Data Scientist at the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE).
“Recently I’ve been applying data science to a large-scale biometric identification system. This has involved the practical application of many techniques I learnt during my MProfStuds: ranging from creating predictive models geared towards reducing risk (catching more fraud) and reducing cost (automation); to producing statistical forecasts to inform resourcing; to writing complex SQL queries to serve as the foundation for a new business intelligence suite; to developing software to enable business owners to simulate and visualise the impact of different scenarios and different system design choices.
“The highlight of my first role [at Mindfull] was getting to watch and meet some of our clients – The Blues rugby team – at an otherwise empty Eden Park during one of their Captain’s Run training sessions.
“A highlight in my current role has been seeing predictive models – which we’d spent substantial time and effort designing, documenting, building, testing, iterating on, and advocating for – finally get deployed into production. It’s very rewarding to see ‘on paper’ benefits finally become tangible and start having a real positive operational impact on the wider organisation.
“Later this year I’ll go to a conference in Sydney to learn from international experts in my field – I anticipate that being a highlight too!
“At the moment I’m really happy doing what I’m doing right now. One day I’d like to do a PhD, or perhaps even take a shot at a start-up!
“I hope that my work pushes the pendulum in a positive bearing, for example, by improving public security, reducing unnecessary public expenditure, or demonstrating to others how data science can help achieve these outcomes – even if it’s only a slight nudge in the scheme of things.
“I’m driven by the ambition to achieve positive change. I’m also lucky to just enjoy programming and tackling challenging problems – which my roles in the data science field have so far been all about.”