Why I do the work I do and why I do it at Amsterdam Data Collective

By: Lourens

If somebody, 10 years ago, had told me that I would become a data scientist, I would not have believed them: I was raised a humanist, educated to think of mathematics and science as disciplines that could not express feelings or insights about the human condition in the same way as literature and art. In data science, which I came across during my academic studies in Economics, I found a different truth.

Data in its rawest form is nothing but an incoherent mass of numbers and strings, though when properly interpreted and communicated, it becomes a powerful tool in business, research and even politics.

What I really appreciate about data science and statistics in general, however, is that it is honest: it offers no reassuring certainties or comforting lies, but rather admits that life is mostly chaos, and that everything we think we know has a positive probability of being wrong. Nobody really holds the key: the best we can do is try to help each other make some sense out of this mess. This smidgen of truth resonated with me so much more than any novel, poem or song I had ever read I decided there was no alternative but to become a data scientist.

At that point, I knew what I wanted to do, but not yet how to make it useful for others. ADC answered that question for me. I used to think of quantitative and management consulting as a mainly finance-related job, which I did not find particularly inspiring. ADC changed my view in two ways: on the one hand, it made me realize that working as a consultant, in finance or any other field, fits exactly into my definition of helping my fellow man navigate the unknown; on the other, it made it clear from the beginning that it was going to try and reach other industries where our work could significantly affect people’s lives, such as healthcare and energy. I was immediately captivated by this prospect and jumped aboard. So my adventure began, and I am excited to see where it will lead me.

The worst cliché ever told is that “if you find a job you like, you will never work a day in your life”. Of course that’s not true: work is work and especially if you care about it, because you’ll try twice as hard, but I think the most important thing I’ve learned in these few months is that when you know the result of your work is going to help somebody else make better decisions, it is well worth it.