Wednesday, 20 February 2019 05:10

Bankwest launches programs to retain data science talent in WA

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Pieter Vorster: “For too long highly skilled and capable STEM graduates have picked up their degrees from university, packed their bags and jumped on a plane out of Perth," Pieter Vorster: “For too long highly skilled and capable STEM graduates have picked up their degrees from university, packed their bags and jumped on a plane out of Perth," Supplied

Western Australian financial institution Bankwest has set up data science programs for both interns and graduates in what it says is a bid to boost the data science community in the state.

The six-week program for interns kicked off in January and the first four graduates joined the six-week graduate development program this week, a statement from the bank, which is a division of Commonwealth Bank, said.

Bankwest executive general manager of Customer Solutions and Insights, Pieter Vorster, said the programs had been devised to use data science and analytics to deliver products that would meet customers' needs.

“As part of a growing focus on being an insight led business, we're turning our attention to helping develop home-grown talent and increase the size of the data science community here in WA," he said.

The first two interns, Nazanin Sabooniha and Tim Howat, are studying for master's degrees in Perth and will spend six weeks with Bankwest's data science team.

bank west people

Bankwest's new data science graduates: Jonathon Kok, Brayden Calzada, Tim Howat, and Jack McDonald.

Said Sabooniha: "I came to Bankwest hoping to use the knowledge and skills I've learned at university to put something into practice in the real-world environment. And just a couple of weeks in I’m already doing this. It's great to be able to apply the theory to something real and see it work."

Howat added: "I wanted to make the connection between what we’ve learned at university and how that’s applied in a real work scenario. Also, for Bankwest and this industry, I wanted to experience applying these skills to create value, enabling possibilities for customers.”

The new Bankwest graduates will spend two years with the bank's data science team, rotating through different areas of specialisation. After that, they will be able to apply for permanent roles at Bankwest.

“For too long highly skilled and capable STEM graduates have picked up their degrees from university, packed their bags and jumped on a plane out of Perth, taking their skills and abilities with them," said Vorster.

“To lose those kind of skills to Sydney and Melbourne or overseas cities is not good for Perth, the state’s economy or the business community.”

Photos: courtesy Bankwest

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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