My graduate story Joe Russell
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The opportunity of a graduate placement is the pinnacle for many graduates with the ability to gain invaluable experience in a chosen industry.  A great first step into the world of work, a placement provides the ability to learn and showcase a wide variety of skills across an organisation and shape your future career.

Joe Russell, has recently graduated from Mango’s graduate recruitment scheme and is now continuing along Mango’s career path to becoming a fully-fledged Data Scientist. In this blog he shares his experience of the placement and advice for future graduates.

“I graduated with a Maths degree from Bath University.  I have always been fascinated by figures and statistics from a young age. My parents would purchase the Sunday Times every week, from which I would steal the Culture section, in order to record the top viewed TV programmes. I suppose I was intrigued by the data and understanding the reasons why figures would fluctuate week on week.”

“I became aware of Mango while searching for a yearlong placement during University and was fortunate enough to be chosen. I had garnered some basic R and statistics knowledge through my course; however, I was astounded by just how much knowledge and experiences I was exposed to almost immediately after joining Mango.”

“The team at Mango welcomed me immediately with open arms and exposed me to a variety of new learning experiences.  In the main, I supported a team validating R packages. This work exposed me to the array of functionality R provides through various packages and demonstrated all the benefits and possibilities of using open source software. Prior to my placement, data science was just a term I had heard but not really thought much about.  My knowledge deepened and I was fascinated by the opportunities and many facets a career in Data Science could offer.”

“Mango launched their Graduate Placement Scheme in 2019 and I was fortunate enough to be one of the chosen graduates on the scheme. A year-long training course followed with exposure of data science projects, training and even presenting to fellow R practitioners at LondonR and Bristol Data Scientists meetings. I am honestly astounded when looking back at just what I have achieved during the year. A year of working as an integral member of the ValidR team gave me immense satisfaction and confidence. I was also given the opportunity to contribute towards Mango’s training programme, presenting training courses to numerous cohorts, delivering our popular Introduction to R course, as well as more advanced courses such as Data Visualisation. I am very much a learner by doing, and Mango’s approach of encouraging consultants to push their comfort zone has been invaluable in my progression.”

“For me, one of the year’s highlights has undoubtedly been the projects and expertise I have been exposed to, as well as working alongside our Consultants. Attending last years’ EARL conference was a highlight – the quality of the talks and networking opportunities are incredible.  As for my future, I am keen to embrace further opportunities and take on more responsibility within the company.  Consultancy presents a fast track exposure to working across sectors with the benefit of not being siloed into one area of expertise.  Machine Learning particularly excites me with wide ranging opportunities, from diagnosing cancer to optimising deliveries.”

When asked what tips and advice he would give to our new graduate intake, Joe said: “Throw yourself in, take every opportunity you can and be open minded.  It will be a whirlwind of a year, take the opportunities presented and the benefits will be there.  Keep a logbook so you can look back on your journey – you’ll be amazed!”.

Mango welcomes their next graduate intake in September.

Jen Wilkins, Head of Talent & Development at Mango:

“The grad scheme is something that we’re really proud of.  It’s evolving year on year and has proven to be a great way to bring new talent into our business – in fact, I was part of a grad scheme myself at 21.  As we embark on the start of this year’s graduate intake, I have to say how super impressed we’ve been by the curiosity, desire and general awesomeness of the graduates that we’ve hired.”

#thrivewithMango

Ask the Expert: Accurate vs fair data science A-level playing field?
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Algorithms have never been more publicly debated than in the last couple of weeks. As data science experts, it didn’t come as a surprise to us that an algorithm was used by the government to aid in the grading of students’ A-level grades in this extraordinary year. The use of data science to set (or help set) grades is, in principle, a sound idea. What did surprise us was the way in which the algorithm was developed and communicated to students and the public. This was likely a key factor in why so many people across the country were dissatisfied with the results it generated.

It all comes back to a question of ethics and empathy. Data science is most likely one of the last subjects where empathy would seem important. However, it’s this misinterpretation that often leads to the breakdown of data science projects – the model works, but does it consider the problem from the right perspective? Is it answering the right question? After all, empathy isn’t just about compassion or sympathy, it’s the ability to see a situation from someone else’s frame of reference.

So, in this instance, the A-level algorithm may have worked technically (without access to the detailed workings or results of the model we can’t say), insofar that it produced results accurate at the overall population level in comparison to previous years’ results. However, was the question of empathy taken into account, and therefore was accuracy the right thing to be aiming for?

