First of all, tell us something about yourself: What hashtags best describe you?
#Curious #Adventurous #Active #Intense
Tell us more about them.
#Curious: I have an innate eagerness to learn new things, both in my personal and professional life. I enjoy talking to people from different walks of life to understand their perspectives and visions. This curiosity extends to being open to new experiences and challenges that come my way.
#Adventurous: I've never taken the easy way out, especially when it comes to pursuing my interests and passions. Whether it's making big life decisions or travelling to different parts of the world, my adventurous spirit has always guided me. It's about embracing the unknown and learning from different cultures.
#Active: My life is a whirlwind of activity. Between my demanding role at Syntera and my personal life, which includes annual trips to Chile to visit my family, there's never a dull moment. It keeps me on my toes and makes every day exciting.
#Intense: I'm passionate about what I do and who I am. This intensity manifests itself in my work ethic, my hobbies and my relationships. It's what drives me to excel and gives my life a sense of purpose.
Now let's talk about your professional life: What do you do at Syntera GmbH?
I'm the Co-Founder and Lead Data Scientist at Syntera GmbH, a startup based in Lucerne. We focus on helping companies unlock the potential of their data. My role is multifaceted: in addition to designing, developing and implementing analytics solutions using cloud technology and big data tools, I also spend time looking for new business opportunities to further grow our company. At the moment, one of the most interesting parts of my job is talking to other like-minded people, understanding their business vision and developing a plan to help them achieve their goals in the most efficient way using technology.
What have you done before and why did you join Syntera GmbH?
Before co-founding Syntera GmbH, I worked as a consultant at Saracus Consulting AG, where I maintained a complex DWH environment for the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs in Bern. Before that, I was a Data Scientist at Westphalia DataLab, where I gained my first experience in a data science start-up in Münster, Germany. So why did I decide to join Syntera? The answer lies in the alignment of my passion for data science with the entrepreneurial spirit. I saw an opportunity to make an impact on a larger scale and be involved in every aspect of the business, and I had the perfect partners in Dimitri Bütikofer and Dominic Schranz to realise this vision. Together we want to revolutionise the way companies use data and I couldn't be more excited about this journey.
Tell us about the most exciting part of your job.
The most exciting aspect of my job is undoubtedly the community we are part of. We are proud alumni of the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts and our company is based in the university's Smart-Up hub. This gives us an academic touch and a nurturing environment for innovation. We also make it a point to regularly attend Microsoft events, as we use Microsoft technology extensively to help our customers. But what excites me most is our membership of the LAC2 community in Lucerne. This community acts as a melting pot for all players in the AI ecosystem in Central Switzerland. It provides a fantastic opportunity to connect, learn and collaborate, which enriches our work at Syntera GmbH.
What Data Science skills are most in demand in your role?
While you might think that hard skills like programming and machine learning algorithms are the primary requirements for a data scientist, I've found that soft skills like communication and project management are just as important. Effective communication is key to translating complex data insights into actionable business strategies. Project management skills help to structure work and ensure efficient use of time and resources. Both skills are essential in a start-up environment where you're expected to be a jack of all trades.
Do you see yourself as a technician or an analyst? Or a creative genius, management superhero or generalist wizard?
I would describe myself as a cross between an 'analysis freak' and a 'creative genius'. I love digging deep into data to uncover insights, but what really energises me is the creative process that follows the analysis. Whether it's designing a new experiment to test a hypothesis or crafting a compelling data story, the creative aspect makes the analytical work even more rewarding.
What do you remember most about your time on the MSc in Applied Information and Data Science?
During my MSc in Applied Information and Data Science at HSLU, what struck me most was the diversity of the student body. Almost all were working professionals from different industries, and the one thing that united us was our shared passion for data science. In terms of coursework, the development of my Master's thesis was a highlight. It provided a comprehensive platform to apply everything I had learned. The diversity of perspectives enriched my learning experience, while the thesis work gave me a satisfying sense of accomplishment.
What are the biggest challenges in your job at the moment?
The dynamic nature of a startup brings its own set of challenges, the most pressing of which is wearing multiple hats. One moment I am immersed in data analytics, the next I am in a client meeting explaining our services. Balancing these different roles, especially the shift from a technical to a sales mindset, is challenging but also exhilarating. It pushes me to constantly adapt and grow.
What advice would you give to others starting out in the same role?
The best advice I can give is to be passionately curious. Look for things that pique your interest and align them with your professional goals. Keep learning, not just from courses or books, but also from the people around you. And above all, enjoy the journey. If you're passionate and curious, you're already on the road to success.
And finally: What new hashtag are you aiming for?
#Focused. 2023 has been quite rewarding so far, both professionally and personally. My goal for the remainder of the year is to maintain this momentum. Staying focused will be critical to capitalising on the various opportunities I expect to be presented to me.
We thank Kail Kuhn for his dedication and time to share these valuable insights with us.