After a decade spent applying the core concepts of computer science across a diverse range of fields, Oluwafemi Fabiyi was looking for his next step.
Fabiyi–a recent graduate of the Master of Science in Analytics (MScA) at the University of Chicago and a new Microsoft employee—began his career contributing to massive software engineering projects in Nigeria, including the development of national Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) and ID card registries. He then went on to apply his skills to large manufacturing operations. Through working in cement manufacturing, flour production, and the oil and gas industry, he learned how just about anything can be automated using computer science.
He then switched over to the business side of operations, working with KPMG as a management consultant before transitioning to their technology advisory team. Hoping to take his data science career to the next level, he started teaching himself the latest technologies in artificial intelligence, machine learning, and robotic process automation. He became a passionate dabbler, picking and choosing the tools he found relevant and interesting, then sharing them with study groups he formed with his colleagues.
The lecturers brought in their own professional experience and points of view across the courses. I have plenty of opportunities to apply both what I learned in the program, as well as the skills I developed earlier in my career. It’s clear to me now that the MScA program was an incredible opportunity to add real value to my earlier experience and knowledge.Oluwafemi Fabiyi, MScA Alumna
“I got to this point where it seemed logical that I’d upskill a little more,” Fabiyi says. “Part of me is always seeking to improve on my present self. Looking back at my previous experience—from software engineering to consulting to the array of industries I’d worked with—I couldn’t help but ask myself, ‘What’s next?’”
From Dabbler To Data Scientist
Fabiyi decided it was time to take a more formal approach to learning new AI and ML capabilities and see what they could do for his career. His search for a data science master's program began.
Soon, Fabiyi decided on the Master of Science in Analytics. He knew the University of Chicago was a top-ranked school with global recognition. He also had friends who spoke highly of their experiences there. When he learned of his acceptance, he was eager to start the program. There was only one hitch: he had to move continents.
“The program helped me a lot,” he says of the journey. “They support you in your transition. Before any of the major coursework started, I was already very well situated.”
From the very start, the depth at which his courses covered the core concepts of data analytics impressed him. In addition to the latest AI and ML tools, he learned the deep fundamentals of data science and the real-world applications of this new knowledge.
“I like to see the light at the end of the tunnel while working; that’s how my thinking process works,” Fabiyi says. “MScA classes culminate in a project that clearly lets you see the application of the concepts being taught. With my eyes always on the goal, I didn’t feel like I was just learning for learning’s sake.”
His admiration for his coursework’s practicality continued for the duration of the program, all the way to his Capstone Project. (That project, “Maintenance and Repair of Power Lines Using Collaborating Robots,” was recognized with an award.) Throughout, he envisioned scenarios in which he would use his new knowledge in the business and consulting worlds.
“I liked how the lecturers brought in their own professional experience and points of view across the courses,” he says. “I could relate to this approach because it connected to my own experience. Aside from just the ML concepts, we’d focus on the differences between reporting to a senior technical audience and a business audience.
“For me, that was very important,” he adds. “The business audience doesn’t need to hear too much about the technical nitty gritty details. They want to see the business value.”
The Road To Big Tech
Fabiyi carefully weighed the steps he would take after graduating from the program. He used the MScA career fairs to hone his interviewing skills and strengthen his resume. A piece of feedback he received served him well when it came to connecting with prospective employers.
“I had a way of formatting my resume that didn’t align with the resume search tool many companies use,” he says. “I was alerted to this fact at a career fair and after adjusting my resume based on that feedback. Facebook, Amazon, Uber, and Google contacted me, so I strongly believe that feedback was really helpful.”
Eager to try his hand at a new industry, Fabiyi looked to big tech hoping he could leverage his background in consulting. After interviewing with the core big tech firms, he accepted an offer from Microsoft. He now works as a senior program manager at the corporate vice president’s office for Azure hardware, infrastructure, and services.
“Those first weeks, taking in everything new, was like drinking water from a fire hose,” he says. “But I’m getting grounded now and it’s going really well. I have plenty of opportunities to apply both what I learned in the program, as well as the skills I developed earlier in my career. It’s clear to me now that the MScA program was an incredible opportunity to add real value to my earlier experience and knowledge.”