Steve Mudute-Ndumbe (MSci Mathematics 2014, PhD Mathematics 2018) currently works as a data scientist for Vodafone Group. Steve enjoys the blend of mathematics, statistics, optimisation, and programming that a career in data science offers him.
Steve shares his Imperial story today as part of a Black in Maths initiative, for which he has participated as an alumni event panellist. The programme is designed to inspire, inform, and provide role models for current students in the department, to support their equality and diversity efforts and to raise the profile of opportunities for students from all backgrounds.
Why did you choose Imperial as the place to follow your interest in STEM subjects?
I didn’t know much about Imperial before I applied. I knew Imperial was based in London and focused on STEM subjects, and I had heard about the quality of the Mathematics department - that was all I needed to know in order to apply!
Who did you find inspiring at Imperial and why?
My Master’s and PhD supervisor, Dr Eva-Maria Graefe, was a huge inspiration due to her friendliness and work ethic as she juggled raising a family too. I remember meetings with her whilst she was looking after her newborn child, and plenty of conferences where she brought along her children as well. I thought she was an absolute superstar, and the plethora of awards and grants she’s received is testimony to that.
What is your fondest memory of your time here?
One of my top memories was in the spring term of my fourth undergraduate year. There used to be an empty computer room next to the Mathematics Learning Centre, and a group of friends and I ended up commandeering it for a month or so, resulting in a lot of fun (as well as work), in our own private office-like space.
Why do you feel it’s important to participate in events like the Black in Maths alumni panel?
For me it’s all about visibility and communicating with others - letting people know your story and where you came from. It’s also a great opportunity to hear from other people and their stories as well. Just hearing about other people’s walks of life allows you to open your eyes further and get more of an appreciation for all of the things that others have gone through... Every story is worth telling and listening to!
What advice would you give to those from underrepresented backgrounds who are thinking about studying a STEM subject, particularly at Imperial?
It sounds very cliché, but my honest advice would be that if you want to do it, you should go for it. I think that Imperial - being in the heart of one of the most diverse cities on the planet, is a particularly encouraging choice for those from underrepresented backgrounds.
Please tell us a bit about the work you’re doing now.
I work in a team of data scientists for Vodafone Group. We help the company put all their data to good use by building various customer-centric models and helping scale them across multiple markets and locations.
How has what you learnt at Imperial helped you in your career so far?
The ability to present and explain your findings to different audiences is key in data science, and it’s something I gained a lot of experience in during my PhD at Imperial.
What has been a career highlight so far?
Seeing the company actually put our work to use to help improve the experience of everyday customers is so rewarding, knowing that I’ve helped contribute to something so tangible.
What are your plans for the future?
I plan to continue working in the data science space. For me, it’s a fascinating intersection between mathematics and statistics, optimisation, and programming.
Do you have a favourite quote or saying?
Actually, a paraphrasing of a quote from fellow alumnus - Alex Mitcham, who is also one of the other Black in Maths panellists. When once asked what he would tell his younger self, he said: “you should be unashamedly, unapologetically Black”.