Big data master's graduand Uzma Ali, who went back to school after hitting a mid-career plateau, has secured a position as a business intelligence and ETL developer with Providence Healthcare.

Deep-dive into data propels career

June 05, 2017

Uzma Ali is a big-picture thinker. After hitting a mid-career plateau, the master’s in big data graduand and mom-of-one decided to go back to school.

“I loved my job, but I wanted to dive deeper into data analysis and business intelligence, and do more advanced work,” says Ali.

Originally from Pakistan, where she earned an undergraduate degree in engineering, Ali worked as a web developer in Dubai for several years before forging a career as a business analyst in Vancouver.

She relished the intellectual rigour of analyzing data to generate business solutions, and this eventually led her to SFU’s professional master’s program in big data.

The 16-month program, which includes a paid co-op work term, was developed to meet the skyrocketing demand for data science specialists who can manipulate, store and analyze extremely large and varied data sets.

Equipped with these skills, Ali has already landed a job as a business intelligence and ETL developer with Providence Healthcare.

 “I’m integrating and streamlining data from a huge variety of sources, to give healthcare organizations a full picture of how they are serving people,” says Ali.

The provincial government uses this data to predict future financial requirements for hospitals, so its accuracy is key to improving patient healthcare. 

“I see real impact in what I’m doing and I find that very rewarding,” says Ali.

While studying and working part-time to help support her family, Ali also inspired and mentored the next generation of women in computing science. 

She volunteered as a keynote speaker and workshop instructor at several SFU outreach events for girls, including Go Code Girl, Girls Get IT and Technovation.

“It’s my way of giving back,” says Ali, whose son, mom and husband – who works in IT sales – will cheer her on as she crosses the convocation dais on June 6.

In fact, her son, who is now 16, plans to follow in her footsteps and study computer science at SFU after graduating high school. “He already wears my SFU hoodie all the time,” says Ali.

Fortune favours the bold, and Ali’s deep-dive into data has helped to propel her career forward. 

“I came to SFU with the mindset that I wanted to expand my knowledge and I can tell you now – I don’t regret that decision at all,” says Ali.

“I now see the road as wide open in the area that I really wanted to be in.”