Interview with Viktoria Denisova
Our previous post gave a brief introduction into the world of data mining and data analysis. Today we have an interview with a recent data mining graduate who is looking forward to apply data mining techniques she learned in the university’s classroom to the real-word data forecasting problems.
Please tell us your story: how did you end up in the data analysis world? Where are you from, where did you study and where are you now?
I am from Saint Petersburg, Russia. During my studies of philosophy and logic at Saint Petersburg State University, I was very interested in research. I was especially drawn towards the formalisation of question-answer episodes using different formal logical tools. During my last years of studies I had a part-time job as a Business Analyst, at which I applied my knowledge and got a practical experience in analysis. I wanted to gain international experience and chose the Netherlands for continuing my studies. The Institute for Logic, Language and Computation of the University of Amsterdam offered the Masters of Science in Logic program, which was in line with my educational and research interests. I received an Amsterdam Merit Scholarship and moved to Amsterdam. Among the courses I took subjects such as mathematical logic, philosophy, and natural language semantics. At that time I wanted to learn more about various disciplines. My passion for learning remained the same after graduation. My interests developed towards data analysis, forecasting and workforce management. I learned various methods of data analysis and was especially interested in forecasting.
Speaking from your experience, what are the most important skills and knowledge graduates miss they are graduated from Universities?
The benefit of university education is that it gives you more theoretical knowledge but graduates have to learn how to apply this knowledge in a practical way. Graduates have state-of-art knowledge and skills and they can contribute by way of bringing new ideas to the company. The business world is very dynamic and it requires constant studying of the relevant applications. Typically, fresh graduates do not yet have enough overview of the requirements of the industry. They may not yet see the directions in which they want to move. Although graduates have a great potential, it needs time to develop. What they miss is the experience of choosing the field which suits their skills – that is why, I think, it is important to have a good mentor at this stage.
Which knowledge gathered during your studies and skills obtained in academia can be immediately applied in real-world projects?
I think an ability to meet deadlines, work both independently and in a team. During my master studies I had to complete research projects on various topics. Research experience nourishes skills such as the ability to think independently, formulate questions, and observe connections and correlations between different areas and subjects. Researchers have a creative mind and can contribute to the growth of companies by finding new perspectives. I completed a research masters in logic during which I performed many individual research projects. I had to perform analyses of the relevant literature and make connections between various approaches. This analytical mind-set is applicable to business, especially when the business requires analysis of data in order to make predictions about the growth of the business. Also, I had to publicly defend the results of my research, which shows that I am capable in presenting the projects as well.
Speaking about academia, what should the graduates who are willing to continue their career in academia be prepared for?
An academic career requires high level of flexibility. Once you have chosen to be in academia, you have to be ready to move from country to country. You should know that you might earn more money quicker outside the academia. The PhD degree on its own does not mean that you will find a job faster or that it will be a job in line with your background. An academic life-style requires much travelling. This may affect your personal life. So I think that graduates who are willing to continue their career in academia should be aware about the consequences of their choice.
What is your advice to students and professionals who are planning to move to the Netherlands? What can they expect from personal and professional perspectives?
I would suggest planning your stay in the Netherlands in advance. Be prepared that you move to another country which implies that it would be helpful to have some knowledge of the culture and traditions of a foreign country. Although Dutch people speak English, it is very useful to learn some phrases in Dutch. There are many expats events in the Netherlands, so I would suggest attending some of them. It will get you to know new people and feel more comfortable in a foreign country. The hierarchies are usually flatter than in other countries, but be aware that they nevertheless exist.
Viktoria Denisova studied philosophy and logic in Saint Petersburg State University where she obtained a specialist degree in philosophy. She then continued her studies at the University of Amsterdam. She obtained her Masters of Science in Logic degree from the Institute for Logic, Language and Computation. Now, she focuses on forecasting and data analysis to which she brings an expertise in logical analysis.