UP doctoral student wins an International Professional Award at the premier event for SAS professionals

Posted on August 29, 2019

Patrick Sekgoka, a PhD student in the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering at the University of Pretoria (UP), received his International Professional Award at the SAS Global Forum 2019. His PhD research is jointly supervised by Dr Olufemi Adetunji and Professor Sarma Yadavalli.

"My PhD research area is in data science. Data science uses processes, algorithms, systems such as SAS, Python, R, etc., and theoretical statistics, among others, to extract knowledge from structured and unstructured datasets. I am investigating the use of complex networks to model cross-border financial flows. The primary objective of my research is to detect and impede illicit financial flows," said Sekgoka when asked what his research was about.

In April 2019, SAS users and business leaders converged on the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in Dallas, Texas, United States of America, for the SAS Global Forum 2019. The event is a learning-focused conference featuring over 5 000 of the brightest SAS users and experts the world over. It is an excellent forum for knowledge expansion and networking with other users at all skills levels. Sekgoka was honoured at this event, along with 14 other SAS professionals from outside the 48 contiguous US states. Other award winners, mostly data scientists, came from India, Canada, Brazil, Japan, Poland, and the United Kingdom.

To qualify for the award, potential candidates had to demonstrate their commitment to attend the conference by contributing content, which formed part of the conference proceedings. The winners were determined on the basis of submitted applications that described their SAS experience.

Sekgoka completed an international Master of Science degree in Engineering Mathematics (MSc EM) at the University of Twente in the Netherlands. The MSc EM is accredited by the European Consortium of Innovative Universities (ECIU). He also completed an International Executive Development Programme (IEDP) at the Gordon Institute of Business Sciences (GIBS). He is an SAS-certified advanced analytics professional with a proven analytical track record spanning several industries such as market research, consulting services, government, academia and banking.

Sekgoka is a data scientist employed by the South African Reserve Bank (SARB). Prior to joining the SARB, he held various positions in the banking sector: Head of Quantitative Analytics (African Bank Limited), Head of Credit Portfolio Management (First National Bank), Senior Quantitative Analyst (Development Bank of Southern Africa) and Quantitative Analyst (Standard Bank). He has done multiple presentations in both national and international conferences on topics around artificial intelligence, machine learning, and the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Sekgoka described winning the award as a career milestone and remembers the awesome experience of meeting and networking with other winners from all around the globe. He treasured the experience of presenting to a truly global audience from diverse backgrounds. He expressed his heartfelt gratitude for the financial support and mentorship provided to him by UP, making it possible for him to conduct his research, leading to his participation at the premier event for SAS professionals.

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