2013 Young Statisticians' Workshop

Data Analysis Australia has always believed that the future of statistics in Australia rests in encouraging talented young people to consider it as their career.  To this end we have been a Gold Sponsor of every Young Statisticians’ Workshop in Western Australian since their inception in 1994.  As well as this sponsorship, Data Analysis Australia staff have served on every organising committee.  This year was no exception, with three Data Analysis Australia staff on the committee, including chairperson, Elyse Corless.

The event’s theme was “Variability in Statistics” and the program highlighted the diversity of applications and industries in which today’s Statisticians play a key role.  More than 60 young (and young-at-heart) Statisticians gathered in Deloitte’s 14th floor conference room at Woodside Plaza for the event, which included presentations by two Keynote Speakers, several Invited Speakers and an engaging panel discussion.The first Keynote Speaker was Ross Bowden, an Applied Statistician with over 40 years’ experience in diverse areas, including pricing analysis and market research.  Over the past 20 years, Ross has developed unparalleled expertise in issues relating to the Western Australian electricity market working for SEC

WA, Western Power, and Synergy and currently consulting for Horizon Power.  While a strong foundation in technical skills is inarguably important, Ross’ many years of industry experience have shown him the importance of other, complementary skills.  Ross focused on those non-technical skills such as self-management, communication techniques and commercial insight that are vital for a successful career in any industry.

Dr John Henstridge (Managing Director of Data Analysis Australia and National President of the Statistical Society of Australia) was the second Keynote Speaker.  With a career as a Consultant Statistician also spanning more than 40 years, John highlighted the challenges and excitement of using mathematics and statistics to solve diverse real-world problems such as predicting waiting times for public housing and evaluating random breath testing.  “Real world problems are always a challenge because they rarely fit into neat boxes – rather they stretch what you know and force you to keep learning new statistical concepts and new ways of doing things, as well as remembering the old tricks.”

Invited speakers from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the Department of Agriculture and Food, iVEC and CSIRO rounded out the day by sharing insights into the role of Statisticians in their organisations.  These roles included providing strategic information to aid the policy-making process, supporting scientists and technical staff in conducting research, using supercomputers as a tool in the research process, providing quantitative knowledge about the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease and using modern statistical methods to understand current and future climates.

The closing address was given by President of the Western Australian Branch of the Statistical Society, Anna Munday.  Anna emphasised the recurring theme of the day: that statistics is not just about crunching the numbers.  To be useful, the results of any statistical analysis must be presented in a way that is both meaningful to and tailored to the client’s, manager’s or colleague’s needs, allowing informed and strategic decisions to be made.  This ‘client awareness’ is one of many non-technical skills necessary to contribute to success in the field of statistics.

Two other Data Analysis Australia staff presented on the day. Yuichi Yano talked on “A Day in the Life of a Consultant Statistician” which won him the prize for the Best Talk by a Young Statistician and Jennifer Bramwell presented a poster on her Masters research titled “Improving Staffing Schedules at a Cardiothoracic Intensive Care Unit” which was awarded the prize for the Best Poster by a Young Statistician.  As the quality of both the talks and posters was very high, Yuichi and Jennifer are to be commended for their contributions.

Since their inception in 1994, the Western Australian Young Statisticians’ Workshops have aimed to provide university students, recent graduates and those in their early career an opportunity to network, share their own experiences and gain insight into where a career in statistics can lead them. 

This goal is one fully supported by Data Analysis Australia.  We see a growing need within Australia for skilled and enthusiastic mathematicians, scientists and statisticians.  The Western Australian Young Statisticians’ Workshops provide a forum to develop and support the future generation.  Data Analysis Australia is already reaping the rewards of this year’s Workshop, with student Josh Bon joining the company over the summer break, thanks to a timely introduction at the event.

December 2013