NAS Women: Believe in the potential of the youth

Posted on August 05, 2021

NAS Women: Believe in the potential of the youth
Women's Month: Focus on Prof Andriëtte Bekker

Q: Job title and in which department/research entity do you work? 
Professor and Head of Department of Statistics

Q: What has been the highlight of your career? 
I have been fortunate enough to experience many different highlights in my career. My career started with a high note when I received the S2A3 medal for my master's, and obtaining a PhD must count as one of the momentous occasions of my career. Furthermore, it would be selfish not to mention the excellent PhD candidates I was able to work with throughout my career. For example, seeing Dr Seite Makgai become the first black woman to obtain a PhD in Statistics at the University of Pretoria was undoubtedly very special. Lastly, it is extraordinary to be a part of the platinum era of data science and see the demand for advanced statistical analytics grow worldwide.

Q: What inspires you?
I am inspired by a beautiful piece of statistical methodology. Analysing problems and making plans – whether in my research or my role as HoD - thrills me. Further, seeing my students flourish in their academic careers and collaborating and solving problems with like-minded individuals across the globe also serves as sources of inspiration.

Q: What challenges have you experienced in your career?
Our discipline's sustained and increasing industrial interest makes for a challenging environment to retain talented postgraduate students.

Q: What message do you have for the youth of South Africa?
Let me start by saying that I was privileged to work with extremely talented young people in my career. I never fail to be amazed by their ability to produce outstanding work and develop into academic citizens that advance the profession's future. So my advice would be to enjoy what you do, create a vision for yourself, and focus all your energy on your next move. And, of course, to study statistics!
"Data is the sword of the 21st century, and those who wield it well, the Samurai." ~ Jonathan Rosenberg ~

- Author Martie Meyer
Published by Martie Meyer

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