1. Tell us who you are and your journey with data?
I appreciate the organizers for the opportunity. I’m Justine, a graduate with BSC. Mathematics from the University of Nnamdi in Nigeria. In 2016, I graduated with MSC mathematical sciences with a major in financial mathematics in Cameroon. 2018 I got a business management certification with a European School of Management and Technology in South Africa. I did a 3-month internship with eHealth Africa After I gained a permanent position.
2. So what exactly do you do at eHealth Africa?
I work as a data scientist in these departments: Geographic information system and Data analytics. l essentially help to identify patterns and all the other aspects of data mining.
3. Kindly share some challenges you encountered as a data scientist?
There are no good structures for data science systems in Africa. Our institutions have not recognized the importance of data science. As a result, most African universities do have departments that build on the foundation. Debugging is an unavoidable challenge in Data Science, but if you are very determined and focused you can always get errors resolved. As lovers and upcoming data scientists, l will entreat you to adopt these two qualities.
4. Have you always wanted to be a data scientist and if not then what actually inspired you to become a one?
Growing up my mom wanted me to become a medical doctor but my dad wanted me to become a barista that's why he named me Justice. After my entrance examination for medicine, I couldn't make the marks, so I opted for mathematics in the second year. In regards to my motivation, watching people forecasting the weather grew my interest in forecasting models. I started working on a few little predictions in 2013 and during my industrial training, I had the opportunity to work with data, making my interest to grow more. Along the way, I discovered that as a data scientist you can also help improve upon people's way of life in the health sector although you are not a medical doctor.
5. What kind of data do you work with?
I work with both structured and unstructured data sets, depending on the project.
6. As a public health personnel diving into data science, how can someone like me fit into eHealth Africa?
We have a lot of graduates from public health in eHealth Africa and we have a lot of units that can actually be suitable for you. At eHealth Africa, healthcare delivery is our core focus area, so someone like you can easily fit in the public health delivery department.
7. How can I apply to start working at eHealth Africa?
eHealth Africa is an NGO, you can either apply as a volunteer or an intern or as a full-time worker and undergo the recruitment processes.
8. You mentioned that someone who wants to make a career in Data Science, has to be determined and focus, so aside from these two attributes what other attributes will you recommend?
Data Science is a rigorous discipline, that we can't do without, in this fourth Industrial Revolution. The main focus of data science is, understanding your role and the tools needed. Most organizations are not interested in the kind of tools that you can use, but rather providing solutions to real-world problems. You need to be hard-working, to be able to compete in the real world. There has to be uniqueness in what you do so that whenever you build a predictive model, it is different from another parameter. Note that you are not just competing with Africans, but rather, the whole world. As a data scientist, your dream is to work in Silicon Valley, Facebook, and, Google.
9. Where do you see yourself 5years from now?
I didn't join eHealth as a GIS specialist, I joined as an expert in data science. I was given a task on GIS, and I got to know some of the tools used for GIS analysis. In the coming five years, if I have the opportunity to work on GIS-based projects, I will get certified in GIS, and also extend my knowledge into the aspect of remote sensing as well.
10. What are some of the exciting projects you've worked on and then which ones were quite challenging?
The kind of project that excites me is a project that has to do with direct impacts on society. The challenge is not based on the project but rather the team members. Here at eHealth Africa, we always undertake projects that are impactful to society.