Rafael Pillard Hellwig, Data Scientist at Action Against Hunger

Rafael Pilliard Hellwig

"Coming from a non-STEM background, one of the things that drew me to the MDS is that it has a broad and diverse mission statement for recruitment. This program is known for being diverse, and I continually gain insights from the experiences that my peers bring to the table."

Previous Degree: Bachelor of Arts, Honours in Law and Political Science, Carleton University
Prior Experience: Monitoring & Evaluation Lead, USAID Jordan Local Enterprise Support Project
Program: MDS Vancouver, Class of 2021

An increasing number of tools now exist that fully automate the machine learning pipeline, such that anyone can fit a powerful model with little to no code. In some ways, that is wonderful because it democratizes the field. But it also opens up the risk that people use AI without understanding their models. This is why for me, a critical function of the data scientists is to interpret and explain. It is about knowing how to frame a problem before crunching the numbers. For anyone worried about the future job market, these human roles are going to be replaced by machines for a long time. With its emphasis on communication, ethics, and extracting knowledge from data, the MDS will give you the technical and critical thinking skills to become a thinking data scientist who can tackle a broad range of problems.

About Rafael Pilliard Hellwig

After completing his undergraduate studies in the social sciences, Rafael moved to the Middle East to work in organizational development, sustainability consulting, and economic development. In these roles, a common thread has been that Rafael helped companies and governments make complex data intelligible and accessible. His experience includes leading large-scale enterprise surveys, answering causal questions through quasi-experimental analysis, championing open-data initiatives and corporate transparency, and creating tools that automate the analytics pipeline. After moving back to his hometown of Vancouver in 2019, Rafael focused on helping foreign aid implementers communicate complex concepts through visualization. Rafael chose the MDS Vancouver program to deepen his technical acumen and build a network of like-minded professionals.