An uncertain global economic climate has created a sense of unease and a heightened risk when managing finances for individuals and banking and financial institutions.

Helping banks and financial institutions manage risk is a central pillar of how SAS adds value for our customers, who must ensure their organization is sustainable and meet regulatory compliance obligations.

Managing risk and attracting customers 

In Australia, a key aspect of nurturing the next generation of data and AI graduates to be industry-ready is enabling students to tackle vexing real-world challenges. A key challenge for banks is attracting new home loan applicants in the extremely competitive Australian mortgage market.

A balance must be struck between attracting new borrowers while ensuring that banks attract the right kind of borrowers who can fulfill their loan repayment obligations without risk of default.

Tzuwei Tsai

Milica Gallardo Petkovich and Tzuwei Tsai – two students from the University of Canberra - embarked on the SAS-sponsored Capstone project, partnering with the university’s Faculty of Science and Technology project team, were set a challenge to create data-driven home loan origination models, segmentation strategies and apply other analytical solutions to tackle this issue.

For Tsai, several recommendations came out of the exercise. “From the project, we built a borrower profile at more risk of defaulting, using characteristics identified in the model such as high debt-to-income ratio, smaller loan amount and previous default records.

“From this, we are able to devise a case study to help stakeholders from non-technical backgrounds understand our model results. This is particularly important because we understand that the impact of any data-driven project can only be fully realised when the audience can understand it,” said Tsai.

Milica Gallardo Petkovich

As part of the project, they worked with academic mentors and SAS industry professionals and got hands-on experience developing solutions using SAS technology.

“My experience using SAS was supported by many resources, including our SAS team, the free online SAS courses and even YouTube videos! When learning about the tools that SAS® Viya® has, it was a great journey to learn how to use them in addition to the automatic suggestions that come along, Gallardo Petkovich said. “One of the best features was the ability to test and trial various models simultaneously using consistent and reliable metrics. As data scientists, we constantly explored new routes to achieving a high-performance model and SAS Viya supported this effortlessly.”

“The ease of use on the SAS Viya platform was truly impressive. Not only were the data science projects broken down into manageable steps, but each step came with automatic suggestions that were well-suited and highly technical. The intuitive interface meant that we could get quite far into our project without having to complete a lot of training or tutorials beforehand.” said Tsai.

Bridging the gap between classroom and boardroom

The collaboration between SAS and the university will help students and others to bridge the gap in the future - taking what they learn in the classroom and applying it to data challenges they will encounter in their careers.

"The collaboration between our students, faculty, and industry sponsors like SAS not only enriches their learning experience but also fosters innovation and drives impactful solutions," said Jeanette Cotterill, Senior Lecturer in Government Informatics at the University of Canberra.

Building the pipeline of analytics talent

For the university, this fruitful partnership with SAS is a pivotal means of ensuring that the curriculum offered to students is relevant and continues to evolve, helping to close the skills gap for data, analytics, and AI professionals in Australia.

"By working closely with industry partners, we are collectively able to ensure that our curriculum remains relevant and aligned with industry needs, producing graduates who are well-prepared to make meaningful contributions to the workforce," said Cotterill.

The value of the experience isn't confined to Gallardo Petkovich and Tsai, with the SAS team enriched by enthusiasm, creativity, and intelligence regarding the project solutions.

David Bremstaller, Customer Advisory Manager for the Public Sector in Australia and New Zealand, adds, "The UC Capstone Project provided good insights into how to help people and banks reduce the incidence of loans that default. This real-world problem helps banks and individuals understand key factors in responsible lending for the benefit of banks and customers.

"It was great to work with such a group of smart, capable post-graduate students. They showed how technology can enable research and scientific methods and how quickly a hypothesis or problem statement can result in valuable insights. It was a privilege to mentor and be part of their learning journey,” Bremstaller said.

Perhaps the most exciting aspect of the story for SAS, Gallardo Petkovich and Tsai, is that we'll be taking the next steps on the journey together, with both graduates now embarking on opportunities in the CareerStart Program and have since joined SAS' Canberra office in April 2024. Tzuwei will be a Technical Consultant, and Milica will join our Customer Advisory team, furthering their journey from classroom to workplace.

SAS has long championed the role we can play in connecting academia and industry and attracting the brightest new talent. Want to get involved? Learn more about SAS and its academic programs. 


About Author

Nicholas Quirke

Nicholas Quirke is a Principal Communications Specialist for SAS who is passionate about sharing stories about the power of technology to do good for our customers, partners and society.

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