We were very excited to have a podium discussion about Data Science in Industry on Wednesday, 21st of November.

The evening was a success; initially the event was planned for 50 participants but as registrations kept flowing in a new venue was booked to accommodate all registrations. In total, we counted 163 registrations and show up rate of about 80%. Our audience was mostly from ETH (90%) with a strong representation of the Computer Science department (more than 25%).

Participants (left to right on the photo below)

Dr. Rebekka Burkholz, the moderator, is a mathematician and physicist by training and holds a PhD in systemic risks. Her task for the night was to keep the panel discussion flowing from one topic to the next and tease the speakers with challenging questions for our audience to gain insights in the data science industry.

Dr. Pavlin Mavrodiev, Data Scientist at Migros, combines education in electrical engineering and computer science. This broad knowledge led him to work as a software engineer at SAP, scigility, and hyperloop transportation technologies.

Dr. Sandro Saitta, who works as Chief Industry Advisor at the Swiss Data Science Center, gathered experience in various industries: Finance, Telco, Chemicals, Online Travel and Fast-Moving Consumer Goods.

Dr. Antonios Garas, the Compliance Metrics Functional Lead at Credit Suisse, is a physicist by

training who studied how complex systems are related to the fundamental properties of their

underlying network and topology.

Dr. Thomas Wiatowski, a Senior Data Scientist at Zühlke and mathematician by training, consults companies on bringing machine learning, artificial intelligence and data analytics to production.

Dr. Mario Tomasello, Senior Consultant in Forensic Technology at EY, has a strong interest in

system thinking. He gathers experience in analytics, modelling and anomaly detection in large

scale datasets.

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Discussion

Laetitia, the main organizer of this event, welcomed the participants with a presentation about the GCC’s vision and services, she introduced the panelists, and gave the word to Rebekka.

The discussion was kicked off by seeking to define the term “data science”. Thomas described data science as an interdisciplinary field, agnostic with respect to size, source, and form of the data; a field in which mathematical tools are combined to domain knowledge with the goal of creating value. Data scientists need to, therefore, actively communicate with stakeholders within a project. Pavlin, in turn, described the field of data science science as “statistics with programming”. The diversity and complementarity of opinions in the panel reflected in the whole discussion.

Next, the panelists provided an overview of their tasks and responsibilities. In data science groups incorporated in firms, the vagueness in the understanding - sometimes definition - of the competences expected from data scientists can be a source of confusion. In these context, stakeholders are generally non-data scientists who have little understanding of what data science is. They do not anticipate which algorithmic methods can answer their question and, hence, data scientist are also assigned reposting tasks which actually should be tackled by the business intelligence unit.

In the discussion about current trends in the data science industry, Pavlin shared his trust and love for the programming language Bash. He reminded the crowd several times of the essential role that the language plays in solving day-to-day data science tasks. Finally, all-round advices were given on how to enter the work force as the next data scientist. An apéro was opened and exciting discussions kept going until late.

The GCC also invited the board of the newly founded ETH Data Analytics Club to see where overlap in interests could lead to synergistic planning of projects. The board members present enjoyed the event and were enthusiastic in discussions about potential future collaborations.

We thank our supporters, in particular Rebekka, who moderated this event for us, the VSETH for the generous financial support and food&lab for welcoming is in their space and helping us with serving the apéro and the venue set-up.

Feedback

Attendees who responded to our post-event feedback survey were satisfied with the event and the approachability of the panelists with 88%. They found it helpful for their future career with 81% and want to see more of such events with 90%. We also received positive feedbacks from our guests: all those who filled in our post-event questionnaire would love to come back to the GCC for similar events! Attendees and panelists can best describe their impressions:

Attendees’s feedback:

“I really enjoyed it, it was very helpful and I appreciate the work you've all put into this event.”

“It was interesting to understand what the word 'science' means in 'data science'”

“The event was very helpful! Many thanks to the discussants and organizers.”

Panelist’s feedback:

“Perfect, just repeat the format!”


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