Alumni Stories: Pursuing a Career in Data

By BrainStation September 27, 2019

Meet Ali Mahmood, Senior Analyst, Data Insights & Analytics for Loblaw Companies Limited and a graduate of BrainStation’s Data Science Diploma Program

We chatted with Ali about his experience in the diploma program and how it led him to his current role in data. 

Data Science student

BrainStation: Can you tell us a bit about your education and career background before BrainStation?

Ali: My background is quite unique. I studied a double major in Chemistry and Biology at the University of Toronto before pursuing a postgraduate Bioinformatics program. In the months between completing that program and starting my career in data I worked on a full stack development project as well.

What was your motivation to take the Data Science Program? What factors influenced your decision?

I am a continuous learner and strongly believe in constant upskilling. Technology is advancing at such an incredible rate that falling behind on this education will leave you fighting to get back on the ladder. Being someone who likes to learn across various subject areas, pursuing a career in data science came rather naturally to me since it’s a profession that can be applied to everything.

Tell us about your learning experience at BrainStation.

The learning environment was very warming and encouraging. It was a pleasure coming to class and learning from instructors who had valuable and relevant experience. I went home every day having learned something new and beneficial. The work around, and including, Demo Day was definitely a top highlight for me since I could display work done on a project I felt passionate about – while learning about other projects that my fellow students had worked hard on as well. 

What were some of the most valuable skills you gained during the program? 

The most valuable skills were definitely the specific technical skills you would expect to learn coming into this program. The project experiences really cemented my understanding of key concepts and served as great additions to my data portfolio. I was able to showcase my skills using various machine learning models, including more advanced Deep Learning algorithms.

How did you find the Career Support experience at BrainStation throughout the program and once you graduated?

The support is always there when needed. They have even reached out to me to check on my job search, directed me to potential leads, and offered to provide feedback on my resume and portfolio.

You had previously worked in a Data Analyst role, how did the Data Science program further your skill set and data capabilities?

I learned various tools, techniques, and strategies that I didn’t have before, and the program has completely changed the way I view data. I can now understand and even recommend data science solutions while having the confidence to build them myself, which is something I find extremely rewarding.

You now work as a Senior Analyst for Loblaw Companies Limited, can you tell us more about this role and what a typical day looks like?

While I can’t share the specifics of what I’m working on, currently, my role involves a lot of meetings and strategy discussion around data. As my current project moves forward, there will be work with cloud-based databases and model building and testing.

It goes without saying that the knowledge I acquired from the BrainStation program has been critical to the value I provide for my new employer. 

What advice would you give to someone looking to pursue a role in data?

I would say that it’s important to remember that understanding data is more than just knowing what the numbers mean. You need to be able to see its meaning and effect in real world applications. Having an open-mind that’s never done learning is the best way to gain these perspectives.