Nordia Thomas, PhD, CAIA, FDP
A brief introduction: Hello everyone! My name is Nordia, and I am currently an Assistant Professor of Mathematics at the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus.
Why did I take up the FDP challenge? I heard about the charter around mid-December 2020 and was immediately intrigued. I wondered if there was more to it than just learning R or Python and applying statistical techniques. In addition, I had been looking for the right program to challenge me while also improving my knowledge and skills.
I teach several courses in statistics, a couple courses in the MSc Enterprise Risk Management program and the BSc Actuarial Science program, as well as one course on operations research. I am co-coordinator of the Mathematics Department Career Fair and the Graduate Coordinator for our MSc, MPhil, and PhD in Mathematics programs. From these, I knew that there has been growing interest in predictive analysis from the actuarial field, that employers were looking for students with more applied statistics, coding, and data analytics skills, and that the Computing department had undergone the program development and approval process for a new MSc in Applied Data Science.
As such, after a few conversations with Mirjam Dekker, I signed up right away. This opportunity to learn more about data science and bridge the gap with finance and other business-related fields was too good to miss.
What's great about FDP: The readings were quite comprehensive, allowing me to gain depth on topics I knew beforehand while also providing insight on how areas such as Machine Learning have shifted with the increase in computing power. At times the material felt daunting — there were topics that I had never even considered, and it was insightful to learn about them. The most intriguing part was on ethics in data science, because I could see how challenging it is to manage the opposing forces of making money while preserving privacy and not furthering or increasing the abuse of marginalized groups.
I am currently the only charterholder in my country and one of three in the Caribbean. Since I have gained the charter and posted it on my LinkedIn page, people have contacted me about the FDP designation, and I have encouraged them to pursue the charter. Having this charter and further insight in data science — especially ML — in conjunction with my mathematics, statistics, and finance background will open new opportunities for me in academia and industry.
My advice for aspiring industry professionals: Be open to new possibilities to learn because every industry is experiencing rapid change. For data science professionals, it is vital to have breadth and depth in different areas where your skillset might apply. For finance professionals, it is crucial to be up to date as the industry is always in a state of flux. How and what we model has grown, and so has our ethical responsibility. Always be hungry for new knowledge, maintain a varied professional network, explore innovations, and consider the impact we can all have.
About Nordia Thomas
Nordia is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Mathematics at The University of the West Indies, Mona Campus in Jamaica. She holds a BSc in Mathematics from Harvey Mudd College, California, USA and an MSc in Financial Mathematics from Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Massachusetts, USA. Nordia has a PhD in Business Statistics from the University of Illinois at Chicago, Illinois, USA. She is a Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst (CAIA), has obtained the Financial Data Professional (FDP) charter, and is currently working to attain the Financial Risk Manager (FRM) designation.
Nordia Thomas, PhD, CAIA, FDP
Assistant Professor of Mathematics
University of the West Indies, Mona Campus
Nordia Thomas, translator
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