For this impact spotlight, we talked to Ishango.ai data scientist Ethel Mensah from Ghana about her work as a data scientist, her experiences in the field, and the impact of her work at Ishango.
Can you share a bit about your background and how you first became interested in data science?
I graduated from Wesley Girls’ High School in Cape Coast, Ghana, and then pursued economics, statistics and mathematics at the University of Ghana. I eventually graduated with degrees in economics and mathematics. After my national service, I went to the African Institute of Mathematical Sciences in Rwanda, where I pursued a Master’s degree in Mathematical Sciences with a focus on data science. My interest in data science started during my Master’s programme, when I took courses on machine learning and data analysis.
What is your current role, and how does it add value to your client organisation?
I currently work with Ishango.ai on the data science team for our client, Elder Research. My role involves building machine learning models and ensuring the quality of the data before creating a model. By doing so, I add value to the client organization by ensuring that the models are accurate and efficient, which ultimately helps them in their decision-making process.
What are some of the challenges of building a career in data science? What is your advice for overcoming these challenges?
One of the challenges I have faced is the ever-expanding definition of “data science.” Data scientists are expected to have a lot of skills, ranging from mathematics to statistics to knowledge of various software. In addition, different companies have different definitions of what a “data scientist” is. To overcome this challenge, data scientists should identify their strengths, develop expertise in a specific area, and stay current with emerging trends through continuous learning and networking. By doing so, they can establish themselves as experts in their field and stand out among the growing competition.
In what ways have you used your expertise in data science to address social issues or promote social impact?
At Ishango, I have had the opportunity to work with outreach programmes, speaking to secondary school students about the importance of STEM education and the career prospects that exist with STEM education. I have shared my experience at two schools in Ghana, and I am also a mentor at AIMS for young girls in their second or third year of secondary school who are taking STEM subjects.
How has being a part of Ishango had an impact on you personally and professionally?
Being a part of Ishango has been a blessing that gave me my first opportunity in the tech space. I have learned a lot and grown as a data scientist through the opportunities and interactions with experts that Ishango has provided. Working with a professional team at Ishango and the Elder Research team has improved my understanding of data science and model building.
What do you hope to achieve in your data science career in the next 5 years?
In the next five years, I hope to have expanded my experience through learning and research, as well as working on real-world issues. I aspire to become a voice for optimisation in data science.