Transforming Information into Insights
‘In this information age where huge amounts of information are generated every second from multiple platforms, the need to translate raw data into useful insights presents great opportunities for a rewarding career in statistics.’
In today’s knowledge economy, the need to make sense of a wealth of information and translate raw data into useful insights for policymakers, businesses and the general public has never been greater.
Meet Huang Lihui as she shares about what inspired her to pursue a career as a Statistician at the Department of Statistics (DOS), what her work entails and what qualities are required to excel at the job.
Tell us more about your job as a Statistician.
I lead a team in the collection, compilation, analysis and dissemination of quarterly business statistics on the services industries. My job involves supporting users’ statistical requirements, reviewing and streamlining work processes, as well as participating in projects to enhance our business survey systems. I also keep abreast of current statistical developments in the international arena with regard to business statistics.
What inspired you to choose this career?
Having an affinity for numbers and an eye for details, a career as a statistician has been my ideal choice ever since I majored in statistics in university.
What challenges do you face and how do you overcome them?
In order to compile various short-term indicators, we gather information from selected companies through our surveys. One of the challenges of my job is to balance the constant need to improve the quality and timeliness of the data without imposing an extra burden on the respondents, such as through obtaining relevant information available from administrative sources.
Which aspect of your job do you enjoy most?
Raw data collected do not have much meaning. Organising and analysing the data to provide a reliable and relevant interpretation of industry trends is a challenge and at the same time my greatest source of satisfaction.
Share with us a memorable episode at work.
Statistical work is not just about numbers and data, but equally about teamwork and collaboration. During a recent divisional retreat, we were grouped into different teams and each team had to design and make a kite. The teams then competed to see whose kite stayed up in the air for the longest time. Although our team did not win, we enjoyed working together tremendously and had great fun bonding with one another.
Describe the work environment in DOS.
My colleagues are helpful, understanding and fun to be with. The necessary guidance and training are always provided. Outside of work, we have a lot of fun as well, including activities like a treasure hunt, an amazing race, a cycling trip to Pulau Ubin as well as a high-adrenaline excursion to Universal Studios!
Take us through a typical day at work.
Before the release of the quarterly business statistics, my team and I study the response rates across different periods and industries and prioritise the list of outstanding returns in order to improve the response rate. Thereafter, we go through the returns and investigate any outliers before compiling the data. Lastly, we analyse the statistical trends from the results of the survey and release our findings. Apart from this, I also work with data users on their statistical requirements, and handle new projects and initiatives.
Tell us about the development opportunities in DOS.
As DOS handles a wide range of economic, business, household and population data, there are ample opportunities to develop expertise in various fields of statistics.
What are the qualities of a successful statistician?
A statistician has to be both an independent worker and good team player. While there are assignments that require independent work and research, there is also collaborative work where team effort and open discussions are necessary.
In addition, as we handle a high volume of data, it is important for a statistician to be meticulous and analytical. The abilities to integrate data from various sources and conduct statistical analysis to identify trends and interesting patterns are essential.
Any advice to fresh graduates considering a career in statistics?
Apart from having sound statistical knowledge, effective teamwork and the ability to make rational judgements using statistical methodologies are critical. In this information age where huge amounts of information are generated every second from multiple platforms, the need to translate raw data into useful insights presents great opportunities for a rewarding career in statistics.
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