Lady in tech - we had a chat with Guolin Niu, Data Scientist from Group Audit, to share about how she makes use of data and her journey at DBS to transform the bank to become more data-driven.
“I came to Hong Kong in 2010 to pursue my Ph.D study in Network Analytics focusing on social media data mining. After graduation, I joined ASTRI as a data scientist to work on data analytics projects for clients from different industries, like manufacturing, banking, etc. Based on their problem statement, we did the analysis and came up solutions riding on Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML). In this job, my technical capabilities have been improved significantly due to the exposure to multiple AI projects. However, due to data privacy, we could not access clients’ data directly. We could only make use the data provided by clients, which might not be the most effective way for model development. I believe data can bring us more and I have to get into it,“ said Guolin. “I wanted to stretch myself for doing better and achieving more. At that time, a friend working in DBS Singapore mentioned to me that there was a job opening of data scientist in DBS HK. So I applied for the job, and now I am working here for almost 4 years.”
Guolin continued, “In the bank, our Internal Audit team has to provide independent appraisal of adequacy and effectiveness of risk management, control and governance processes. With the risk-based approach, Group Audit identifies some areas as top priority as every year’s focus. In view of the tremendous number of data, it’s not possible for our internal auditors to review every single piece manually , so as an inhouse data scientist in the bank, we make use of data analytics and build Machine Learning (ML) models to identify any outlier cases in which our auditors can further work on to find out control gaps if any. With good use of data nowadays, it is more persuasive when presenting the findings to stakeholders or senior management.”
“When I joined the bank in 2017, it was the time setting up data analytics team in HK Group Audit. I was the only one taking up the data role, while other colleagues mainly came from business background. During these years, the bank has invested many resources to upskill all the colleagues on Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, data analysis via online trainings, lunch sharing session, gamification of DBS x AWS DeepRacer League, etc. to gear up their knowledge so to improve the journey boosting our data-driven culture. Most importantly is that our colleagues are always open-minded and welcome to learn new subject matters. I am not alone now. With another data scientist joining Group Audit later and the university students participating in the internship programme, we can work out the analysis much faster,” Guolin told us delightedly.
“Before I joined the banking industry, I thought banks might only use traditional method with dated system to handle data. I had to admit that some back-end systems were not very advanced at that time when I joined the bank. With the support from leadership team, the bank continues to advance the back-end infrastructure. I really appreciate for the bank’s continuous investment in data – we have DataFirst and ADA (Advancing DBS with AI). I understood it’s not easy for an organisation to take such an advanced approach.”
DataFirst is a bank-wide transformation programme that brings together a community of data specialists and assets to enable the bank to be a data-driven organisation. We keep advancing towards delivering on the foundations put in place to industralise AI to drive our key priorities. Under DataFirst, ADA (Advancing DBS with AI) is one of the key pillars. ADA is an integrated, self-service data platform with AI/ML (Artificial Intelligence / Machine Learning) capabilities providing insights and enabling data scientists build advanced solutions.
Guolin also participates actively in the bank’s volunteer work. “The most impressive one was the trip to Cambodia. This was organised by Group Audit that colleagues across the markets like China, Taiwan, India and Indonesia gathered together for the volunteering service. We went to a school which looked very old and helped repainting the campus. We also did some family visits to the children’s home. During the recent COVID-19 pandemic, we cannot have physical visit for the volunteering work. But we continue to contribute by donating food packs, drawing cards, etc. to the communities in need. I love sharing these volunteer experiences with my kids and hope they can contribute to the communities when they grow up.”
Guolin is very blessed that she has the chance the join DBS as one without any banking industry background. “I am pleased to have this opportunity even though I don’t have any experience in banking before. In these 4 years, I learn a lot about banking, about business and make use of my expertise in data to drive business decisions.
At the end of the chat, Guolin mentioned, “I would like to thank my manager and my colleagues. They are very supportive during my journey here. During the pandemic, the management puts our safety and health as top priority. We can have flexible work arrangements to balance our personal needs against demands of work. Comprehensive technology enables us the flexibility to work from home so we can take care of the kids or elderly at home. I really appreciate for the efforts and support to us.”