Students and Alumni

UBC MDS attracts bright minds from a wide range of backgrounds. Find out more about our students and alumni; read about what they were doing prior to joining the program, their experience during the program, and their journey ahead.

Students: MDS Vancouver

Alumni: MDS Vancouver

Student and Alumni Profiles 

Kira Wiese, MDS Okanagan-2019

Kira Wiese, MDS Okanagan – Class of 2019

"I really like that the program is 10-months and all course based. After coming from a degree focused on theory, I was really looking to gain practical knowledge."

Previous Degree: Bachelor of Science – Statistics, University of Calgary
Program: MDS Okanagan – Class of 2019

Growing up in rural Alberta, my first step away from home was pursuing an undergraduate degree at the University of Calgary. With an analytical but also creative personality, I was unsure of which path was my best fit. It was not until I completed my first statistics course that I started to see the applications of data analysis – whether it was in health care or agriculture, or anything, really. I gained a firm theoretical knowledge of statistics, but still wanted to see the real-world outcomes of my numbers. In the MDS program I’m getting the more practical training—the programming and the real-world applications—to accompany my theoretical knowledge.  

About Kira Wiese

Originally from Medicine Hat, Alberta, Kira got her undergraduate degree in statistics, with a minor in actuarial science, from the University of Calgary. Having excelled there, she began looking for career paths that would let her put her love of numbers to practical and important use. A fellow undergraduate told her about the MDS program at UBC, and when she saw it was being offered at the Okanagan campus – a smaller learning environment she thought might better suit her desire for a more close-knit, personal experience – all of the pieces seemed to fall into place. Kira hopes to be able to combine the practical skills she is learning in the MDS with the theoretical skills gained in her undergraduate degree to pursue a career interpreting data for industries relevant to her home region, like agriculture, oil and gas.

Vaghul Balaji, MDS Okanagan – 2019

Vaghul Balaji, MDS Okanagan – Class of 2019

"When I was looking for a program to take my career to the next level, I found the program at UBC and it ticked all of my boxes – it’s accelerated, it’s in a field that I really like, and gives me the skills that I need for the current trend in the market; it satisfied everything I was looking for."

Previous Degree: Bachelor of Engineering – Computer Engineering, National University of Singapore
Prior Experience: Technology Developer & Analyst at Bank of America Merrill Lynch
Program: MDS Okanagan – Class of 2019

I’ve always been intrigued by the power of computers and what you can program them to do. After some time as a developer and analyst, I realized, that I don’t want to be a traditional or a standard software engineer. I want to get into my own niche area, and I really like the field of data science, especially these days with the amount of data that’s out there.  When I was looking for a program to take my career to the next level, I found the program at UBC and it ticked all of my boxes – it’s accelerated, it’s in a field that I really like, and gives me the skills that I need for the current trend in the market; it satisfied everything I was looking for.

About Vaghul Balaji

Vaghul spent four years in the financial services industry where he began as a software developer before transitioning to the role of business analyst. Since childhood, he has been fascinated by technology, the power of computers, and what you can do with them. That is even more true today than it was then, with the amount of data in today’s world. During his time as an undergraduate student at the National University of Singapore, he did an exchange program that led to a term spent at the University of Ottawa, where he fell in love with Canada. When he decided it was time for a career change, Canada and data science were the two key requirements. He is part of the first cohort of MDS students on the Okanagan campus, which will graduate in the summer of 2019.

Jordan Dubchak, MDS Vancouver - 2018

Jordan Dubchak, Data & Analytics Analyst at Slalom

“Having the support of a very dedicated team of instructors along with the environment of your fellow students who have all such different backgrounds is my favorite thing of the program because you're learning so much not only from your instructors and your TA’S but also the people around you because they have different specialized skills.”

Previous Degree: Bachelor of Science - Biology, UBC
Program: MDS Vancouver, Class of 2018

I took my first computer science course in the last term of my undergraduate degree, which lead to a change in career path. The switch to data science began through self-learning, and my curiosity lead me to the MDS program. I was initially drawn to the program by the accelerated format and believed the structure of the fundamental data science materials would best set me up for success in my new field.  

