Today, we are interviewing someone from my country and a pioneer of data science education in Italy: Paola Cerchiello, Senior Assistant Professor of Data Science at University of Pavia. The University of Pavia is one of the oldest colleges in the world, being founded in 1361. It offers 84 different types of bachelor degrees, 29 masters and 22 PhDs. Paola belongs to the Department of Statistics and teaches courses in Data Science (Applied Statistics, Big Data Analysis, Data Mining) for a number of degrees.
University of Pavia. Her Professor of Statistics, Paolo Giudici, who remains her boss and mentor, pushed her to add STEM subjects in her academic curricula. This eventually led her to sign up and graduate with a PhD in Statistics from the University of Milano-Bicocca in 2004. While a PhD student, she spent a period at Rutgers University. While studying at Rutgers she fell in love with textual analysis, something not yet popular among statisticians in Italy and Europe.
It the beginning it was not easy to have her research understood and published: she was at the intersection of statistics, finance, and computer science. And traditional journals typically prefer to publish papers, which focus on specific fields. At some point in the mid-2000s, mainstream financial journals start publishing work around textual analysis and its application to finance (we cover some here). Finally, she felt in the right place at the right time. Her flexibility towards multi-disciplinary approaches was paramount.
One thing is clear in Paola’s career: never stop studying and learning new things. And what is more important, never stop sharing your knowledge with students. Yes, it requires effort to update your syllabus and power point presentations for every new semester, but it is the best way to make the world progress!
environment she developed awareness on the possibility for women to achieve any goal without limits.
Paula’s advice is in line with a recent study by McKinsey, which surveyed more than 14,000 employees at 39 financial services companies as well as interviewed 12 female senior executives. The results are staggering: while female representation at entry-level positions is at par with men, only 19% make it to the C-suite. Among some of the possible reasons behind the under-representation at top levels is an ambition and confidence gap. Not having many female role models to look up to may increase the likelihood that young women deselect themselves from these top positions.
We hope that the #womeninfinanceknowstuff is a little step toward increasing the representation of women in finance at all levels.
Thank you, Paola: it has been a great pleasure and we wish you continued success!
What Contributed to Paola’s Success?We asked Paola to tell us the things that contributed most to her success. She conveyed three basic themes that characterized her professional career:
- Theme #1: FLEXIBILITY
- Theme #2: CONTINUOUS EDUCATION
- Theme #3: DON’T LIMIT YOURSELF