The Small Step from Life Sciences to Data Science


Everyone has been there. That crucial moment when you must ask yourself the question "What do I want to do with my life?". This question can be scary and difficult to answer. Yet, some lucky ones quickly find their path. And it's not only a path that makes sense, but one that they are passionate about. This is the case of Idrissa Konkobo, a student at ENSAE Paris and a true "SASian". This young Data Scientist, 23 years old, knows exactly where he wants to go and gives himself all the means to get there!

From math to data science - a trajectory that makes sense

It wasn't love at first sight between data and Idrissa. Originally from Burkina Faso, Idrissa first turned to mathematics and science, entering a preparatory class MPSI (Mathematics, Physics, Engineering Sciences) / MP (Mathematics, Physics) in Casablanca. Between calculation and physical studies, no time nor desire to focus on the issue of coding.

"I discovered SAS in 2018 through a specialist of the subject who sent me a link to the base programming course, but I wasn't really interested in it. I was in prep school and wasn't into it at all."

However, having a strong interest in math and computer science, it wasn't long before Idrissa realized that Data Science is indeed at the crossroads of these fields. In 2019, he joined INSEA in Rabat, specializing in Data Science. With more time to find his calling, Idrissa discovered his passion for coding. This also marks the return of SAS in his life: At school, SAS is the first programming language that students are introduced to, and the teaching staff strongly encourages students to discover the SAS universe to improve their employability.

In 2021, Idrissa chose the ENSAE Paris and INSEA Double Degree, with a specialization in Data Science, Statistics & Learning. His professional path is becoming more concrete - as well as his technical skills with SAS.

The SAS universe is a universe of curiosity, competence, and openness

After a rather timid start, Idrissa quickly found his taste for SAS' programs. And so it was that Idrissa began to binge through SAS certifications like others do through Netflix series. In less than a year, the student accumulated four certifications (SAS Certified Specialist: Base Programming Using SAS 9.4, SAS Certified Professional: Advanced Programming Using SAS 9.4, Machine Learning Using SAS Viya and SAS Certified Statistical Business Analyst Using SAS 9: Regression and Modeling)!

But his curiosity does not stop there! Indeed, Idrissa is participating in the SAS Hackathon 2021 with the startup OLL™mobi.

So, in short, Idrissa studies in a demanding school, finds time to get SAS certifications on top of that and participates in extracurricular projects like a Hackathon. And then they say that today's youth are only addicted to their phones!

But what are the motivations of this young man to dive heart and soul into the SAS universe?

"It all started with curiosity - I wondered how important it was to have SAS skills in the job market and I realized that many companies required SAS as a skill in their job postings - to be precise, I saw more than 200,000 postings in that case! So, the certifications made complete sense for my career in order to prove my credibility on the topic. Plus, SAS Viya made my life easier. Programming language versatility, open source integration, an end-to-end analytical cycle and all that in the cloud, so no need to worry about my computer's performance - an internet connection is all I need!"

Data Science, a passion that goes beyond professional prospect

In addition to seeing his academic career very clearly, Idrissa is also confident about his professional project: Although he does not exclude working in sectors related to customer intelligence, he wants to pursue a career in retailing as a priority. He explains that this sector offers a multitude of challenges, which are evolving very quickly, especially with technological revolutions such as the metaverse or cryptocurrency.

"For this sector, data is a fundamental pillar and I want to be part of this adventure. In addition, it is a setting that offers not only infinite possibilities for acquiring new skills, but also an international dimension that attracts me a lot. SAS is a perfect fit, because to solve personalization, sales or inventory optimization problems, we need powerful models and cutting-edge algorithms.”

For this young programming and soccer enthusiast, SAS is much more than just a technical skill. With a laugh, he tells us that after learning that his Instagram handle "let_idrissa" refers to the SAS macro language, his friends warned him jokingly not to turn his entire life into SAS.

Furthermore, INSEA's Class of 2022 in Morocco can speak volumes about Idrissa's passion. Through their WhatsApp group, the student "floods" his classmates with information about SAS, so they too can prepare for the world of employment.

"Sometimes I wish there was a better environment to spread the word about SAS among my friends. To me, it's unacceptable not to know about SAS, the leader in analytics!"

Last but not least, Idrissa has just participated in the Curiosity Cup, a global SAS competition for students. Even though his team was not selected, he is grateful for this opportunity, allowing him to deepen his knowledge and work with SAS teams and other students on an innovative project based on Machine Learning, Text Mining and Deep Learning. We are already looking forward to his next adventures! To be continued!


About Author

Ariane Liger-Belair

Diplômée en management international de l’American University of Paris, Ariane Liger-Belair rejoint SAS en 1998 et c’est dès 1999 qu’elle initie les relations avec les universités et crée le Programme Académique de SAS France. Cette initiative a été adoptée par SAS mondialement depuis. Près de 150 universités et écoles françaises utilisent SAS en enseignement & recherche. Le message clair à tous les étudiants est : « Boostez votre carrière avec SAS ! » Le besoin de talents opérationnels chez les clients et partenaires de SAS en témoigne depuis plus de vingt ans et le programme SAS Spring Campus en est une parfaite illustration. Accroître le nombre d’apprenants sur les dernières technologies de SAS est son leitmotiv.

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