*Career Path Webinars: Distinguished Careers

Distinguished Careers in Statistics and Data Science - Recording
CCD's January 2022 webinar on Distinguished Careers in Statistics and Data Science featured Distinguished speakers from across academics, industry, and government.  Over 80 participants heard about the distinguished careers of our speakers and their tips for developing successful and rewarding careers as you journey Along Your own Career Path in Data Science.  ASA CCD was excited to welcome Linda J. Young, John Bailer, and Abie Ekangaki as the featured speakers for CCD’s Distinguished Career webinar. Our speakers shared their tips for developing successful and rewarding careers along their own Career Path in Data Science.

Linda J Young John Bailer Abie Ekangaki
Linda J Young
Chief Mathematical Statistician & Director of Research and Development at the National Agricultural Statistics Service
John Bailer
Distinguished Professor and Chair in the Department of Statistics at Miami University
Abie Ekangaki
Vice President of Statistical Consulting with Premier Research

Our Distinguished Career Speakers shared their insights:

Linda: I would like to tell you that I had a grand plan for my career and I executed it perfectly but that was not the case.

Linda talked with participants about her exciting career path, influenced by her interests along the way:

  •    Did what was fun; family considerations
  •    Career was motivated by a trip to the zoo! – Linda was intrigued by the Golden Marmosets which kicked off a research area.
  •   Joined Professional Ethics Committee with ASA as first involvement – provided a foundation for working with other ASA
  •    Along the way, Linda realized she was not enjoying a position, so moved to another group.  She was more interested in applications

Chief Statistician at NASS – at first declined due to timing not being the right fit; they came back to Linda at a later date.  A take-way being that it is okay to make decisions based on one’s personal life.

John: Originally thought he would not want to do academia, but ended up very much enjoyed it.  John worked in academia, then did a postdoc in government (NIEHS), then went back to academia.

  •             Tip: Be open to your career going in directions you never planned - Opportunities will open up.  Early-on research is shaped by what you are exposed to in school – but ideas and opportunities will emerge from other areas
  •             Long-term investments in collaborations can be very fruitful
  •             Had opportunity to explore – work hard and have fun
  •             Advice: always have things in the pipeline – ie, things in process of publication, things heading there, things in development
  •             Connect with stat/data science communities – such as ASA, and also Sections of interest – community and network; life-long friends; engagements bring joy
John left the audience with - "Life outside of work is more important than life within work" and there is "No single best career path".

Abie: Took an opportunity where he realized that teaching and consulting were his passion.  Enjoys the cross-pollination of working with a broad range of scientist as well as statisticians – distill information into something that can help make decision

Three stages of career: Build your Foundation; Differentiate yourself; Develop leadership in yourself and others

Tips: developing only strong technical prowess is not the only key to success as a statistician.

  •    Learn how to communicate with business, understand broader goal, show value of statistics and data - Find out as much as you can about your organization
  •    Passion for leadership has grown -Grow statistician’s ability to impact the decision-making process
  •    Saw a need for certain opportunity in the community so sought out the resources to put them into place - Founder, ASA Biopharmaceutical Section’s Leadership in Practice Committee
  •    Personal aspects have affected his path

CCD asked our Distinguished Speakers - Looking back on your career, what advice would you give to your younger self? Best piece of advice – what you wish you knew 20 years ago?

Linda: Don’t’ stress so much about the small things; treat everyone well

John: Not taking yourself too seriously; if you are in a role that you do not like – leave it.  Would also give past self advice on stocks 

Abie: Joan Miller (women’s leadership) – “Don’t think outside the box, think like there is no box.”  Do not limit yourself.

What great advice from truly distinguished statisticians and data scientists!  CCD thanks Linda, John, and Abie for their time and career insights.

Distinguished Career Speakers Biographies:

Linda J Young is the Chief Mathematical Statistician and Director of Research and Development at the National Agricultural Statistics Service. Her research interests include integrating diverse data especially that involving spatial data, agricultural data, and statistical ecology.  Linda has authored three books and more than 100 publications in more than 50 journals, constituting a mixture of statistics and subject-matter journals. She has been the editor of the Journal of Agricultural, Biological, and Environmental Statistics. Linda has served in a broad range of offices within the professional statistical societies, including president Vice President of the ASA and chair of the Committee of Presidents of Statistical Societies. Linda is a recipient of the ASA’s Founders Award, a Fellow of the ASA and American Association for the Advancement of Science, and an elected member of the International Statistical Institute.

John Bailer is university distinguished professor and chair in the Department of Statistics at Miami University in Southwest Ohio. He is the founding chair of the Department of Statistics at Miami.  His research interests include quantitative risk estimation, the design and analysis of environmental toxicology & occupational health studies and gerontological data analysis. He has published 150+ peer-reviewed papers, many with student co-authors, 4 books and 40+ other publications. He has mentored over 50 graduate student projects and served on another 100 graduate student committees.  Bailer served as ISI President (2019-2021) and on the ISI Executive Committee. He was on the ASA Board of Directors (2011-2013) and served as a member of the IBS/ENAR Regional Advisory Committee. Promoting quantitative literacy and enhancing connections between statistics and journalism are more recent passions which resulted in the Stats+Stories podcast (www.statsandstories.net; @statsandstories).

Dr Abie Ekangaki is Vice President of Statistical Consulting with Premier Research, a leading clinical research organization in the biotechnology space. With over 26 years of experience as a biostatistician, Dr Ekangaki has worked in different capacities around the globe in industry, academia and within the international organization system. For he has held several senior technical and senior leadership positions in large pharma and CROs. He previously worked as a research scientist with the World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland.  Prior to joining Premier Research, Dr Ekangaki spent 10 years with Eli Lilly before becoming Head of North America Biostatistics at Quintiles, then Head of Global Statistical Sciences for Immunology at UCB BioPharma.  Dr Ekangaki is the founder and past Chair of the BioPharm Leadership-in-Practice Committee (LiPCom). He is passionate about promoting statistical leadership.