Alumni Spotlight: Sara Ahmed

CYBERSECURITY & DATA -This spotlight series features T. Howard Foundation (THF) alumnae working in Cybersecurity and/or Data and Analytics roles.

 Sara Ahmed (THF ’21)
Data Scientist, Hearst

Please describe your role.
As a data scientist at Hearst, I work on various data analytic projects. My role generally consists of analyzing data for actionable insights, building dashboards to present data, and building models to address business problems.

What do you enjoy most about your company?
The culture and opportunities to grow because Hearst owns over 360 businesses. I get to learn about different industries while collaborating with various business units to work on interesting and innovative data analytic projects.

In what way did this type of work interest you and how did you get started?
Data science interested me because of the insights you can get from working with data. I found it fascinating how you could use data analytics and machine learning/deep learning approaches to uncover insightful patterns in the data, predict the future, find anomalies, and so much more! I got started by doing internships and projects in school that allowed me to gain hands-on experience extracting, analyzing, and cleaning data.

How has your affiliation with the T. Howard Foundation influenced your career?
My affiliation with the T. Howard Foundation has influenced my career in so many positive ways. Through the foundation, I started my internship at Hearst which led to my first full-time job. The foundation has also helped me with my professional development, such as learning how to network and communicate professionally. I’m super grateful for all the opportunities the foundation has afforded me.

What personal attributes have been essential to your career success?
Data science is driven by curiosity. Curiosity allows you to find patterns in the data and ask questions that lead to improvements and solutions. It’s a constantly changing field and curiosity will drive you to continue to learn and expand your skill set.

If you were entering this career today, how would you prepare to facilitate entry?
If I were to enter this career today, I’d reach out to more people. There are so many different kinds of data professionals working in different industries. Learning about the importance of different roles & their significance helps solidify the kind of impact you want to have in your own career. You also gain so much insight and learn so many amazing lessons from people’s experiences through networking.

In one sentence please describe what work/life balance means to you.
Work-life balance means building sustainable habits that allow me to have time for my personal life while still fulfilling my work responsibilities.

Do you have any of the following at work? a mentor, mentee, sponsor, work BF or work spouse? If so, which one(s)? What are the advantages of having these relationships?
Mentorship has helped me immensely with navigating my career. Whenever I need advice I can reach out to my mentor for support and guidance.