In conversation with Shikha Gupta from GCD 2020 I Accredian Spotlight Interview

In this Accredian Spotlight interview, we feature Shikha Gupta, a leading Account Manager with over 12 years of Research & Consulting experience. Her insatiable passion for knowledge and upskilling led her to enroll in the Global Certificate in Data Science program at Accredian.

Question 1: Which program & batch are you a part of at Accredian & tell us more about your current work profile?

Shikha: I am a part of the GCD program, Feb 2020 batch, and currently exploring opportunities to transition into Data Analytics, preferably in Healthcare and Life Sciences.

Question 2: Walk us through your career journey & what got you interested in Data Science & Machine Learning?

Shikha: I have a Ph.D. in Molecular Biology and 12 years of experience in Research and Consulting across academia, industry, and government. Since I am a Scientist by training, I am naturally inclined to follow Data.

What got me interested in Data Science was a movie I saw in 2016, called Moneyball. When I saw that movie, a light bulb went on. I became curious to learn more about the tools of Data Science that can extract information from data and help use that information for predictive and prescriptive purposes across all fields.

During my last job at Elsevier, an information and analytics company, I had the opportunity to learn more about the power of analytics and its use in understanding the impact of research. Finally, in 2020, I decided to take the plunge and joined the GCD program at Accredian, with the intent to learn Data Science tools to harness the power of data.

Question 3: What tools and packages in Data Science & Machine Learning have you mastered at Accredian so far?

Shikha: Python is the most widely used tool. With packages like NumPy, Pandas, Seaborn, etc, it is a one-stop-shop to visualize, dissect, analyze data as well as build predictive machine learning models. I am learning all the packages required in the field of Data Science.

Question 4: What challenges did you face when you started your Data Science journey and how did you overcome it?

Shikha: Being from a non-coding background, it took me some time to get used to writing codes in Python. I was unsure if I would be able to write codes to build complicated ML models, but my hesitation slowly melted away as I went through different modules in the GCD program. 

Accredian’s starter kit was also very helpful for non-coders like me to learn coding in Python from scratch. I must also credit Suchit, who did a wonderful job of taking us through the starter kit in detail with a lot of patience. 

Question 5: Who is your favorite faculty at Accredian and what did you learn from them?

Shikha: My favorite faculty is Lavi Nigam, who taught us Machine Learning (Intermediate and Advanced). I liked the way he shared his knowledge on all aspects of Data Science especially EDA to the deployment of models using Python. He also shared several resources (videos, blogs, and conferences, etc) to help keep us updated on new developments in Data Science.

I also appreciate the fact how Lavi went above and beyond to motivate students to build a career in Data Science by taking extra sessions to discuss issues faced by the students in their Data Science learning journey and made himself accessible to answer doubts anytime on Telegram. 

Question 6: What is the goal of Data Science?

Shikha: The goal of Data Science is to dissect, analyze and transform data to help businesses understand their current problems. Additionally, it can also suggest ways to help businesses course-correct to improve their bottom-line. 

Question 7: How has Data Science evolved in the last few years?

Shikha: Data Science has evolved rapidly in the last 10 years. Recommendation engines have gone from intelligent guesses to almost read your mind. Self-driving cars have evolved from being a tech company’s lab project to becoming a reality. Deep fakes are so real that they are no longer fakes. Artificial Intelligence will soon become a part of our everyday lives, if not already has, which is a little scary as well as exciting.

Question 8: What current trends in Data Science are you most excited about?

Shikha: I am most excited about the use of ML and AI in Healthcare – as I believe that mankind can benefit from using existing data to improve the diagnosis and treatment of challenging and chronic diseases like cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, pulmonary disorders, COVID-19, and many more.  

The use of ML and AI in Healthcare can help us personalize and optimize treatments for patients based on their symptoms, co-morbidities, clinical indicators, and the detailed information extracted from X-Rays, CT-Scans and MRIs which is often not possible for the human eye to decipher and can help countries save huge costs incurred due to incorrect diagnosis, non-responsive therapies and lives lost.

Question 9: Which Data Science blogs do you follow?

Shikha: I mainly follow Towards Data Science and Machine Learning Mastery.  I also follow prominent Data Science influencers on LinkedIn, which helps me keep abreast of new opportunities and developments in the field of Data Science.

Question 10: What advice would you give to a beginner in Data Science?

Shikha: My advice, somewhat cliché, would be that building a career in Data Science is not a sprint but a marathon. 

One needs to be patient and keep working consistently to transition into Data Science as it is a field that is ever-evolving, hence one should be prepared for life-long learning. 

I would also suggest connecting with a couple of learning buddies with whom one can work on Data science problems, Datathons, Hackathons, etc to stay motivated.

Hope you enjoyed reading this interview. If you want to read more such interesting student stories, check out Accredian Spotlight.

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