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Inaugural conference to make data science accessible to everyone

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Henry Thai
// // We spoke to WA Data Science Innovation Hub (WADSIH) Director Alex Jenkins about the conference...

The Data Science for Business Conference and Exhibition, hosted by WA Data Science Innovation Hub (WADSIH), will be running for the first time this June.

From 22 – 23 June at the Pan Pacific Perth, the conference is focussed on making data science more accessible and showing the benefits it has for business. 

WADSIH Director, Alex Jenkins, told Startup News:

“We feel that data science and artificial intelligence will be a massive competitive differentiator going forward and our remit from the government is to ensure as much of the WA community is aware of what is happening in this space.”

WADSIH Director, Alex Jenkins

Democratising data science

Alex said that with the volume of data businesses are currently generating, it’s a great opportunity to leverage data for business growth and value. 

“We do find a situation where digital and data literacy is more important than it’s ever been, but WA organisations might not necessarily have the personnel or the skill sets to really analyse that data and derive insights from that data. It makes sense to think data is an underutilised asset from an organisational perspective.”

It’s not as difficult to as you may think to take advantage of data. It isn’t simply a PhD in a digital ivory tower outputting incredible predictive models.

It’s a great community with many facets we can all play a part in to leverage data and improve business, with the Data Science for Business Conference and Exhibition a great place to start.”

Broadly speaking, Alex explained there are data scientists, and data professionals who work alongside data scientists.

While data scientists create the models, data professionals help collect data and prepare it for modelling.

Broadly, working in the data science discipline comes under three broad brackets: data engineers, data analysts, and data scientists.

A footnote to the above, while data science may have the visage of being a highly technical and challenging field, you’ll be surprised, and Alex noted the conference is not a highly technical one, focussing more on people who are beginning on their data science journey. We don’t need everyone to become a data scientist. Instead we need all professionals in Western Australia to gain a basic understanding of data and analytics. We want people to be able to spot opportunities in their organisations that can be driven by these new technologies.


It’s another jobs mecca for Western Australia as we look to diversify the state’s economy. Alex said “We estimate Western Australia will need 3,000 more data scientists by the end of 2030.”

It’s also an opportunity for the state to grow a diverse and highly inclusive industry. While data science has the reputation for being male dominant, the Data Science for Business conference is tackling diversity on two fronts: women in data science, and neurodiversity in data science; indeed, it’s the theme of the conference!

Women in Technology WA (WITWA) is an event partner, with the conference also supporting neurodiverse attendees in various ways including a quiet room to take a break from the stimulation, along with coloured stickers to help with networking.

“We’ll be featuring a a traffic light system for attendee interaction – if someone has a ‘red dot’ on their name badge, we are requesting exhibitors and other delegates not to approach this person for conversation until the other person initiates the discussion. If someone has an orange dot, it will mean ‘you can initiate conversation if you know me’ and green means free interaction.”

Alex also noted that “There are many neurodiverse people out there who remain underemployed,” and that data science is a fantastic place for neurodiverse individuals to apply their skills and talents. 

Alex also encouraged students to attend to see the great career opportunities that exist in the discipline. He noted that the skills are highly transferrable across every industry sector.

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Henry Thai

Henry studies engineering at Curtin University. He has a diverse set of interests and was previously a journalist and news presenter for 107.3fm and The Wire National Current Affairs on Radio.
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