We asked our Deputy Director of the data science consulting team, Dave Gardner, for his thoughts on the use of data science in assessing school performance:

“Without being privy to either the detailed results the algorithm generated, or the process by which is was built, it is impossible to say exactly what went wrong. We can however examine some of the decisions that we do know were made from the point of view of empathic and ethical data science.

“If part of your objective is to produce a set of results as similar as possible to that of previous years then the idea of incorporating past school performance to your algorithm does have some merit. Speaking from a purely technical perspective it’s a reasonable path to take – some schools may be optimistic, pessimistic, or interpret guidelines in different ways.

“The core issue however wasn’t with the algorithm’s accuracy at the population level, but with its (perceived) fairness at an individual level. Whether it is fair to give students a set of grades calculated by an algorithm to be the most likely outcome of a normal exam process, based partly on historic performance at the school level, isn’t a question data science can answer. However, it absolutely should have been a question it asked.

“Similarly the decision not to incorporate teacher’s predicted grades was clearly contentious but the thinking behind this decision was not well explained, and appeared to have been made without consultation with the right stakeholders.

“Had the explicit focus been on generating the fairest possible set of results for each individual (for the right definition of fairest) then I suspect we would have ended up with a very different, and much better received, algorithm.”

It’s no secret that there has been some amazing work done through the power of data science and analytics – but the lesson to be learnt here is the importance of understanding that there is a difference between accurate and fair data science, and at the end of the day, empathy is key.

Author: Dave Gardner, Deputy Director, Mango Solutions

going pro blog
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Becoming a professional athlete isn’t just about pure talent and hoping that will be enough to excel. Going pro means setting out a clear plan and following through with sustained training, the right nutrition, coaching and support. Not to mention an incredible amount of discipline and determination to get the most from your talent!

In a similar way for businesses, becoming data-driven can’t depend solely on investing in a data project and hoping it will succeed.  Typically, organisations have similar challenges to amateur athletes in that they are successfully trying aspects of analytics with notable successes, but just cannot withstand the test of time to be repeatable, scalable and consistent. Or, they simply don’t know where to start with analytics to achieve maximum deliverable insight. This tends to have a knock-on effect, causing concerns over stakeholder buy-in, with the result that the analytics team continues as a siloed entity with sporadic projects and no guarantee of consistency of approach across the organisation. They fail to make the transition from talented amateur to pro athlete and so great talent is wasted as funding and enthusiasm runs dry.

As the role of analytics becomes more strategically important to the business, it becomes necessary to follow a standardised process for delivery. As part of this, business leaders need to ensure that initiatives meet business objectives and that there is consistency in delivery and prioritisation, as well as in the platforms and technologies used.  To move forward, you have to evaluate where you are, what needs to be put in place to succeed, and enable the transition to implementation and data-driven value. In other words, you need to go pro in analytics.

It sounds easy enough. But as most pro athletes know very well, taking the leap from amateur to pro warrants a whole new game plan, and then sticking to it – a rather daunting prospect for most of us. The good news is that Mango can help! As experts in data science and analytics, we’ve honed in on the key pillars of a data-driven transformation and drawn up a 5-step game plan aimed at helping you to scan and audit what your business has in place, identifying what’s needed, and where to focus next. Here’s a snapshot of how it works.

Join our webinar

If you’d like to find out more, why not join our webinar Going Pro in Analytics: Lessons in Data Science Operational Excellence where Deputy Director at Mango, Dave Gardner and Mango Account Director Ian Cassley discuss what organisations need to do to ‘go pro’ with their analytical platforms, capabilities, and processes once the limitations of sticking plaster solutions and ‘quick and dirty’ approaches start to bite:

Register Now

EARL Conference 2020
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Sadly, we cannot meet in-person for the EARL Conference this year, so we’ve decided to go virtual with an online version of EARL with VirtuEARL 2020.

During the first two weeks of October, we will be hosting 4 workshops with a wrap of VirtuEARL taking place on Friday 16th October with a full day of fantastic presentations from some brilliant industry speakers.

 

What is EARL all about?

The Enterprise Applications of the R Language Conference is a cross-sector conference focusing on the commercial usage of the R programming language. If you use R in your organisation, then EARL will have something for you and your team.

 

How will the conference work online?

VirtuEARL will be hosted on Zoom – which has become an incredibly popular platform for online video calls. Once you have purchased tickets to the parts of VirtuEARL you would like to join, you will be sent the Zoom meeting details. When it’s time for the event, simply click on the meeting link and enjoy! You can ask questions directly to our workshop hosts and presenters by using your microphone or typing a question. The workshops and the presentations will be recorded so if you miss anything on the day or would like to re-watch something afterwards you will have access to the recordings to do so.

 

What’s on the agenda?

