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a day in the life of mokgeseng ramaisa, data scientist

We caught up with Mokgeseng Ramaisa to find out what he does as a data scientist.

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What do you do as a data scientist?

I dig into the trends and behaviours we find in data. I make sense of trends and use them to make predictions. A big part of my job involves working closely with data to help inform strategies, understand what’s happened and predict what’s to come.

It's basically like sorting through a jumbled-up pile of blocks to build a house. The best part is that the house we build may be used to create a bigger and better house in the future.

What does a typical day look like for you?

I try to start my day with a run before heading into the office. I prefer working in the office than at home, and I think that’s helped me in my career journey. Collaborating with my colleagues in person has helped me learn so much quicker.

After coffee, I start my day by checking emails and planning my tasks. I usually jump straight into analysis or any other pressing jobs for the morning. I aim to make time for lunch away from my desk because I believe breaks are important. Afternoons usually involve meetings with my team, brainstorming sessions, preparing for presentations and getting feedback from my team leader and manager.

When did you start at Capitec?

I joined Capitec in January 2021, shortly after graduating from Stellenbosch University. During the second year of my degree I saw a notice on our department’s website for the Capitec External Bursary Programme. I applied and was successful.

Why did you join Capitec?

My bursary came with a one-year contract at Capitec after I finished my honours degree. I was surprised, however, when I received a permanent job offer after that year!

I’ve had a bank account with Capitec for the past 7 years and have watched the brand grow, improve and push innovation. I knew I’d enjoy every challenge, opportunity and experience working at Capitec, and I have.

Which team do you work within at Capitec?

I work in the Creative Decision Science department where we build credit products across the life cycle. I specifically work with strategies to help people better manage their accounts and credit. I enjoy working through our client insights to find out how they behave.

What makes Capitec a great place to work?

People and their opinions are really valued here. There’s also a lot of knowledge sharing, which means people are always keen to help you develop and grow within your career. We work towards shared goals, so it’s never a competition to be better than someone else. It’s a great environment in which to just be yourself and share your ideas. I never feel as though I must act in a certain way or be someone I’m not.

What excites you about the work you do?

Definitely that I’m faced with different problems every week. I enjoy the fact that I’m not solving the same kind of problem every day. There’s always a new challenge and opportunity, which means I’m never stagnating in my work and career growth.

How would you describe the Capitec culture and work environment?
It's fast paced! At Capitec we focus on building products and systems for our clients as quickly as possible so that they can enjoy the benefits. When we’re working on something that we know is going to help our clients, it’s always all hands on deck, which I really love. Capitec is a learning and sharing environment in which collaboration is encouraged and celebrated.

What skills do you need to be a great data scientist?

From a technical point of view, you need a strong background in statistics and mathematics. It’s also important that you’re able to critically understand a problem before you jump into finding a solution. I believe anyone can solve a problem, but not everyone understands what the problem is. The ability to persevere and fail quickly, and then learn from that failure is also important.

What advice would you give graduates who are figuring out their next step in life?

Try as many things as you can while you’re still young as now’s the best time to fail and learn quickly. As you progress in your career and become more senior in your role, you’re expected to know what you're doing. Don't be afraid to question how things have been done before – be curious.

What did you study?
I started with a Bachelor of Commerce in mathematical statistics, mathematics and financial mathematics. I completed my BCom honours in mathematical statistics and probability, and I’m currently working on my masters – also in mathematical statistics.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

I thought about going into backstage technical theatre when I was a kid. I took drama in high school and really enjoyed the technical backstage part of it.

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