About Jordan Dubchak

Between Jordan’s undergraduate and MDS degrees, Jordan worked as a preschool teacher. Since MDS graduation, Jordan has been working as a consultant for Slalom Consulting - Silicon Valley,  helping Fortune 100 companies solve their data problems. 

Ted Haley - Applied Materials and Software Engineer

Ted Haley, Applied Materials & Software Engineer at UBC

"Coming from a Civil Engineering background, I was initially unsure if the MDS program would benefit me. My uncertainty was quickly put at ease seeing more and more industries leveraging the benefits of Data Science. There is tremendous opportunity to use the skills learned in the MDS program and apply them to solve hard problems in traditionally low-tech industries."

Previous Degree: Bachelors of Applied Science in Civil Engineering, University of British Columbia
Prior Experience: RJC Engineers
Program:  MDS Vancouver, Class of 2018

I came to the UBC MDS program because I knew that I wanted to learn as much about Data Science as I could and I wanted to broaden my skill set. The UBC MDS program accomplished this by supplying students with world-class educators and by providing engaging labs to apply this theoretical knowledge, in a hands-on environment. I learned a lot this way in the short 10-month program, but I also can attribute this to having helpful and knowledgeable peers, and thought-provoking work. This program attracts brilliant people from all over the globe, and I'm very pleased to have them as friends and potential future colleagues. 

About Ted Haley

Ted is a civil engineer with 6 years of experience in construction management and consulting industries. He has experience managing construction projects from minor renovations to multi-billion dollar design-build projects. He hopes to apply his skills from the MDS program in conjunction with his experience from the consulting industry to solve tough problems facing society and industry. Since graduating, Ted is now an applied software and materials engineer with the University of British Columbia where he has developed a data management platform for an automated robotics platform using Python.

Rodrigo Coronado, MDS Class of 2017

Rodrigo Coronado, Director for Advanced Analytics at Avande

"MDS gave me a great insight into the data science value chain, and provided me with a deep understanding of algorithms, statistical models and development practices."

Previous Degree: Bachelor of Management Information Systems, Technologico de Monterrey
Prior Experience: Hewlett Packard, Microsoft
Program: MDS Vancouver, Class of 2017

With my background in business and global enterprises, combined with the data science experience I gained in MDS, I’m eager to pursue a strategic role translating the benefits of data science into business value. I’m passionate about how enterprises and society are leveraging artificial intelligence and machine learning—from retailers using AI bots, warehouses powered on AI robots, utility companies forecasting energy demand, hospitals automating triage processes, and researchers predicting heart attacks. I get excited thinking about the possibilities of applying my skills to drive change in industry and in the world.

About Rodrigo Coronado

Prior to completing the UBC Master of Data Science program, Rodrigo earned a degree in management information systems. He has a wide range of experience leading delivery teams and international projects and has worked with Hewlett Packard and Microsoft for 18 years in a diverse set of positions in business development, project management, enterprise applications, and global enterprise architecture practices. Rodrigo currently works as the Director of Advanced Analytics for Avanade in Calgary, Alberta.

Nasim Taba

Nasim Taba, Data Scientist at BC Stats

"I am excited to participate fully in the sweeping changes in data science, and the ideal next step is to use my MDS knowledge for social good. I am interested in exploring factors that contribute to youth homelessness; using hard data to shed light on social patterns may help alleviate problems of teenagers and their families."

Previous Degree: Master of Management Sciences, University of Waterloo
Prior Experience: Deloitte
Program: MDS Vancouver, Class of 2017

In the MDS program, I learned to extract and analyze data from both unstructured and structured forms and communicate the findings to enable organizations to make informed decisions based on data. We were well trained in Python, R, and SQL. Projects included working with both structured and non-structured data; data cleaning and imputation; applying cleaned data to various machine learning models to provide multivariate assessments, classification and prediction; visualizing data using Matplotlib, Shiny app and ggplot.

