Marie Mørk is a consultant at Accenture. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Physics from the University of Copenhagen and a master’s degree in Mathematical Modelling and Computation from the Technical University of Denmark.
Please give a description of the work you do in your current position.
I am employed as a data scientist/consultant in Applied Intelligence at Accenture. In Applied Intelligence we focus on projects within AI strategy, data engineering and architecture, and data science and machine learning. Given my background, I especially focus on projects in the last category. Being a consultant the work I do is dependent on the projects that we sell. This means that I sometimes work with something slightly different from data science.
A typical data science project for a client could be to explore their available data and do ideation to help them create a roadmap for future model development or to help them build a POC (proof of concept) of a model to help them optimize a business process. Very often, we would work together with other data engineers or data scientists from the client’s office to achieve an optimal solution and ensure that they are able to maintain it when the project concludes.
One thing that is very different when working with data science in the industry, and especially as a consultant, is that the business case is extremely important for the product you are developing. When doing research, you might spend a lot of your time fine-tuning the model. However, when working in the industry, you always need to make sure that you can justify the time you are spending and the associated cost. This often means that you cannot spend as much time fine-tuning your model, because the increase in the precision is not enough to make up for the time you spend.
Besides working at the client site, I do internal work at Accenture to build our community as well as contribute to writing proposals.
How do you use the skills you learned as a physicist or engineer in your work?
The first thing that comes to mind is the ability to break down large problems. When we are selling a solution to a company, we are not going to fix all their problems at once. We need to be skilled at scoping the problem and show how the solution can fit into their existing business and create value.
The same thing happens when we arrive at the client site to implement a solution. We need to be able to zoom in on the important details and ask the right questions. If not, we will waste time on something that is not important for our solution which can cause delays and ultimately result in the project not being profitable for us to work on.
What made you decide to pursue a career in the private sector?
I applied for jobs within both the public and private sectors when I graduated. In general, I was very unsure about what I wanted to do and as such, it seemed a good solution to work as a consultant and try a lot of different projects and workplaces out at the beginning of my career, before “settling on something”. Today I really enjoy working as a consultant and don’t see it as a temporary employment anymore.
What motivated you to study physics or engineering in the first place?
I decided to study physics when I was introduced to the double-slit experiment in high school, as it made absolutely no sense to me. It’s still weird.
What advice would you give to young people (in particular women and minorities) who would like to pursue a career in the private industry or public sector?
I think the job market is changing a lot these years. When I started to interview for jobs, I was saying what I thought they wanted to hear. For instance, that I was fine working 60-hour weeks – luckily, I did not get that job. Although it is hard, I think it is very important to figure out not just where you want to work but how you want to work. The “dream job” might not fit with the rest of your life or values. If you are honest about your wishes and demands you might feed into a change that the company is trying to make, and they might see it as a strength to hire somebody who can contribute positively to their company culture. And if not, you might have dodged a bullet.