Interview Thomas Ardern-Mulhern, junior Data Scientist

Hi Thomas, could you tell me something about yourself?

Something about myself. I liked people before I liked numbers, so I did my bachelor in psychology. Because I quite liked the idea of learning about human behaviour, the way we think, the way we interact.I really enjoyed my bachelor, but I initially loathed the statistical side.  By the end however I feel like that became my favourite part, after it clicked, I realized that it’s really cool to be able to understand the process by which we came to our conclusions in psychology (and science in general) and it opened up a whole new perspective for me.

My partner, who lives in the Netherlands, was looking at various Master’s programmes in UVA and found a premaster in Behavioural Data Science. This sparked my interest since I wanted to do more with statistics. So, I moved to Amsterdam. First time in a foreign country was tough though, living on my own in a small room where the temperature never got above 13 degrees. It was madness, eventually I transitioned into my masters in Methodology and Statistics and Psychology at Leiden University and moved there.

Did you enjoy your study?

My master’s was a lot of fun. One of the first courses I did was on statistical consultancy in which I sat down with a master student from the Leiden hospital, the LUMC. She had anonymized data on spinal disc degeneration within patients and she wanted to see if any of these factors would be useful in predicting whether or not somebody developed severe neurodegeneration in later life. As a statistician, I knew nothing about medicine and as a medical student, she knew very little about statistics. Through collaboration, however, we made sense of the data and came to some reasonable conclusions given the available data. I learned a lot about an area which I would never have otherwise explored and when I graduated that experience stuck with me when I was looking at jobs. Through my job search, someone recommended that I talk to Gido at AnalitiQs, so I did.  

Looking into AnalitiQs and people analytics made me feel lucky, I thought ‘Oh, jeez, that sounds like statistics with a kind of psychological twist. Someone like me would really enjoy something like that’. So, I went overnight from working as a part-time barista to working as a junior data scientist. A big difference, but with the same principles: I have to produce a product that the client will like.

So how do you like it here so far, what do you do?

I’m enjoying my job as a junior data scientist because I get to learn a lot and work with tools like PowerBI and it’s a great outlet to sharpen my Python skills. Also, I’m answering people’s queries when it comes to things like SPSS and I’m working on improving some of the English documentation.

In terms of projects, I perform equal pay analyses and perform internal AnalitiQs work. For example, I am creating a dashboard to showcase our eNPS results on the website right now. I will also assist with the HR Academy by providing Excel training as part of the 3-day Excel for HR Analytics course.

I’m having fun so far, even if it’s exhausting sometimes since I’m still learning. I find that the best way in which I learn things personally is to apply it. It’s just to do some things wrong and do some things right and get feedback. And then just kind of tweak and tweak and tweak. Everyone’s been super helpful, it’s really collaborative here and I like that a lot.

And what do you think you can bring to AnalitiQs and what are your ambitions?

I’m very people orientated and focused on the underlying psychology of things. And I like to think in the future I can bring that to clients as an additional perspective. I believe it’s not just about the technical requirements, these products can be broader than that.

In terms of ambitions, I’m not really thinking past the coming 7 months, maybe you need to interview me again after I complete some projects. For now, the consultancy aspect of the work has a certain appeal, collaborating on projects, solving something together with a group. I think I thrive off that kind of social interaction and I would like to bring that kind of energy to the company.

I think that’s the psychologist in you. And what about your private life? What do you like to do?

So, as one might imagine, I like social things. I play Dungeons and Dragons with a couple of buddies. I’m the narrator, the guy with all the extra voices. It’s a nice method of escapism. Aside from that, I read and relax. My girlfriend’s parents live in Groningen, so we’ll often go up there on the weekend and have walks with them and their dog in the countryside.

Lastly, is there anything else we need to know about you that we have not talked about?

No, I’ve got no criminal record or anything like that 😉 But I can tell you I’ve never played sjoelen before. It’s apparently a thing here on Fridays. So, this week when the board comes out, I will have a go at it!

Overall, I’m pretty new to everything, I’m green in many ways. When I look at everyone here I definitely have a lot of things to learn, but I like to put myself in difficult situations which challenge me and AnalitiQs is a challenge that is already benefitting me greatly.

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