It all started with a self-programmed math training, guided by Princess Lillifee that I discovered my passion for programming. Now working as a Data Scientist at the Siemens Financial Services Discovery Lab, me and my colleagues not only share this passion, but any idea and thought in order to foster co-creation.
A career that starts with a fairy tale
As this is my very first article on the Ingenuity, I would like to introduce myself briefly. My name is Katalin and I work as a Data Scientist at the Siemens Financial Services (SFS) Discovery Lab in Munich. Before I tell the story of how I got here, this is me in a nutshell:
⛷️🥾 I enjoy the proximity to the mountains, especially for skiing, but hiking is also a fun alternative in summer.
❤️♣️ I regularly have game nights with friends where we play card games like “Doppelkopf” and “Schafkopf” (two very famous German card games). And no, I am not too young for that. It is definitely a misconception that this is a hobby for old people.
🍸💃 I love going out with friends. I’ve missed that a lot this year and I think I will never get too old for it.
👩🍳🥗 I recently started to enjoy cooking (believe me, I would never have said that before the coronavirus pandemic). Currently I am exploring vegan cuisine and I put a lot of effort into preparing fancy breakfast bowls.
After finishing their studies, a lot of people ask themselves what kind of job they want to do. Of course, their field of study already determines a direction. Nevertheless, the job market is so diverse and there are so many possibilities that finding the right job will probably be a tough choice. Often it is a product of chance that leads you to your first job, and from there on the experiences you gain bring you to the next and may influence your career going forward.
In my last year at school my math teacher organized a Matlab programming course that I really liked. Afterwards I wrote my first program – a math training program for the 8th grade about La Place distribution. The avatar that guided you through the program was Princess Lillifee – a character of a German cartoon TV series for children – and the whole design was pink (I admit I went to a girl’s school). Math was always one of my favorite subjects and I enjoyed programming, so I started my bachelor’s degree in computer science and communications. At that point in time, I had no idea what my future job would look like and I just thought: “Let’s see where this goes.”
By the start of my master’s degree, I had a student job in data science, and I realized that I wanted to focus on this area. Another internship in that field confirmed that this was exactly what I wanted to do. Having quite a clear idea of your dream job can be a blessing and a curse at the same time. On the one hand you know what you are looking for, but on the other hand you could be disappointed if it does not turn out the way you expected. I love interacting with people and I could never imagine just being “the coding girl” who only likes to work alone in a basement. This was one of the reasons I started my journey as data scientist in consulting. I liked the idea of getting to know different industries and technologies. It was an exciting time and I learned a lot. After two years I decided to move on. I wanted to focus more on machine learning and was keen to accompany the whole model development process until it goes to production.
Today I find myself at Siemens Financial Services (SFS), the financing arm of Siemens. As a Data Scientist at the SFS Discovery Lab I accompany our SFS business on their digitalization journey.
Data science – Why it’s awesome
The headline “Data Scientist – sexiest job of the 21st century” (as described by the Harvard Business Review) might be a bit outdated. I’m not sure if it’s the sexiest job, but I’m pretty sure it is one of the most exciting jobs of our times. The field of AI and especially deep learning is developing very quickly. Advanced technology gives data scientists countless possibilities to use data that no generation before us has had – that’s just awesome. What I love the most about being a data scientist is that you never stop learning. To keep up to date with technical and methodical developments you need to learn new things all the time. Of course, this can be though sometimes, but it is also one of the reasons this field is so exciting. If you are challenged, you never stop learning and you continuously keep making progress; my role in the Discovery Lab in particular allows and motivates me to do so.
Working as a Data Scientist at the Discovery Lab, it is also very important to onboard and involve the people around you and take them with you on this journey. I have seen data science projects fail due to the inability to include future users of a new solution from the very beginning. This doesn’t just apply to data science projects. When we are talking about digitizing our business it is important that we do it jointly with our business. Otherwise, you might end up with a very fancy and shiny solution that will not fit the users’ needs and will therefore never be used in production.
What is so special about the SFS Discovery Lab?
During one of our internal team workshops, we developed our SFS Discovery Lab purpose – a slogan that basically summarizes our mission:
We jointly discover digital innovations to inspire people to envision the way we do business in future
I want to highlight the terms jointly and inspire as keywords in that slogan.
Our job is to design by applying an agile approach and build digital solutions that bring improvements and innovations to SFS businesses, e.g., automating current processes, increasing prediction quality or providing a digital assistant for special tasks. But in the end, this is not the only reason we exist. At least as important (if not more) is our mission to spread the digital mindset within our organization. I think it is super important that people get an idea of what could be achieved (especially regarding the development of new innovative ideas) by working together and using new technologies.
When we do a project with one of our businesses, we work together starting from the idea creation up until a first MVP (Minimum Viable Product). It is crucial that both parties understand the other’s doing, have a mutual understanding of the goal and have the possibility to influence the solution during the development phase. As a result, not only is there a new solution, but also everyone gains new insights and learns something new. This brings value that no purchased out of the box solution could ever bring to the organization. One of my most valuable findings during my first year in the Lab was just how important this is. (Besides having fun in what you do and not to take yourself to seriously 😊)
A team where sharing means caring
Since we are not the only team that is working on digitization topics within Siemens, it is also important to have good internal communication. I am happy to see more and more initiatives emerging within Siemens promoting collaboration across various Siemens entities and departments. Recently, we had a Siemens Lab exchange session where people from different Labs at Siemens came together and talked about various possibilities to collaborate and co-create. I remember one person saying to another: “We would copy from you with pride”. I believe this is a great mindset because it shows an openness and willingness to share and collaborate, and therefore be more efficient. This is one of the many benefits of being part of such a big organization like Siemens.
Do you also want to be part of this big organization? Learn more about our Digital Minds at Siemens and find your future role on: www.siemens.com/careers/digitalminds