Mohamed, Data Analysis Instructor: “The way I see it, the best teachers are lifelong learners”

Published on 06 October 2020

Reading time 6 minutes

Mohamed Warsame is a Data Instructor at Wild Code School. In this interview, we got to know a little more about how he got into Data in the first place, what his journey looked like and what his vision is on the role Data Analysis plays in today’s world!

How would you describe the importance of Data Analysis in the tech world, today?

I would say that Data Analysis is the critical factor that distinguishes successful organizations, whether we’re talking about governments, public sector companies… Even in this COVID-19 pandemic, there are examples to have into consideration. You have governments who are using Machine Learning and Data Analysis to collect data in order to make better decisions. The companies that will come out of the recession caused by COVID-19 will be the ones who can see where they can make the biggest gains and contain the biggest losses. 

Organizations that utilize data have an edge over others, and they are more likely to be successful than organizations that neglect this aspect. In the end of the day, data is information, and in every situation where you have to make decisions, the one with the most information and that can draw the best conclusions from it, is the one who will have an edge in a competitive environment.

What are some underrated aspects of that job that most people don't even think about?

I would have to say that where I think the importance of Data Analysis is underrated is in politics. People think that those with most money and connections end up being more successful, but nowadays more and more politicians are adopting data-driven strategies in order to accomplish their goals.

Politicians with this kind of strategy will be able to focus on where they have a chance and point their resources to where they’ll get the most return. A lot of phenomena in the real world are a numbers game. If you want to win elections, you have to figure out population sizes and to understand where the election will actually be won. This is a question of numbers. Of course, money plays a role, but if you know exactly where to put your money, that will definitely give you an edge over your competitors.

Information is a source of power! And I believe that the world will become more, and more data-led, and people will need to learn how to approach the question of Data. Data awareness will be a very big deal in the future.

What drew you into the world of Data Analytics? How did you start working in this field?

That’s a great question, and it’s something that I’m always asked! I got into the world of Data through my degree program. I studied Economics, and I’ve earned a Master’s of Science in Economics with a specialization in Data Analysis.

Of course, Economics, especially the academic side of it, is very different from the actual industry. Firstly, in the use of technology - many times the software used is not the same. Nowadays, though, more and more universities are using the R framework, for example, and that’s really great because it prepares students and it closes the gap between the academic world and the actual challenges professionals face when working in this area.

But regarding my transition into the world of Data, during my studies, I perceived Economics to be very theoretical, and in my Master’s I slowly started seeing how valuable Data Analysis really is! To see someone’s theory manifest itself in the data, to find evidence and answers to research questions… it kind of blew my mind and opened my eyes to the power of data!

I researched how Data Analysis looks like in the real world, how is it used by companies… is the theory that I was taught in University actually valuable in the industry? And I was very relieved to realize that it was.

What type of job did you do before joining Wild Code School?

Before joining Wild Code School, I was working for a global media agency as a Senior Data Analyst. I was consulting clients and businesses who spent their media investment money with our agency. Our job was to support these clients and sometimes even develop products for them. For instance, I developed a marketing analytics software with a colleague, and we actually got shortlisted for an award!

I worked primarily with Python and SQL, and also R at times, for A/B testing. And that was my role, media analytics is pretty much about analyzing how media investment translates into growth of the business and profitability.

What about teaching? Was it something you always wanted to do?

Yes. I actually have to admit that I had thought about teaching. It’s something that’s in my nature!

I learn by communicating my ideas, it reinforces my knowledge and what I think of it. Teaching is not only just about you imparting something to others but through questions from those who are listening to you, you gain more understanding as well. Unless you are a professor with 30 years of teaching experience, you will always be a flawed teacher - your areas of expertise will be limited.

What do you like the most about teaching?

It’s a great thing to be able to impart whatever expertise you have gained in your journey as a student, at a certain point in time. The way I see it, the best teachers are lifelong learners - that’s my philosophy.

You, as an individual, will always be limited in your understanding and knowledge, and you continuously have to read and expand your horizons to learn more and be a better human being. So, I think the greatest thing about teaching is the love of it! The love of learning, wisdom and knowledge. 

There are tens of thousands of people who are not necessarily teachers, but are professionals in their area and share their knowledge through LinkedIn, or a blog, or whatever other platforms. That’s the love of teaching and learning, and I believe that some people are born with it, some acquire it during their lives.

What would you say to someone who is curious about Data and thinking of enrolling in a Course like the one you teach?

I would say one great thing is that the Data community is really well connected, and it’s connected among continents! I’ve attended meetups with many Data Analysts and Data Scientists, all sharing their knowledge and experience… I would say that the best way to get into the Data world is to go to one of these events. Unfortunately, right now, we’re in a period where social events are not available, but this would definitely be my suggestion (when possible)!

It’s a great way to get to know people who are already being established in this area, and definitely can teach you and, most importantly, inspire you!