Penn Wang

'The on-the-job experience offered me a perfect low-pressure entry into the BI field...'

  • Penn Wang

Master of Business Information Systems

BI Developer, TransDiesel Ltd

 

What kind of work does a Business Intelligence Developer do?

With the advent of the big data era and its increasing momentousness as the biggest asset for modern organisations, greater emphasis has been put to have a more meaningful way of interpreting data.

Just like the traditional SDLC (Software Development Life Cycle) I learnt in the MBIS programme, my daily basis consists of the whole cycle of BI development, from liaising with users to collecting requirements, designing data warehouse and data models, implementing ETL or BI solutions, to continuing optimising query performance. 

I also try to squeeze time for self-learning after work, and I am recently certified by Microsoft as a solutions expert in data management and analytics.

It sounds like there’s a lot of skillsets involved!  How did the MBIS programme prepare you for this?

The biggest advantage of MBIS is the fact that it is an interdisciplinary programme which consists of business studies, data science, and information technology. It is only when I started my current job that I realised the benefits of being exposed to all three fields. 

I need to know the basic financial and accounting concepts to understand user requirements, data process principles to manipulate data, and programming logic and platform to deliver ETL or BI solutions. The combination of the MBIS courses has greatly reduced the steepness of the learning curve when I first started this job.

What courses did you enjoy most from study?

Personally, the most valuable aspect of MBIS is the internship and applied project research. I was lucky enough to take on two real-life BI projects with Airways New Zealand, while getting tremendous support from both UC and Airways. 

The on-the-job experience offered me a perfect low-pressure entry into the BI field and first exposure to every phase of SDLC, which strengthened my conviction of pursuing in this field. 

Also, unlike reading case studies about workplace culture or hearing from guest speakers, these projects gave me precious first-hand experience regarding how a professional workplace operates, which helped me on board in my first professional job with more ease.

Coming from Chengdu in China, how has study in UC differed from what you’ve experienced?

Compared with other institutions, UC offers a more flexible curriculum approach allowing students to enrol in other relevant subjects within or outside of the programme. Also, the internship and applied project allow students to have a taste of the actual professional experience before graduation, which is crucial in test-driving a particular field and establishing networking connections before leaving the campus.

I enjoy the fact that UC gauges students’ learning not only on examinations but also personal essays, group projects and oral presentations. And the assessment criteria evaluate our knowledge and, more importantly, the lessons we learnt out of our mistakes. There is always a lessons learnt section as part of the assessment requiring me to reflect on what worked and what did not work on an ongoing basis. 

In the course of time, we tend to forget the challenges and mistakes we encountered, but keeping a lessons learned journal helps us learn from the past experiences and prevents repetition of the same mistakes again.

What was one of your most important things you learned?

As like many other students who just joined the programme, I held the common stereotype that data is boring. But I soon realised meaningful data in a context is a storyline. MBIS is an applied programme so why not applying it to what you enjoy the most? 

For me, I built a BI report to monitor my CrossFit result, so I can easily query my historical performance, analyse growth trend, and forecast future results. This can be used in many other interesting things as well, such as keeping track of your calorie intake, money expenses, walking steps, etc. 

So what would be your ideal project to work on in your career? 

Although I can’t deny that it is appealing to join a big tech company and to be exposed to the latest technology, I always have a tender spot in my heart for the victims of child trafficking. My heart is calling me to run a small non-profit and utilise the power of data to shape the future of this social problem.

 
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