Workshops announced so far are;

You can find the agenda for the Friday presentation day here.

 

How much will it cost?

All profits from VirtuEARL 2020 will be donated to ‘Data for Black Lives’.

We recognise that are not able to offer the full EARL package that we usually have – and we’ll miss all the networking! – so our prices this year will reflect this.

The Workshops:

Our half-day workshops are usually priced at £200  – but for this years’ VirtuEARL, we are pleased to offer our half-day workshops at a price of £90.

The speaker day:

The speaker presentation day will carry a minimal charge of £9.99 – we have a Zoom capacity of 300 people for Friday’s session and we want to ensure the maximum amount of people can enjoy VirtuEARL!

 

Where can I get tickets?

You can purchase your tickets here

dataiq awards best data & analytics team
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Earlier this month we were delighted to discover that Mango Solutions had been shortlisted for the 2020 Data IQ  ‘Best Data & Analytics Team (Enabler)‘ award. We’ve always said the secret of Mango’s success is our people and this acknowledgment represents much valued recognition of our team of data professionals and their talent, service excellence, business value and innovation generated from data.

As a data science consultancy, we’ve been helping businesses deliver value from data for 18 years. Home to 35 data scientists who have more than 200 years commercial data science experience expertise between them, there is no doubt that we’ve managed to hone the perfect Analytics team, based on an ethos of true collaboration, expertise and delivering instrumental value for our customers.

The team is continually dedicated to delivering the highest possible customer experience, supported by our best practice framework and agile project management, which has certainly helped continue our exemplary levels of service, without impact, over the recent se challenging few months.

Extra special congratulations also go to Rich Pugh who has been shortlisted for the ‘Data & Analytics Leader of the Year (Enabler)‘ award. This year has seen some challenging business conditions, but Rich Pugh’s natural leadership qualities have continued to inspire his peers, colleagues, customers and the broader community alike – reinforcing his integrity, passion and authenticity as a natural leader.

Congratulations once again to both Mango’s Data Science team and Rich Pugh for reaching their respective Data IQ shortlists; we very much look forward to attending the online awards ceremony on 30th September.

 

EARL logo
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What is EARL?

The Enterprise Applications of the R Language Conference (EARL) is a cross-sector conference focusing on the commercial use of the R programming language. The conference is dedicated to the real-world usage of R with some of the world’s leading practitioners.

Who is it For?

If you use R in your organisation, the EARL Conference is for you and your team. Whether you’re coding, wrangling data, leading a team of R users, or making data-driven decisions, EARL offers insights you can action in your company.

Why Attend?

The best in the business present their real-world projects, ideas and solutions at EARL each year and it’s the perfect opportunity to see how others are using R in production.

 

“Fantastic conference. EARL never lets me down in providing an insightful, applicable and fun experience to learn from other companies on how they apply R in their enterprises.”

 

If you’re considering submitting an abstract to present at future EARL events – and need a little more persuading, here are eight reasons why you should apply to present:

1. Networking

EARL attracts over 300 delegates from a huge range of industries. We make sure to provide plenty of opportunities for you to connect with your fellow R users. If that sounds daunting – don’t worry – plenty of delegates attend solo and we are delighted that EARL attracts such a welcoming and friendly crowd. As a speaker, networking will be easier as people will recognise you and have plenty of questions about your session.

2. Increase your professional experience

Many of our selected speakers have only presented a handful of times, and some never. If you have been aiming to increase your presenting experience, then EARL is the perfect venue. Our audiences are both appreciative and attentive and always have questions to ask – and it’s a great experience to add to your CV.

3. Help Others 

The R community is well known for being wonderfully inclusive, supportive and generous. So it’s nice to be able to contribute and help others. Presenting on your challenges and  your solutions will definitely help others, even if they work in completely different industries.

4. Refine your ideas

As we all know, projects don’t always go to plan, by sharing your commercial usage of R you might get advice or tips from the audience to take away.

5. Promote you

As a speaker you will get 30 minutes to share your work. EARL can give you a platform to share what you do with people from different industries and varying sizes of company.

6. Free Ticket

As a selected speaker you will get a free ticket for the day of your presentation along with a free ticket for our Wednesday night conference networking event*.

7. Be the Best Boss

If you head up a team and encourage a team member to submit a talk, they will enjoy a great conference and return with a sense of pride at having shared your team’s work and inspired by all that they’ve learned.

8. Have fun! 

Sharing your passion for R with a room full of like-minded people makes for a great environment; by sharing what you know you will be starting plenty of conversations. The networking events are a great place to celebrate your presentation and have a good time!

For more information about #EARLconf visit our Event page.