Kerry Halupka

Data Scientist

Length of service:  3 months

My journey so far

Growing up, I was a big science and technology nerd. I went to space camp and was interested in drones. Mid-way through my undergraduate degree in mechatronic engineering I realised that I wanted to help people through my work, so I teamed up with the physiology department to study vision, with a view to eventually developing a model to help restore sight to people who are visually impaired. I went on to complete my PhD in Biomedical Engineering where I worked on an algorithm to improve the resolution of the bionic eye.

Most recently, I was a postdoctoral researcher at IBM, working on medical applications of artificial intelligence to help doctors diagnose and manage diseases. I decide to join the Victorian Centre for Data Insights for the opportunity to make a difference in a practical way and to see the impact of my work up close. The culture and values of the organisation also resonated with me.

My day-to-day work

Right now, I am embedded with Victoria Police as the Technical Lead on a 4-month project. Every day begins with a short standup to talk about what we achieved yesterday, what we are working on today and any roadblocks we might be facing. Then I get stuck into a mix of coding, data extraction, feature engineering and machine learning. Alongside this, I regularly meet with subject matter experts to better understand their needs and determine the best way to analyse their data.

As a Data Scientist I keep the project on track by ensuring that every stage of our analysis brings us closer to delivering on our commitments and creates value for the client.

My role in the bigger picture 

The work we do at the Victorian Centre for Data Insights contributes to the community in very tangible ways. Every day we use data to help different parts of government improve the way they operate and better serve Victorians. The project I am currently working on will support the police to better manage their workforce and lead to improved safety outcomes for Victorians.

We also build evaluation and reporting into the development of our projects, so we can measure the impact of our work; whether that is in terms of cost savings, improved services or making Victoria a great place to live.

Unique opportunities in the Victorian public sector 

From a data professional’s perspective, the best thing about working in the Victorian public sector is the diversity of datasets we get to work with. Often, we work with data that isn’t available to the public or private organisations and we are using it to solve the big challenges facing the whole of the state.

The projects we work on are also extremely varied, covering the full gamut of social, economic, environmental policy and service delivery. Working in the public sector gives you the opportunity to work across so many different fields you’ll never be bored!

Experiencing diversity and inclusion

I have been really impressed by the diversity in our team, particularly seeing women in technical and leadership roles. There is often a lack of diversity in the tech industry and it’s not uncommon to be the only female in a team. That isn’t the case in the public sector and I think this is a credit to the Victorian government’s diverse hiring practices.

Proud of my work

I am most proud of the way we engage with our clients. We work alongside them every step of the way; from initial scoping, through the design of the project and the development and implementation of solutions.

This ensures we always deliver a product that meets their business needs and ultimately, enables them to better serve Victorians. Using data to improve the way government works on behalf of citizens is the most fulfilling aspect of my work. 

What I enjoy most 

The thing I most enjoy about working in the Victoria public sector is the positive workplace culture. Our team is fun, supportive and committed to continuous learning. We are actively encouraged to test new ideas and the opportunity to develop new skills is built into our work. The field of data science is constantly changing which makes it so important that we are continually upskilling and learning new tools and techniques. 

Join me in the public sector 

We’re looking for people with a diverse range of skills and experiences to join the Victorian public sector. If you are searching for an opportunity to apply your data knowledge and skills to the big problems and be connected to the outcomes of your work, the Victorian Public sector is a great place to be.