Last year was an exciting year for the DatSci Awards, where we Awarded the first Scholarship for the MSc in Business Analytics with UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School. This scholarship initiative was created by Next Generation, the founders of the DatSci Awards, so that we could expand the next generation of Data Science Talent.  Each year the proceeds from the DatSci Awards ticket sales fund the scholarship and we are delighted once again to be backing a full time scholarship for 2017/2018.

We recently caught up with Despina Dovletoglou to hear what winning the Scholarship means to her:

Stories usually start with a short narration of past events, gradually exposing readers to background information until a critical present point has been reached. In my case, the present time is so challenging and simultaneously rewarding, that I will set it as the starting point of my story that comprises of three key elements. The desire to infuse advanced analytics into business decisions, appropriate actions in order to achieve the aforementioned goal and perseverance throughout the entire process.

What connected the dots in the process and ultimately gave me the opportunity to get where I am today are a master’s degree in Ireland and a scholarship. So, I currently pursue the MSc in Business Analytics at UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School and one of the main reasons for doing so is that last year I was selected as the recipient of the Derek O’Connor Scholarship sponsored by Next Generation the founders of the DatSci Awards.

Business Analytics is undeniably a hot topic nowadays and buzzwords like “big data”, “machine learning” and “A.I.” are inescapable. But these concepts are not anymore perceived in a rather theoretical way but are indeed applied in everyday business strategies forming the foundations of a new reality and signifying a radical transformation in terms of thinking, acting and predicting.

All the above, were an explicit part of my rationale when I decided that I need to equip myself with advanced analytical skills and simultaneously expand my knowledge and experience base if I wanted to keep pace with the digital disruption. My decision provoked a series of personal and professional steps that ultimately led to my return to university after a long period away from study. Even though I consider myself a lifelong learner, returning to university was not an easy decision but in my case, it was an entirely deliberate action that up until today was never even questioned.

My desire to broaden my business perspective and ultimately acquire a holistic skill set were key factors for applying to UCD Smurfit. While scouting potential graduate programmes, it became obvious that the UCD Smurfit MSc in Business Analytics programme was the one that was closer to my current needs. The curriculum was balanced between providing a foundational knowledge of quantitative and data manipulation methods and offering a set of tools that could support a data-driven business application context. And that was the learning framework that I was looking for.

A few months later I applied to the programme and after being accepted I registered for the scholarship. I still remember the feeling after the scholarship interview. Even more vividly though I recall the moment that I learned that I will be the recipient of the scholarship. If I could keep only one memory from 2017, that would be that moment. Mainly because besides being a financial benefit, the scholarship itself primarily served as an intrinsically rewarding experience and as an opportunity to stay competitive in an ever-changing business environment.

These days, the newly acquired knowledge along with a radically new conceptual way of seeing things have started to blend harmonically together. The programme, even though it is undeniably demanding and intensive, allows a great deal of learner autonomy and active learning. The course itself provides a solid basis in statistics and machine learning and progressively builds a basic yet crucial background in order to facilitate the transition to more advanced areas. The learning curve is steep but at the end of the day it all comes down to the level of commitment and the desire for constant improvement.

And these features were prevalent among people who participated at 2017 DatSci Awards, an event that I attended a few weeks after landing in Dublin. Data scientists who believe in the profound power of data and utilize them in various applications, managers who have incorporated data to various business functions and people who made the choice to be actively involved in this exciting and challenging data-driven era. It was a great opportunity to be part of a celebration where data science was the centre of a concrete and indispensable interrelated system and the best possible beginning for my analytics journey.

I am truly grateful for the opportunities that this scholarship has provided. Knowledge is power and investing in education and particularly in this programme, is something that anyone who is passionate problem solver should consider.

To learn more about the Scholarship for the MSc in Business Analytics with UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School click here.