March 11, 2021

Après-Lunch with a PhD candidate in Financial Economics and a Data Scientist

This webinar was held on 11 March in celebration of the International Day of Mathematics (IDM). The webinar hosted two phenomenal women as speakers.  Ms Oluwakemi Imole Adewumi and Ms Mulunga Makhubele, both AIMS Alumni who have inspiring career journeys in the Mathematical Sciences discipline. Ms Adewumi is currently a PhD candidate in Financial Economics at the University of Kent in the UK. Her research interests intersect Macroeconomics and Finance, particularly macro-finance linkages, financial economics, and international finance. On the other hand, Ms Makhubele is a Data Science Specialist at Telkom in South Africa, a mother and also a blogger. From 1 April 2021, she started her new job as a Senior Data Scientist at Healthy Health in the UK. She is also currently pursuing her MSc degree in Applied Mathematics at Stellenbosch University with a focus on Computer vision.

Ms Oluwakemi Imole Adewumi

In her presentation, Ms Adewumi shared her experience at AIMS and various skill sets or tools she has gained from AIMS. Such tools include Python, R, SAGE, etc., which are the tools that assisted in her transitioning from a Mathematics degree to her current PhD training. She went further to explain the effect of the diversity at AIMS in terms of modules and the students and also the different teaching styles one gets to experience.

“At AIMS you also get to have a taste of what is emerging in the industry as well as in academia. AIMS opened my eyes in terms of emerging discussion in academia and industry. My understanding of the application of Mathematics got broadened and I was able to connect the dots between some pure Mathematical concepts and their applications.”

Moreover, Ms Adewumi discussed the opportunities and continuous support one gets while at AIMS and after leaving AIMS.

“Make it a point that you harness every opportunity given to you in all prospects at AIMS and also reach out to AIMS alumni who are working in the field of your interest. AIMS will help you identify your strengths and weaknesses. Don’t panic!”

Ms Mulunga Makhubele

After sharing her pre- and post-AIMS career experience, Ms Makhubele shared some of the common myths and misconceptions about the field of Data Science. This was critical, especially at this time where the demand for data scientists in industry and academia is rapidly rising hence most graduates are looking for ways to utilize such opportunities. Such myths include the perception that Data science is a field for mathematical geeks; Data Science is all about building neural networks; Learning Python, R, Tensorflow, Keras is what makes you a data scientist; and Having a degree in Mathematics/ Statistics or Computer science is the key to becoming a Data Scientist. Regarding the latter, she mentioned that, as much as one needs mathematics to understand data science, you can actually do it without mathematics. That is, you can learn data science on the job.

 “You should not allow these myths to limit you from doing data science”, she added. 

Furthermore, Ms Makhubele went on to explain her exact duties as a data scientist. She went further to discuss what it takes to be a data scientist. Then she walked the audience through the life and challenges of a data scientist. One of the points she touched on is the need for curiosity and patience as a data scientist. She further emphasized the importance of programming skills for aspirant data scientists.

 “Data science is a very dynamic field career, you have to learn quickly and often,”, she elaborated.

One of the questions that came from the participants during the Q&A was about internships in Mathematical Sciences. Both Ms Adewumi and Ms Makhubele both shared their knowledge of companies involved in training graduates such as Explore Data science, KPMG and JPMorgan.

When asked Kindly elaborate on how the event aligned or deviated from your initial expectations, some of the participants had this to say:

“It was perfect at times seeing that in this block we are doing Data Science and financial maths as review courses at Aims so I really learnt a lot of what is out there in the real world.”

“Since I graduated from AIMS, I was confused about the career choice in the applied mathematics field and how to study in the chosen field. It is true that I am interested in financial mathematics. This webinar helped me show what to do and to connect with a mentor in that field. Through this webinar, I got more confidence to do applied mathematics. I got a mentor who can orient me in the field of financial mathematics.”

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