About Nasim Taba

Nasim Taba has more than 4 years of management consulting experience gained through her career at Deloitte IT Consulting. With experience in implementing small and large scale IT project implementations for Fortune 500 and 1000 companies, Nasim has experience working throughout the entire project lifecycle. From managing JAD sessions with stakeholders, developing functional design and specifications to quality and transformation requirements to developing test cases for highly complex projects, she has also simultaneously managed project staff and resources to ensure all milestones are delivered on time and within budget.

Kai He, MDS Class of 2017

Kai He, Data Scientist at BGC Engineering

"My capstone project involved Natural Language Processing using topic modelling tools, where I learned about not only model and feature selection, but also collaboration, exploratory data analysis process, and much more."

Previous Degree: Bachelor of Science, University of British Columbia
Prior Experience: University of British Columbia, Bioinformatics Laboratory
Program: MDS Vancouver, Class of 2017

I realized early on in my undergraduate studies that I also have a strong interest in mathematics and computer science. I took many math and algorithm electives while studying Life Sciences, and decided that I'd like to learn more about how to process large amount of raw data, build practical statistical models, and derive insightful and actionable solutions. That's exactly what I learned in this intense, accelerated program. I was trained in data wrangling, machine learning as well as communicating my ideas and insights as a data scientist.

About Kai He

Kai has worked in multiple Bioinformatics labs as a data analyst/research assistant. He is currently a Data Scientist at BGC Engineering, where he is applying machine learning techniques to real industrial problems in the field of geoengineering. He believes that this is a new domain with a large amount of data in all forms, such as time series, unstructured text, images, and even 50-year-old paper maps with coffee stains on them. He is learning more everyday and is very excited to find new ways of utilizing all the historical data. 

Nada Salem, MDS Class of 2017

Nada Salem, Data Scientist at Microsoft

"My goal is to empower management to make better and more informed data driven decisions for the organization."

Previous Degree: Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, Carnegie Mellon University
Prior Experience: EY
Program: MDS Vancouver, Class of 2017

My background as a management consultant as well as my MDS degree have made me aware of the value a data scientist can drive from large amounts of information already present inside an institution. This program has allowed me to amass a large amount of skills that extend from data wrangling and visualization to training machine learning models and algorithms. Hear more about Nada's story.

About Nada Salem

Nada has 2 years of experience as a management consultant and has worked on solving business problems through structured and data-based analyses to improve client performance. Prior to being a consultant, Nada completed a degree in business administration with a focus on marketing analytics. With a passion in Behavioral Economics, Nada’s thesis analyzed and classified consumer risk-taking behavior using a wide range of features collected from various data sources. Nada is currently working as a data science contractor for Microsoft.

Subi Zhang - MDS Vancouver, Class of 2017

Subi Zhang, Data Science Consultant at Delloite

"My passion is to understand and empower business through data science approaches."

Previous Degree: Bachelor of Management, Beijing Forestry University 
Prior Experience: Xiaomi, Publicis Media
Program: MDS Vancouver, Class of 2017

Two years ago, I decided to make a bold career change moving from human resources into data analysis. I made it happen through the UBC MDS program. MDS helped me gain the knowledge and skill sets required as a data science professional. The final capstone project was amazing: I obtained hands-on industrial experience on real-world data science problems in a collaborative manner. As an international student, I also felt MDS provided an excellent immersive environment that greatly improved my English in a short period of time.

About Subi Zhang

Subi is a self-motivated learner who keeps extending her career through her curiosity for business and technology. She started her career as a technical recruiter at Xiaomi supporting the advertising algorithm team, where she got in-depth exposure to multiple business applications in machine learning. This peaked her interest in data science and she took a job as a data analyst in Publicis Media where she helped advertising clients make informed decisions. She is currently employed as a Data Science Consultant at Deloitte in Toronto, Ontario.