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With DataFest 18 coming up and Deloitte’s team organising our second Datathon in the Edinburgh office, I’ve been thinking about how I went from being a casual competition-goer to a consultant in the firm. To quote one of our directors, I’ve gone “from Datathon to Deloitte” – a journey I didn’t necessarily expect to go through one year ago. 

This time last year I was doing a Master’s degree in Data Science for Business in the University of Stirling. When I heard about Deloitte’s Datathon 2017, I was curious to see what data-related solution my team could come up with within the 24 hours the competition would last and I thought it would be great to get exposed to fresh ideas from other teams and maybe do some networking.

When I got to the event, I found myself in a team with professionals from various backgrounds, most of whom I had never met before. We were given access to a few datasets related to global economic indicators and tasked to find a way to increase financial inclusion in disadvantaged areas.

After introductions, we rolled our sleeves up and started looking at what insights we could get out of the data and exchanged some ideas, these eventually resulted in a concept for an app targeting the Indonesian population. Our combined efforts in looking at the data sets and doing further research to build our case got us the “Overall Winner” title, but this was only one of the great things I took away from the event.

The Datathon provided a great opportunity to meet other professionals interested in data in a fairly relaxed setting (in other words, over beers and pizza). Not only did bringing a variety of backgrounds together start some very interesting conversations, but it also helped everyone attending expand their networks; I still bump into some Datathon-goers at other events, which is really nice. Naturally, there was also the added benefit of getting to know some faces from Deloitte’s team, which became useful in my case, once I started looking for job opportunities.

I wouldn’t claim that attending the Datathon was my only success factor entering the firm, but it made the whole process less stressful, because I could better relate to the people, the environment and, to an extent, the type of work that I would be involved in later on.

But a year ago it wasn’t about getting the job or snatching a prize. Even in different circumstances, I would’ve been extremely happy to have attended this event. I only had to take a couple of days out of my calendar to really get a spark of inspiration, which resulted both from the Datathon’s great atmosphere and from witnessing all the different approaches that could be taken to tackle a common problem.

The great thing about this kind of event is that everybody’s experience will be unique, but it will very likely be a positive one. If you are hesitating about whether to attend this year, I’d definitely encourage you to give it a go, you never know where it will take you. 

Have a look at our video to see a round up of last year's event. To find out more about this year's Deloitte Datathon visit our website.

 

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Cynthia Morel - Consultant in Risk Analytics for Financial Services, Deloitte

Cynthia is a consultant within Deloitte’s Risk Analytics team with an interest in leveraging data to drive innovation. Before joining the firm, she won three data-centred hackathons, been shortlisted for Scotland Women in Technology Awards’ “One to Watch” category, and awarded the HSBC prize for “Best Overall Performance in Data Science for Business” resulting from her MSc degree. She recently joined Deloitte after briefly working in the insurance industry, and she now helps clients derive value from analytics, machine learning and AI initiatives.

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