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Meet Our People: Alexa Kovacs, Junior Data Scientist

alexa kovacs, junior data scientistA 2020 Rose-Hulman graduate, Alexa Kovacs joined the KSM Consulting Data Analytics team as a Junior Data Scientist last spring, eager to begin her career and make a difference. After her classes transitioned to remote learning, she jumped on the opportunity to join the KSMC team, moving her start date prior to graduation, and immediately began making an impact with her team and clients.

Early in her career, Alexa brings professional maturity, intense curiosity, and a drive to deliver the best outcomes and solutions, even—especially—when they require her to expand her skills and technical approach. In addition to her data science skills, she has provided training to new users on how to use our data-sharing platform and helped them debug R scripts as well. Her genuine concern for clients and users, on top of her technical skills, is a wonderful asset to have on the team.

Alexa’s exceptional skill and passion are noted by our team and clients, as well as the Indy tech community. This December, Alexa was rewarded for her hard work and technical skills as the 2020 recipient IndyHackers Rising Star of the Year award, awarded to someone who has shown great effort in learning tech skills as well as encouraging others to get involved in the Indiana tech community.

Read more about Alexa’s story.

Why/how did you choose data science as your career?
I am a 2020 graduate from Rose-Hulman University with a math and econ degree with a concentration in statistics and operations research. I also have a minor in statistics and Spanish. Before arriving at data science, I tried on a few other majors. I originally planned to be an actuary, but very quickly learned I don’t like taking tests so that wasn’t going to work. Next, I was going to be a mathematician, but this time I learned that I don’t like proofs or working toward math without a clear purpose.

Luckily, a wonderful professor took me under his wing, saw my skills and passions, and guided me towards statistics. In statistics and data science, I can use my knowledge to help people solve problems that they aren’t able to solve by themselves. In my career as a junior data scientist, I am able to combine my love for numbers with my passion for helping people.

What’s your favorite KSMC value? Why?
Of the four KSMC core values, empathy is definitely my favorite value. You would think as a data scientist I would say problem-solving because it is at the root of my job, but I feel empathy is just as important to my role.

Having empathy as a core value in a company says a lot about that organization and the culture it creates in the workplace. It is such a crucial and incredible value, and it’s also something that you don’t always find at a consulting firm. I see empathy exemplified through my coworkers every day. I remember specifically realizing the extent of empathy and support I felt from my team during my virtual onboarding process. Just the other day, the entire company received a Starbucks gift card, although a small act of empathy, it made my whole day.I am so happy to be a part of a company that values empathy as much as I do.

What has surprised you about your time with KSMC?
I have been blown away by the amount of mentoring support I have received in my time here so far. Amrutha Wheeler, Data Science Team Lead, has been an amazing resource and mentor to me. Amrutha, Sandip [Biswas, Data Science Manager], and I have monthly meetings to discuss my future and career goals, along with how KSMC can support them. Having mentors like Amrutha and Sandip who encourage me to take opportunities that will excel me in my career path is something that I will never take for granted as an early career professional.

Where are you involved outside of KSMC?
This year, I was selected to be one of the Indianapolis 500 Festival Princesses. As a Princess, it is our responsibility to spread the mission of the 500 Festival through outreach work in the Indianapolis community. Because this past year has been different than most, we’ve gotten creative in the types of activities we could do to help. I was thrilled to assemble care packages for healthcare heroes.

It is my goal, once it is safe, to go into elementary school classrooms and do STEM activities with the children. As a female professional in tech, I believe it is tremendously important to educate people about STEM at a young age. I am especially passionate about educating young females, as I, myself, am a minority in my field.

What is one piece of advice you have learned and want to share?
It’s okay to not know the answer to a problem right away. You will eventually find the answer and you will find the best answer by giving yourself the time to search for it.

In college, you have to be the first person to raise your hand and give out that right answer, but I’ve learned that in the professional world, being first doesn’t always mean that you’ve arrived at the best answer.

At KSMC, we truly value giving the best answer to our clients, not just the right answer. It is okay to not have a response right away and to not know exactly what you want to do right away. Take the time, do the research, and make sure not only are you finding the right answer, but the best answer.

Have you picked up any new hobbies during quarantine?
I have taken up cooking – failing pretty miserably – I should add. I also invested in and now have a hydroponic garden where I grow my own fruits and vegetables in my home. Watching lots of TV shows like Grey’s Anatomy and Lucifer has been another fun hobby that I have had time to do. However, my favorite part has been spending time with my family. I am lucky to live very close to my parents, siblings, and my grandma.