Female data scientists steer Telkom digital revolution


Ops specialist, Tsholo Madi

JOHANNESBURG, (CAJ News) TELKOM has committed to training and hiring female data scientists to address the gender divide in the technology field.

This is part of the telecommunications firm’s digital revolution as it applies the power of data to solve organisational and societal problems.

Women data scientists are said to be in the vanguard of this drive, bringing their skills to bear on the diversified company’s innovative, digital-first focus.

The data science revolution has also been an opportunity to drive Telkom’s Female Leadership Development Programme (FLDP), creating opportunities for dozens of women across the organisation with wide experience across adjacent sectors.

Through the Telkom Foundation, the company is also helping to develop the next generation of data scientists, by encouraging learners – girls and young women as well as male learners – to follow careers in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) fields.

Tsholo Madi, an ops specialist: data science has been part of the FLDP, having changed careers after working as a cost and management accountant and an events entrepreneur.

“While I was running my events company, I read that data science was likely to be the sexiest profession of the 21st century,” Madi said.

“I knew I had to be part of that. My husband works in the IT space, and he encouraged me to study coding. That was my first step towards a data science career.

According to experts, data science can help companies to maximise revenues, build business strategies and communicate to their stakeholders by visualising data in clear, compelling ways.

“Our role as data scientists is to add value; to help find data-driven solutions and process improvements,” Madi explained.

Jess Ferguson, a fellow data scientist, is also part of the Telkom women’s leadership programme.

Ferguson became a data scientist after a successful career as an occupational therapist.

“My goal is to use occupational science within my data science role to work at a societal level, to improve how people live, work and play,” she explained.

Ferguson pointed out technology is a more male-dominated industry.

“That’s not a secret, but we do have several strong women in our team,” she said.

FLDP is a year-long intensive programme run by the University of Cape Town (UCT) Graduate School of Business.

– CAJ News


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