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Staff member walks work-life tightrope to graduate with distinction

Michael Turnbull
Michael Turnbull is a Market Insight Analyst in the Strategy, Planning and Policy Development at RGU, and he recently graduated with distinction from the university after completing his MSc in Data Science.

I have extensive experience in Market Research as both an Analyst and a Manager specialising in quantitative research and worked in sectors ranging from consumer goods to charities on projects including new product development, customer segmentation to advertisement testing and development. I perform a similar role at the university now by helping RGU develop a better understanding of our target markets as well as aiding new course development.

During my career, I’ve observed a growing trend in Market Research - the increasing use of blending ‘big data’ sources together and statistical modelling to explain consumer behaviour. In order to improve and expand my skill set in this field, I decided to pursue a degree in the subject area.  The Data Science course at RGU provided me with the modules I felt were relevant to my working requirements going forward.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time as a student at RGU. One of the things I enjoyed enormously, after returning to study a prolonged period, was immersing myself in the process of learning again.  After eight years of having been in full-time employment, I was used to approaching projects in a very set way. As a student, it was great to stretch myself to think differently about the assignments set by lecturers.  Additionally, and perhaps more importantly, I had forgotten how much I enjoyed learning and being surrounded by knowledgeable staff and students was a fantastic experience.

I also really enjoyed the assignments despite them being challenging.  The two that stand out are my final dissertation, where I was allowed the time to develop a model on a subject I was passionate about, and also a group task in which I worked with a mix of students with different work and cultural experiences to my own.  We worked on building a model to understand the factors behind crime rates in different Scottish cities and I found it fascinating how members of my team utilised their own experiences to help inform the project. This culminated in, perhaps one of my finest presentations, where we presented our findings to other students whilst dressed as private investigators and distributed doughnuts to everyone in attendance.

I am delighted about graduating with distinction – it is a real testament to the hard work done over the past two years! Furthermore, it also makes all my work-study-social life juggling (and several Sunday’s spent in computer clusters and the library!) worthwhile too.

I am incredibly grateful to the Data Lab funding my place on the course and supplying a network of students and companies to interact with; without this funding, I would have been unable to enrol on the course. 

As a staff member studying part-time, I also credit my managers for the support, patience and flexibility (as well as study leave to undertake my final dissertation) they provided to help me complete the course successfully. 

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