After bagging six awards with a First Class honours from Babcock University, 19-year-old Oluwateniola Shyllon was celebrated widely on the social media recently for clinching three other acceptances to pursue her M.Sc in three international institutions. In this interview by IMOLEAYO OYEDEYI, she explains how she intends to use data analytics to solve world problems and create value for the world’s largest businesses.
At 19, you emerged as a First Class graduate of Economics from Babcock University and you have also secured acceptance to pursue your M.Sc in three different international institutions, how does this feel?
I feel grateful, genuinely. God has been so faithful to me, and he has given me all that I have needed for this journey. I am also thankful to my parents and siblings for their love, support and care, as well as my other family members. I couldn’t have done this on my own without the support of God, my friends and my family. Currently, I’m really just spending a lot of time looking and applying for scholarships, because the amount of money my parents have spent on me is not a joke.
You hope to use data analytics to solve world problems and create value for the world’s businesses and enterprises; can you explain more on this?
I believe there is so much value in data, even beyond our wildest imaginations. I absolutely love Sherlock Holmes; this is something my dad and I have in common. I am thoroughly fascinated by Sherlock Holmes’ observational skills, investigative prowess and logical reasoning, as well as his authenticity. However, as an aspiring data analyst, his ability to combine evidence, intuition, and intellect to solve mysteries for his clients has amazed me; “Data! Data! Data! I can’t make bricks without clay”, he says. Like Sherlock, I also intend to make a career out of data deduction, to help global problems. Like clay to bricks, data, through Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning, have been used to foster advancements across cybersecurity, healthcare, human resources, finance, and consumer goods and services. These technological advancements are enabling massive transformations and creating immense value for individuals, businesses and governments – I hope to take part in this revolution.
For your final year project, you decided to venture into an area uncommon in your department, what informed this decision and what did you discover in the project work?
I knew that the stakes were high for my final-year. Project work is 30 units, which can make or mar your CGPA. So I wanted to be excellent. I wanted something unique and different, which would make me stand out from the rest of my peers, something that warranted an A. My project was focused on the socio-economic determinants of household energy demand in Nigeria, using the Stata software to analyse data obtained from the 2018 Nigeria Demographic Survey on 42, 000 Nigerian households.
My model was estimated with a binomial multivariate non-linear logistic regression model. It was especially tough for me because most of my lecturers considered my project topic as PhD level, with the type of software I used. I was asked “Shyllon, why must you do this topic? Why can’t you choose something for your level?” But I was committed, because I really wanted to prove to myself that Yes, I challenged and pushed myself. My supervisor was so supportive, and she pushed me to be excellent. I also got help from my mentors.
Of course, God cannot be underestimated here. By his mercies alone, was I able to do the project. I got an A, which boosted my CGPA.
What are the values that you will say propel you to achieve the honours you bagged at Babcock?
The first is the God-factor. I am completely convinced that without God, I would never have been able to achieve it. Another value was authenticity. At every point, I did what felt natural to me. I never tried to be anybody else at school, and I didn’t forget the values my parents imbibed in me.
So when I made a 4.91/5.0 CGPA in my first semester, I saw it as something normal. I did not begin to esteem myself or make it my identity. I took it with a pinch of salt and proceeded to work harder because I knew the journey had just begun. Lastly would be the relationships I had. I had amazing friends in school; to me, that was my greatest achievement; having the best people around me.
I had balance in my school life; I had fun, spent time with friends and got to do what teenagers do. I wasn’t cooped in the library all day. In fact, I played more than I read. Because I knew I didn’t want to leave school with any regrets. But I had the most supportive friends. I was engaged in so many extra-curricular activities; at no point was I ever without a part-time job or extra-curricular activity, right from when I entered school. I led the Babcock Finance Society team, I was also very active in other areas, including church and volunteering.
My grandparents, Mr. Olusegun Ogunsolu and Mrs. Christiana Ogunsolu constantly reminded me of the sacrifices my parents made for me, and believed in me, My uncles, aunts, cousins, parents, siblings; everyone was committed to my success.
Looking back, what does it take to make a First Class in a highly competitive department like yours?
First would be God. I know I’m sounding like a broken record now, but it’s true. I was also humble and committed to excellence. I never allowed people’s comments to get to my head. God has helped me to be humble, and get on track when I fall. In fact, many people didn’t know I was on a first-class. In my interactions, they could tell I was smart, because of my logic, reasoning, eloquence and problem-solving skills. But they didn’t know I was on a first-class. Another thing, like I mentioned earlier, is maintaining good relationships. I won “Personality of the Year” in my department. I think I’m good with people, and I try to help as much as I can. I also ask for help with my academics shamelessly.
Another important thing is knowing yourself. That’s why self-discovery is so important.
At your first degree, you studied Economics. But for your Masters, you are going for Business Analytics. What informed this choice?
A notable highlight of my journey to excellence was the impact made on me by an academy I attended over the holidays, where I learnt about data analytics. In my time at the Babcock Finance Society, I realised how much I enjoyed public-speaking, problem-solving and teamwork. So I figured consulting would be a good option for me.
Another thing is I knew was I wanted to create change, and solve real-world problems, and data analytics gives me the opportunity to do this. I would also learn how to use machine learning and artificial intelligence to develop technologies and applications to help people. So my background in Economics opened my eyes to the possibilities of data and contributed to my decision to study Business Analytics.
Findings have shown that data analytics is one of the keys to a successful business globally; can you explain more on this?
Data Analytics is the heartbeat of any business. Without data analytics, a business cannot review its performance for improvements, a business cannot predict or forecast, a business can’t even understand what it’s consumers want. I believe Data Analytics is revolutionising the world, and I’m really excited about it.
You have also had a stint with freelance writing and marketing as well as held a lot of leadership positions in just 19 years of your life, tell us more about these?
In school, I was so eager to discover myself. I kept taking course after course, internship after internship, project after project; I just wanted to know myself better. So I did a lot of writing, because I know how important communication is. I wrote grants, resumes, project proposals, I wrote for people and for businesses.
With my friends, Alex and Michael, we founded 2 initiatives. One was Creath Hub. We realised there wasn’t enough support for young people in unconventional careers; those not in blue-collar jobs, but creatives, tech enthusiasts and entrepreneurs. So through online trainings, we networked with industry experts to train young people on key skills. We are also trying to set up a business, but that’s still under cover.
You have taken the IELTS examination; tell us about your performance in it?
Oh! I loved the IELTS exam. I actually really enjoyed it; the English language is one of my biggest strengths. I got an 8.5/9.0 in speaking, 8.0/9.0 in listening, 7.5/9.0 in reading, and 7.0/9.0 in writing. This led to an overall of 8.0/9.0. With online YouTube resources and information found on the IELTS website, I was able to prepare for it. I also had friends that supported me.
FROM NIGERIAN TRIBUNE
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