Dear Younger Me: A Data Scientist's Advice for Young Women in the Field

Hyunyoung Choi, Chief Data Scientist, S&P Global
March 28, 2019
Women in Data Science

As part of S&P Global’s Corporate Responsibility campaign, #ChangePays, all employees were encouraged to reflect on the importance of the diverse perspectives that power our global economy. Colleagues from around the world wrote letters to their younger selves, reflecting on their careers, sharing advice and voicing the importance of inclusive workforces.

Here is the letter I shared with my colleagues on my own experiences and what I would like to share with UVA’s Women in Data Science Community.

Dear younger me, 

I am writing to you at the moment when you start your first journal on June 10, 2007. You were so excited to join Google and I see you counting down the days until your first day.

It’s 2019 and I’ve started my new job as Chief Data Scientist, Alternative Data at S&P Global. I started to read through the journals I kept for the past 12 years and can see how everything happened. So many things brought us to this place – I see your excitement, joy, frustration, disappointment, sadness. As you start your first page, you won’t believe you kept a journal for this long, but I can tell you that it will help you to reflect on your days on a regular basis and move forward.

I want to share a few tips that might help you.

You will work with brilliant minds from all around the world. You will experience how the industry changes and how the technology develops to capture, and work with, more data. You are very lucky to be where you are. If you don't move forward, you are bound to move backward. Please be open-minded and learn as best as you can.

You will make mistakes and often find yourself wrong. It’s okay to fail – the real failure is not trying. You will be tempted by recruiters and make a wrong career decision. Don’t worry. Even then, you will find something to learn and it will help you to be a better mentor. Just remember to give 100% once you decide to go for it. Sometimes you learn more from failure. I can assure you that everything will turn out fine.

Soon you will be working with Hal Varian, the brilliant economist. Still I see him as my role model and I try my best to become someone like him - insightful, supportive and always learning. Know that you will be where I am today thanks to everyone you meet along the way.  I promise to try my best to keep making a positive impact and supporting ‘YOU’ in our field.

When I look at my team and more junior S&P Global colleagues, I see you in their eyes and I feel proud. We are building data products leveraging traditional data and alternative data.  In a way, we are a startup within a 150 year old company. I try to manage my team as if we were still at a startup, building new products leveraging S&P Global’s vast amounts of data. Ten years from now, I hope to see my team reaching their full potential and reflecting on the positive notes of their careers.

— HC

This piece was written by Hyunyoung Choi, Chief Data Scientist, Alternative Data and Managing Director at S&P Global as part of the 2019 Women in Data Science Charlottesville Conference.