Lulama Gcakasi

Hometown and province: Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape
Current Job/Occupation/Degree: Master of Science (Rhodes) in Statistics, thesis title Statistical learning techniques with application to fraud detection; ADP tutor and Science Faculty representative
Degrees: MSc in Statistics, Statistical learning techniques with application to fraud detection, supervised by Mr Jeremy Baxter (2018-)
BScH in Statistics, The Delta Hedging Arbitrage Strategy, supervised by: Prof Professor Irek Szyszkowski
BSc in Mathematics and Mathematical Statistics

Previous job(s): Sub-Warden

What motivated you to study further?
Statistics is a very broad profession and after honours, I felt I had not figured out what field of statistics I wanted to branch out into. From conversing with some of my working friends and doing a bit of research I had realised the importance of making sure one chooses a career path that they enjoy and are passionate about. I felt carrying on with my studies would give me time to choose the best field to apply my skills. I have since taken an interest to the finance sector which is what I decided to focus my research on.  

What is your area of specialisation:
Statistical Learning with application in the finance sector

What course do you find was most useful in your undergraduate/Honours?
Distribution Theory; Generalised Linear Models; Multivariate Analysis; Linear algebra; Computer Science; Advanced Calculus.

In what way does your qualification relate to your work, whether directly or indirectly?
The courses I did in my undergrad and honours year equipped me with necessary skills to do my research. Multivariate analysis in particular has played a major role in helping me understand the modelling techniques I am reading about. I recently went to work for a consulting company under their internship program. I find that the coding skills I have acquired thus far helped me a great deal with carrying out assigned tasks. Computer Science has played a major role in equipping me with basic coding skills.

What are your day-to-day activities?
Besides working on my research, I enjoy reading, watching series and meditating. In addition, I tend to find myself researching ways in which one can maximise their potential and maximise the time they have.

What are the best and most challenging parts of your job/degree?
I get to learn about various modelling algorithms and in the process improve my coding skills. I get to explore the world of building statistical models as a solution to problems in the financial sector. I also get to improve my writing and presentation skills. The most challenging part is finding articles or books that provide relevant and applicable information for my research.

About your time at Rhodes:
Being an academic representative taught me how to use academic sources available to me such as the library when in need.
Being a sub-warden taught me patience and resilience which came in handy on difficult days when I was not getting the desired results for my research. It also taught me to be patient with students in a tutorial session.
Tutoring gave me a platform to further understand first year statistics which equipped me with necessary skills to conduct ADP sessions. It also enabled me to connect a lot of dots with regards to the content of my research.
Consulting for fellow postgraduate students helps me improve my data analysis skills.

Advice to current students:
I find that tutoring helped me understand the world of statistics in a way lectures did not. When you find yourself in a position where you have to break down information and explain to the next person really challenges you and forces you to ensure you know your stuff. This enabled me to see the bigger picture in my own lectures. I got interested in the “why and how” this helps me in the world of statistics. As a result, I encourage all students who wish to study statistics further to tutor any of the courses. Being active in university and engaging in extra activities such as debate helps you build an attractive profile. Being proactive and taking an initiative to learn about the different domains you can apply your skills is key. Don’t wait for the time when you have to apply for jobs to research about companies you can apply to. Send emails and ask companies how you can apply your skills in their business as soon as possible. If you want to continue with your studies, pay attention to your undergraduate courses, identify the ones you enjoy most and do research on what possible fields those courses could branch out into.

Last Modified: Mon, 15 Apr 2019 12:10:04 SAST