Lin Zhang, Data Scientist at our Zurich office, discusses the stimulating pursuit of knowledge and how an open and honest work environment nurtures the most impactful solutions. 

Meet Lin Zhang, our Data Science Associate in Zurich

A lucky start and forking paths   

I was born during a period in China that decreed families could only have one child; despite the policy, I became the second daughter of my mother and father. I feel my life is a bonus, with extra luck to begin with, so I have been determined to make the most out of it. I believe this has given me the impetus to strive for success and embraces all the challenges put in front of me.  

During the early stages of my life in China, the schools were adopting a comprehensive development education concept, and I took the opportunity to learn and build the foundation for understanding the world from playing musical instruments to formulating chemical reactions and Newtonian physics. My path became clearer in high school with my strength in mathematics and science. Inspired by my father, an Electrical Engineer, I decided to study engineering, completing my bachelor's degree in Water Conservancy and Hydropower Engineering at Wuhan University. 

Changing place and a change of pace 

Then I relocated to Ireland to pursue a PhD in Geomechanical Engineering at Trinity College Dublin, with visiting research in Germany. It was a challenging course; more than half of my cohorts dropped out or failed.  This prepared me to tackle any technical challenges with high resilience.  

In June 2016, I started my career in an engineering consultancy, where I met two great mentor figures who trusted and supported me but, most importantly, guided me to see my potential and materialise future career options. In September 2018, I pivoted into data science in healthcare, collaborating worldwide and honing my talents alongside a unicorn start-up team with holistic developments in the full spectrum of data science. It was a significant step to sharpening my business acumen and advancing my data science expertise. I joined the Metyis Zurich office in April 2022 as an Associate in Data Science. 

Learning, overcoming, adapting 

Since then, I have been dedicated to a project with an audio industry client. With minimal onboarding and oversight, I aligned with the client's requirements, fulfilling them by centralising their marketing data from cross-world market sources. Simultaneously, I worked with internal stakeholders on data enablement and maximising data science deliverables from domain data.  

There were many challenges along the way; for example, nearly 30 internal and client-based data sources contained half-processed data, remote collaborations, and staffing changes. To rectify this, I interfaced with the client and project leads to understand the current progress and business priorities. Then I translated the relevant data tasks into manageable and actionable components, established a priority list, delegated tasks accordingly, and reviewed them periodically. I learnt to tailor my management approaches to the different cultural contexts, working styles, and time zones. 

Data science is a field of lifelong learning. I keep myself updated with the latest research, publications, tools and milestones. I know where I would like to patch and excel in my skills. Curiosity and opportunity drive me to optimise my learning and professional development time. Metyis' Big Data & Analytics offers roles that blend these two areas with leadership opportunities. ”Collaborating with colleagues from the global offices in Amsterdam, Porto, Lisbon, Istanbul, Munich, and clients from the EU, APAC, and the US presents opportunities to learn from cross-border technical collaborations and map out regional business requirement patterns. It is a challenge that enhances communication through unassuming, explicit coordination with internal and external stakeholders.  

Keeping the lines open with honesty 

I have been very impressed by the Metyis people initiative, which the Zurich office implemented to improve the working environment via honest conversations and collaborative solutions between employees and management. Working with people from multicultural backgrounds has been part of my natural working style. The most beneficial advice I have received on navigating international work environments is never to assume malice and to stay constructive. What most impressed me at Metyis was that people are straightforward, open, and non-judgmental. The hardest part of solving a problem is defining it, but tackling it becomes possible through constructive criticism and sincerity. 

Enhancing transparency and communication keeps the team connected. For example, I discovered that the UI/UX team was carrying out online controlled experiments during an organisational sharing session, so I reached out and offered my support ranging from experiment design to analytics. It turned out that they urgently needed data people to get involved with the A/B testing.  

From daily stand-ups to casual catch-ups, building rapport brings people closer. In a kind and supportive environment with the understanding that we all have individual paces and priorities, we can work effectively together, even with co-workers from other offices whom we have never met face to face. Besides online engagements, we can connect through global events, team events, Porto academy training, local office events and sharing sessions. 

Driven by efficacy

Content with where I am, I feel I’m using this ‘bonus’ to its utmost. I’m in a place where I feel valued, encouraged to implement change and constantly inspired to learn. I’m driven by how effectively I can use my time and resources so that no moment is wasted, bringing the most positive impact to every decision, though I accept this will be a life-long pursuit. Outside of work, I have my family here in Zurich and a child, who brings me great joy; we love reading together and all taking road trips.  

In my leisure time, I undertake personal data projects and have even continued to play music.