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Alumni Interview : Joanna Morais, Avisia

Alumni experience



This interview was published and carried out by the TSEconomist.

What is your position today ?

 I  am  currently  working  as  a  Data  Scientist  Consultant  at  Avisia  in  Bordeaux.  Avisia  is  a  French  consulting  company  created  in  2007.  Originally  based  in  Paris,  it  now  has  agencies  in  Nantes,  Lyon, and more recently in Bordeaux. I carry out projects ranging from a few weeks to several months, during which I accompany clients on various subjects to explain or predict phenomena, using statistical methods and data science. I have several missions, including, for example, predicting eleva-tor failures, the departure of customers from the competition or whether a borrower will default, determining the customers most likely to be interested in an offer, explaining the market shares of car  brands  according  to  their  media  investments,  and  creating  customer segmentation according to their uses and preferences.  In  parallel  with  the  missions  at  the  client’s  site,  I  am  involved  in a number of transversal projects in my company. Those projects  consist  in,  inter  alia,  participating  in  an  image  recognition  project through deep learning, implementing a communication and knowledge sharing tool, organising an internal data science hackathon, and recruitment.  I also give a Marketing Econometrics course to  Master students in Statistics and Econometrics, which is a very applied course. It is  an  activity  I  particularly  appreciate;  it  is  a  pleasure  for  me  to  be able to give students an idea of what concretely awaits them in the professional world,  especially for data scientist positions.

What was your path from your Master’s graduation to this current  post,  and  what  are  the  key  elements  which  helped  making  your choice? 

I met the company Avisia at the Business Networking Day during  my  first  year  of  Master  in  Economics  and  Statistics  at  TSE.  The  following  summer  I  did  a  three-month  internship  there;  it  confirmed  my  interest  in  using  quantitative  methods  based  on  real data to understand customer behaviors. I  graduated  in  2014  and  met  another  company,  BVA,  a  French  market  research  and  consulting  institute.  With  three  other  students,  I  carried  out  a  project  with  BVA  for  six  months:  the  objective  was  to  analyse  the  impact  of  media  investments  on  the  market shares of car brands.I then completed my final internship at INBOX, another consulting firm I met at the BND. BVA came back to me afterwards to offer  me  the  opportunity  to  continue  the  student  project  I  had  been involved in as part of a CIFRE thesis the French denomination for a thesis financed by a company. This thesis was a wonderful three-year experience. I was able to evolve within the company while having a research activity and very strong ties with the academic world, and in particular with TSE, since my thesis directors were Christine Thomas-Agnan and Michel Simioni.  Something I also loved were the conference trips abroad (in Prague, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Chicago, Siena, ...); I met some very nice people, and improved my English! Moreover I  won  a  prize  for  the  best  oral  presentation  at  an  international  conference,  and  the  Paul  Sabatier  prize  for  the  best  thesis  in  mathematics. This shows that corporate research has nothing to be ashamed of  compared to purely academic research!I then stayed one year at BVA as a data scientist consultant. I was in  charge  of  developing  and  leading  an  internal  community  of  about  20  statisticians  -  methodological  sheets,  trainings,  events  -  and  the  external  development  of  the  Data  Intelligence  offer.  I  also  supervised  a  TSE  student  on  a  project  to  predict  customer  satisfaction. Moving  from  a  doctoral  student  status  to  being  an  employee  is not such an easy step : I quickly wanted a new challenge. I left for Quantmetry - after being co-opted by a TSE alumni - a leading Parisian  data  science  consulting  firm,  where  I  was  able  to  im-prove my technical skills by working closely with data engineers on industrialisation projects. Some  personal  plans  led  me  to  leave  Quantmetry  and  to  move  to  Bordeaux,  which  coincided  with  Avisia’s  desire  to  open  an  agency there. 

According to your professional experience, what are the most useful skills you obtained during your degree?

 Economics has given me a way of thinking about problems and understanding  them.  The  very  applied  Master  2  courses  with  many  projects  -  in  groups  or  individually  -  the  oral  presentations,  programming  on  R  or  Python,  and  professional  speakers  are  great  assets  for  professional  integration.  They  prepare  relatively well for the reality of the labour market. The existence of an alternative track for the M2 Statistics and Econometrics is, in my opinion, also very good. The TSE network has been very useful to me at all stages of my professional  career,  whether  for  internships,  for  my  thesis,  or  to  find  a  job.  I  am  now  very  proud  to  be  able  to  maintain  this  link  with  the  new  generations  through  the  course  I  give  to  M2  students.

What advice would you like to give to TSE students, or to the school? 

My  advice  for  students  would  be  to  really  get  involved  in  the  projects they have to carry out - especially group projects - because this is by far what will best involve them in real life, and it will be an asset for job interviews. My advice for TSE would be to maintain or even to further increase school-business relations, whether through the BND,  professional speakers, or research collaborations with companies. 

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