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Start Up: Interview with Tanmaiyii Rao

In the Start Up series, we interview influential figures of data science to discover how they first broke into the industry.
Tanmaiyii Rao is Sales Engineer at Snowflake, where she specialises in enabling customers to leverage their data and realise value. Tanmaiyii’s prior roles include Customer Engineer Specialist at Google and Consultant at KPMG UK.
We asked Tanmaiyii to tell us about her journey into data science, her key career decisions, and the challenges she overcame. She reflects on the changing face of data science and the obstacles that remain for women and women of colour in the industry:

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My path into tech was unconventional. I originally pursued a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting, Finance & Economics, with the intention of obtaining a Masters in Finance and landing a quantitative role at an investment bank. However, after much soul searching, I decided on a masters in Data Science. This was tough initially due to my lack of computer science background, but my thesis on detecting biomarkers for Parkinson’s disease motivated me to keep going and persevere. After completing my Master’s degree, I joined KPMG UK as a consultant.

During my time at KPMG, I worked on multiple projects across various data pillars, including data engineering, business intelligence, data science, and cloud. This allowed me to develop a holistic and comprehensive view of the data journey, picking up new skills in SQL, R, PowerBI, Star Schema dimensional modelling, VBA, and creating machine learning (ML) models for location analytics in R, Python, and building on Azure. I also worked across different industries, such as retail, healthcare, and supply chain, to name a few.

In addition to technical and industry knowledge, I learned the untaught soft skills that you tend to pick up when you start working in the fast-paced consulting environment. Working with some really good people, and having a super supportive mentor who played an instrumental role in guiding and shaping my early career was a valuable experience.

I still remember their advice:
“Sometimes you need to be patient and do things that you do not necessarily enjoy in order to get to where you want to be or do what you like”.

This struck a chord with me, and even though it was tough at the time, in hindsight, I fully relate to it. In the corporate world or life in general, you’ll go through moments that make you question why and what you’re doing. But it’s essential to do things that are out of your comfort zone, or that seem monotonous, in order to reach your desired destination.

For more of Tanmaiyii’s insights into navigating a career in data science, read the article in full over on our magazine: https://issuu.com/datasciencetalent/docs/the_data_scientist_mag_issue_4_final

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