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Interview with Yusuf, Chartered Data Scientist – The Data Science Trailblazer

Chartered Data Scientist™ (CDS) stands as a global pinnacle achievement for data science professionals, bestowed by The Association of Data Scientists (ADaSci). This distinguished recognition requires candidates to navigate a challenging exam, showcasing their comprehensive grasp of advanced analytics and data science skills.

Yusuf Al Yakub, based in the UK, is among the elite professionals who successfully conquered the CDS examination. Recognized for his excellence in the field, Yusuf shares his experience and insights, shedding light on the journey of attaining the coveted CDS charter.

Que: Could you tell us about your professional and educational background?

Yusuf: My education is multidisciplinary, with a BEng in Mechanical Engineering and an MSc in Big Data Science and Technology, both attained from the University of Bradford, in addition to a BTEC in Manufacturing Engineering from Bradford College.

Professionally, I have worked as a data science consultant with BMA. After two years, I knew I wanted a new challenge that would help me grow. This was when I moved into a new role as a Technical Account Manager at ZE PowerGroup, where I worked with clients in commodities and trading. A year into the role, I knew it was not the path I wanted to continue and that I wanted to be back in Data Science where I could maintain, improve and continue using all my technical skills learned. This was when I joined BTTC as a Senior Consultant for Data Science. In this role, I became the go-to Data professional, helping solve complex problems using various techniques and technologies.

Que: How did your career begin in the data science field? What are your major achievements, and where do you find yourself in your career?

Yusuf: My career began shortly after completing my dissertation for my master’s. I knew I wanted to advance in the competitive market, so I started applying for Data Scientist positions all over the county, taking in as much feedback as possible to improve my CV and approach. I then applied for a role as a Data Science Consultant with a small start-up called BMA (Business Modelling Applications) based out of Bradford at the time. 

The business specialises in building bespoke solutions that offer optimisation modelling solutions predominantly for the wastewater treatment sector. These extremely complex solutions allowed the end user to model scenarios and understand what-ifs in the supply chain. Now, I am with BTTC and have found myself in the ideal position. As the business is fast-paced and dynamic, it allows me to use all my skills and adapt new ones that help improve how data is used.

Que: What were the initial challenges you faced in the field? How did you overcome them?

Yusuf: Technical abilities. Just because I had a degree did not mean I knew it all. I found this out early into the role at BMA, as when I started, I had a learning curve with the business solution stack. With it being a small consultancy, I had to adapt quickly and apply myself to the constant improvement, be that PowerBI, Python, R, Excel, MSSQL and even niche tools like River Logics Enterprise Optimizer.

Que: How did you come to know about the CDS™ examination? What motivated you to take the CDS™?

Yusuf: When discussing my goals on what I wanted to achieve in my first year with my manager at BTTC, one critical point was to become charted. We both looked for Chartered accreditations in Data Science and found that ADaSci was offering this. This was a fantastic goal to set as ADaSci is leading the way in something untapped, which is needed to distinguish data science professionals from one another.

Que: How did you prepare for the exam? How many hours did you dedicate each day to master the domain? How long did it take to prepare for the exam?

Yusuf: The first thing I used was the CDS™ Book of Knowledge, which gave me critical insight into what may be expected on the test. Upon first inspection, I realised it would not be an easy feat, and I would have to put in additional time for three things.

  1. The first is testing my knowledge and understanding, revisiting the basics of statistics I learned in my undergraduate and the ML theory I learned in my postgraduate.
  2. Second, I will discuss the technical skills I have picked up during my career.
  3. The third was aspects of the exam I had little experience with, which were areas I’d have to self-teach and utilise various online resources.

By doing these three things and constantly going back and forth with the available mock test, I could challenge myself and gauge where I was. I believe that booking the test and setting a fixed time added a level of beneficial motivation to do it right the first time. I dedicated several hours a week to preparing myself.

Que: What books and other learning resources have you followed in your journey to prepare for CDS™?

Yusuf: I used a multitude of freely available online resources, a combination of forums and online papers and articles.

Que: What was your strategy for cracking the exam? During the exam, how did you manage your time across different sections?

Yusuf: I learned during an exam that you should always be calm and collected. I allowed myself a set amount of time per question, meaning if I could not answer in 60 seconds, I would take note of the question and move on to the next, allowing me to conquer the low-hanging fruit. Once I reached a point where I knew I had reserved time, I would revisit the questions I had found difficult and would give the best answer I knew.

Que: How has your experience been after becoming a Chartered Data Scientist? How do you think CDS™ will help in your professional journey as a data scientist?

Yusuf: So far, I have gained recognition within my organisation, and I know that in upcoming projects, I will use it when introducing myself to clients as it will reassure them they have a highly skilled data scientist working on the technical solutions. The way the CDS™ is awarded allows clients to understand that I am also experienced, with over two years of working in the field.

Que: How was your overall CDS™ program experience? What would you like to tell the data science community about the CDS™ program? What are your thoughts on a career in data science and how CDS™ can help a professional?

Yusuf: I have had a great experience getting the resources and support I needed to attain the certification. Given that I am in a completely different time zone from the ADaSci team, the professionalism and support have been phenomenal. I would highly recommend to any data scientist wanting to become more distinguished to attain the award as it is set out to challenge you and your skills and can only be attained with a proven track record of experience and a real understanding of all corners of Data Science. 

I believe the award helps those who want to prove themselves in their careers to not only themselves but the wider community. With the way the exam is carried out, it means that there will be something you may not know now but should know regardless.

ADaSci wishes Yusuf good luck and all the best in his future endeavours. Happy learning!

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