Nisha Muthukumaran - Student Spotlight

Professional Goals 

Data Science is an art and there are many solutions to one problem. I want to excel as a Data Scientist and with what I do in this space, I want to be able to attack a problem in every possible way. I picture a career path which deals majorly with handling data and predictive modeling and become a Chief Data Officer in the future. It’s amazing how plain numbers and strings can predict a whole company’s future and drive their profits or losses. I believe that Data Science is the present and future. 

Analytics Project During the Program 

I had the opportunity of working with healthcare data which was a reviving exposure to me because I spent my whole childhood at my mom’s office, who is a Doctor, and financial data. I worked with the Elliot Hospital team, using the Monte Carlo method to arrive at the solution. We found ways to improve the fall index assessment method using the John Hopkins Fall Risk Assessment Tool, which the fall index is originally computed. 

I also worked with the Darling Consulting Group to predict commercial loan pre-payments. The rolling prediction model that we developed using Neural Networks and Random Forest methods, showed what variables are important to predict loan prepayments and helped in predicting which loan accounts would prepay before others.  

Read more about my projects here

My Background 

I entered the field of engineering with my undergraduate degree and specialized in Electronics and Communication Engineering. Building bots with the help of microprocessors became a hobby under my dad’s supervision. This passion was innate as my dad is also an Engineering professor at a University back in India.  
 
I was also interested in the finance industry and was curious about how and why money had its ebbs and flows. Right after my graduation I joined Fidelity Investments. I continued working with Fidelity for 4 years before stepping into the M.S. program here. This was a stepping stone in the right direction because it helped build my foundation in analytical thinking.  
 
I used to take an Uber to work every day which gave me access to a lot of data and I built my own model to predict rates based on location and timings. I started off in the IT space and had the opportunity to work on every role in the projects, right from that of a developer to a business analyst. During my stint at Fidelity I also worked with top auditing firms and other financial giants. I was fascinated with the process of automation and I excelled at it. The next leap was to experiment with data and what other way to do this but with a Master’s program to show the way and a degree as a prize at the end of it! 
 

What have you found valuable about the M.S. program? 

The program has students from various backgrounds; this diversity promotes a blend of unique mindsets and different ways of thinking. This helped me develop a more out-of-the-box way of thinking and approach to life’s challenges.  
The professors are very supportive and approachable and are always around to give us the right amount of push to motivate us and make us perform better.  

The topics taught during the program cover upcoming and recent technologies. This helps when you have a discussion or attend lectures from people in the same field, one feels up to date on developments in the industry.   

As a part of the practicum projects with big companies, we got to experience the life of a Data Scientist and provide real-time solutions to these companies, all while studying! 

Connect with Nisha on LinkedIn.

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