Datacast Episode 19: Data Science in South Africa with Tristan Bergh

Datacast’s 19th episode is my chat with Tristan Bergh, a systems thinker and data scientist living in Cape Town, South Africa. Give it a listen to learn about his aeronautical engineering education, his enterprise software engineering background, his skills as a full-stack data scientist, and the tech community in South Africa.

Tristan Bergh is a systems thinker and data scientist living in Cape Town, South Africa. He studied aeronautical engineering before working as an enterprise software engineer. He worked as an architect on AFIS implementations in Southern Africa, moving into middleware for large fin-tech systems. He restarted his system modeling and machine learning consulting services through 2014, delivering predictive analytics models in healthcare and other domains.

Tristan’s skills are that of a full-stack data scientist, using primarily PySpark to deliver predictive analytics models in a rules-engine environment. He backs up his machine learning at scale using R and Python to find optimal models and feature sets for use in modeling. His current area of interest is in setting up customer next-best-action processes at scale.

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Show Notes

  • (2:35) Tristan talked about his undergraduate experience studying Aeronautical Engineering from the University of Witwatersrand in South Africa.

  • (4:10) Tristan discussed his Technical Director experience at a company called Y2K Tec, where he managed developers working on tools using Visual C++, SQL Server, and Windows Server.

  • (5:11) Tristan talked about his 3 years working as a solutions and enterprise application architect at IKT CC.

  • (6:45) Tristan went over his 2-year experience as a software architect at Unisys, a global IT company that builds high-performance, security-centric solutions for the most demanding businesses and governments around the world.

  • (8:55) Tristan talked about his transition to become a manager at JumpCo - a young-minded IT products and service company that has serviced Enterprise Application Design, Development and Implementation within the South African market in the next 5 years.

  • (10:43) Tristan discussed his work as the Director and Cloud Architect at Ixio Analytics, which is a startup that specializes in data and management information, advanced analytics and machine learning.

  • (14:03) Tristan went into more detail about his consulting service Led By Data, which delivers whole-loop process design for business operations.

  • (17:45) Referring to his talk “Predictive Analytics in Action - Real Business Results in South Africa” back in 2015, Tristan gave an example to illustrate his proposed framework to do predictive analytics efficiently called Question, Think, Test, Analyze.

  • (23:00) Tristan went over his transition from a Director title to a Data Scientist title at Led By Data in late 2016.

  • (24:58) Tristan shared his thoughts regarding the transferrable skills from cloud architect to being data science.

  • (31:21) Tristan shared his insights on the process of deploying machine learning models into production.

  • (32:43) Tristan shared the best online resources that he used to prepare for his Data Science role.

  • (39:11) Tristan discussed various ongoing projects that he’s been dabbling on.

  • (43:24) Tristan talked about his job as a Senior Data Scientist at DirectAxis, which is a big financial services organization in South Africa.

  • (45:47) Tristan went into the details about his responsibility for delivering end-to-end predictive analytics solutions serving financial services products at DirectAxis.

  • (51:22) Tristan shared his thoughts on how machine learning and data science can help improve the personal lending and insurance processes (especially for the low risk mass middle market).

  • (57:30) Tristan discussed his data science work at his current employer aYo Holdings, an organization that serves over 2.5 million customers in South Africa who purchase medical and life insurance on MTN cellular networks.

  • (01:01:32) Tristan reflected on the benefits that his Aeronautical Engineering background has had on his Data Science career.

  • (01:05:15) Tristan shared his insights on the tech and data community in South Africa.

  • (01:09:50) Closing segment.

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