Meeting with Chirine Wolley, Data Scientist at Safran Analytics
What is your mission within Safran Analytics?
Chirine Wolley: Today, a large quantity of data is available in Safran. These data come from connected machines in our production lines or from our products during flight for example. Safran companies (Safran Landing Systems, Safran Aircraft Engines, etc.) need specialized support to take advantage of the immense wealth of this data.
As a Data Scientist, my role is to analyze data according to their context. We do this first by interacting with the business teams to better understand the issues they deal with and therefore to draw relevant conclusions. Then, based on the results of our analyses, we make recommendations for improvements and participate in the definition of the action plan.
For these projects, the Data Scientist very often works closely with Data Engineers and Software Engineers. They help us to use and choose the data analysis platforms and digital tools adapted to the problems being dealt with, and then assist us in putting them into production.
What qualifications did you need to become a Data Scientist?
C. W.: I came through university: after a bachelor's degree in mathematics, I did a master's in statistical probability. Then I did a doctorate in applied mathematics, followed by a one-year post-doc* at Telecom ParisTech.
I have worked a lot in research laboratories, particularly in the medical field.
What qualities are required for your profession?
C. W.: Above all, you must know how to analyze and synthesize! But you must also be able to communicate with the business teams, with whom we are constantly in contact: they have a problem to resolve and most importantly know their business inside out, which is absolutely essential to properly interpret the data.
I think you also need to be curious, because the methods and tools we use are constantly evolving, and if you don't pay attention, you can quickly get left behind.
Finally, it's important to be creative and to ask yourself the right questions so that you can support the businesses in analyzing the data.
What do you like most about your job?
C. W.: The fact that the profession is constantly evolving makes it possible to test new tools, so you
never get bored. Being a data scientist also lets you work in very various contexts such as medicine, finance, aerospace and so on. This is very enriching for one's career.
There is also a mix between technology and human relations: you need a strong foundation in statistical mathematics, but at the same time you must know how to explain what you are doing. You're not sitting in front of a computer, on your own.
Where do you see yourself in a few years?
C. W.: It's hard to say at the moment, because I've only been at Safran for six months. Previously I was doing research, and the business world works quite differently. For the moment, I am still in the phase of understanding the field issues being raised by the companies, and I have to continue developing my project management skills: yet another new aspect of my profession!
* A post-doc or postdoctoral researcher works for a fixed period in a research laboratory.