Simon O Regan:
Data Scientist: Ind’ News & Media


Your name?
Simon O’Regan

Your job title?
Data Scientist

What are the main tasks and responsibilities?

Analysing data, developing insights on audience behaviour on and other news and eCommerce websites owned by INM. Creating machine learning and recommender models with which to target advertising and content to the user. Product management.

Describe a typical day?

What are the daily activities you carry out/ daily structure or routine events?

There is a huge variation in daily activities, owing to the fast-natured pace of the news cycle. Projects tend to last several hours to several weeks. Meeting and collaborating wih people from other disciplines forms a core part to the job.

What do you find most interesting ?

The ability to create innovative products that directly effect our readers. The multi-disciplinary nature of the work.

What’s not so cool? What are the main challenges?

Corporate structure and the limitations that this can place on the pace of progress. Coding.

How do you use mathematics within your job?

Mathematics strongly underlies all machine learning algorithms. Similarly, statistical measures are vital in correctly interpreting data and data trends.

What type of mathematics do you use to solve problems?


Who or what has most influenced your career direction?


Does your job allow you to have a lifestyle you are happy with?

Yes, with concerted effort

What subjects did you take (and why did you take them?) in school and did they influence your career path?

English, Irish, Maths, French, History, Economics, Physics.

Not quite; I studied what interested me at the time.

What is your education to date?

Christian Brothers College Cork. Electrical and Electronic Engineering, UCC. PhD in machine learning for biomedical applications (brain signals).

What aspects of your education have proven most important for your job?

PhD. Communication (Leaving Cert English and undergraduate project work.)

Did you like maths at school?

Yes, although found it somewhat boring towards the end. Found it quite easy; probably should have studied applied maths as well. If I was re-doing the LC now I would spend time on coursera, udacity, khan academy and watching relevent Ted talks.

What aspects of the mathematics curriculum or mathematics courses have proven most important for your job?

Statistics and matrices. Both should be emphasised more at LC.

What other skills do you think someone should obtain if they wanted to pursue your career?

For example computer coding, project management, languages.

Coding (learn this early). Design would be a huge advantage in presenting information. Product management. Public speaking.

What advice would you give to someone considering this job?
What qualities / skills / values / interests / education would someone need to have to ‘fit’ your job? What can give them an ‘edge’?

Curiosity. Scepticism. Ambition. Wanting to create new products/provide new insights. The ability to communicate.

What kinds of work experience would provide a good background for this position?

Not quite. Data science roles pretty much require a PhD. Data analytics is one part that may be more attainable. Do tutorials online, enter Kaggle competitions, etc.