Tue | Dec 1, 2020

Pursue a career in statistics - Amanda Lee encourages persons to become statisticians

Published:Wednesday | October 21, 2020 | 12:08 AM
Statistician Amanda Lee.
Statistician Amanda Lee.

Becoming a statistician was never something that Amanda Lee had planned on doing.

In fact, when the 27-year-old St Hugh’s High School past student started The University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona, her career goal was to become an economist.

“I did economics in sixth form, which I really enjoyed. Statistics, I kind of picked up along the way,” she said.

Lee says that when she started her Bachelor of Science degree programme in economics, she sought advice on a minor from persons who had done the economics programme before her.

“They encouraged me to pursue statistics as well. So, I ended up doing a double major in both economics and statistics,” she explains.

Lee graduated from the UWI in 2015 and landed her first job that same year as a statistician in the Research, Design and Evaluation Division at the Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN).

STATIN is the country’s national statistical agency. Its main functions are to collect, compile, analyse, abstract and publish statistical information relating to the commercial, industrial, social, economic and general activities and living condition of the people.

Lee said the decision to study statistics is one that she has never regretted and would gladly encourage other young people to pursue that career path, especially if they have a love for numbers and data.

“It is a broad profession. There are a lot of areas you can work in,” she notes.

STATIN employs statisticians at the entry, intermediate and senior levels in the categories of national accountants, international merchandise trade, indices, labour market, social, demographers, environment statisticians, sampling, methodologists, economic and multidomain.

“I would consider myself a survey statistician, that is, I am involved in questionnaire design, sample selection and data analysis,” Lee said.

She points out that as a statistician, one can work in the public or private sector and across various industries.

“For example, if you like statistics but you also like biology, you can be a biostatistician. If you have an interest in the environment and you also like statistics, you can combine both and become an environmental statistician,” Lee explains.

She says that with yesterday (October 20) being observed as World Statistics Day, her hope is that persons will become aware of how important data is to policy development.

Vital to national development

“Without statistics, informed decisions cannot be made,” she points out.

World Statistics Day is a United Nations event that is observed every five years. It aims to show that good data and statistics are indispensable for informed decision-making by all actors in society. The day was observed under the theme ‘Connecting the world with data we can trust’.

The young statistician tells JIS News that she is constantly learning and evolving in her field, as her job provides an opportunity to engage with other experts through participation in regional and national workshops.

Lee says that she is “happy” to be in a position that contributes to national development.

Meanwhile, Director of Research, Design and Evaluation at STATIN, Jessica Campbell, who is Lee’s supervisor, describes the young statistician as “humble, dedicated and hard-working”, adding that she has “really blossomed into a brilliant statistician”.

Campbell said Lee’s success at STATIN can be credited to her “willingness to learn and also her passion for her work”.