Wed Jun 10 2020

X-Pert Insights: Lisanne on choosing her own path to becoming a data scientist

“I look forward to going to work everyday. I enjoy the diversity of my work. Each day is different. I’m able to choose my own path, decide in which direction I want to develop myself.”

When Lisanne Rijnveld set off on the journey that eventually led her to data science and to Xomnia, she didn’t actually have this destination in mind; she was just following her passions. First, she wanted to learn more about the human mind and earned a master’s degree in neuropsychology. During that time, she reconnected with her love for math and statistics. That interest led to a second master’s degree in statistics.

“I loved statistics. But, I didn’t know what you could do with math in the real world besides becoming a researcher or a teacher.”

Lisanne began looking into careers as a data analyst, but her search kept turning up results for data scientists. Curious to know about the possibilities for this new field, she contacted Xomnia.

“At first glance, they appeared to be all about robots and artificial intelligence. But, they also seemed to know about data science. Then I came into the office for a coffee meeting that completely changed my perspective. I recognized a lot of statistics in data science, but also found out about new topics, like neural networks.”

From that moment on, Lisanne knew she wanted to learn more about the field. She joined Xomnia’s junior development program and never looked back.

“My time in the program was a great start in the professional field. I learned so much that year. When the year was over, I knew I wanted to stay longer and keep improving my technical skills.”

Although she’s had to work hard to catch up to the technical level of some of her peers, Lisanne discovered strengths in other areas that have been a valuable asset in her data science projects.

While working with Xomnia’s X-Force project team on a delay prediction model for KLM, Lisanne realised how much she enjoys building a trusting relationship with the client. She also noticed how her psychology background is useful in her approach to solving problems.

“Our technical products often create a different way of working for a business. To ensure they adopt the changes, you must make sure they actually believe in the product. This is a very important part of the project's success,” Lisanne explains.

“The business should be involved from the beginning and have a say in how their knowledge is represented in the model. Employees of the company need to understand how the technology works - that it can help them and isn’t being created just to replace people.”

Lisanne sees herself as a connector, a motivator. She loves inspiring clients in the possibilities of data.

“You see the same struggles in every company. They’re stuck in the pilot phase, unable to see how to let data really add value to their business. I want to be the one to work with them on a strategic level, to develop an organisation into a data-driven organisation.”

In addition to data science consultancy, Lisanne is a trainer in Xomnia’s junior development program and Academy, an external training program. For the latter, she recently became responsible for the organisation of all learning journeys tailored to Data Scientists, Data Engineers, Analytics Translators and Executives.

“I’m able to dive into a variety of very challenging technical projects, while bringing my own personality and energy to them. Plus, I work alongside great colleagues in the heart of Amsterdam. All of this really makes Xomnia feel like home to me.”

Looking back on the road that brought her this dream career, Lisanne says she’s happy that she followed her instincts.

“Pursuing a degree in statistics, before it was really cool or had a big business demand. Being one of the few women in data science at that time. Combining technical skills with my background in psychology - all of these decisions came together in exactly the right way.”

Her advice: “Trust yourself. Your intuition is good.”

Are your skills, passions, and intuition leading you to a career in data science? Want to know more about the Xomnia way of working? Check out our vacancies for data scientists here  And, get in touch with us to learn more over a cup of coffee at our HQ in the heart of Amsterdam.