Ymy (correctly spelled Y My) Černá Vu was born in Vietnam and at the age of 2, she moved along with her family to the Czech city of Varnsdorf. A city with large Vietnamese community. She finished her bachelor at the IES in 2013 and continued her master studies on University of Amsterdam, where she earned master's degree in Econometrics. Ymy started to work while studying in Prague as a junior analyst in M&A consulting firm. During her stay in the Netherland she completed the internship in the biggest Dutch online tourism company, where she developed forecasting models to optimize PPC campaigns in Google AdWords.
After moving back to Czech Republic, she initiated her fulltime career at Deloitte as a data science consultant, where she focused on development and implementation of predictive models, dynamic pricing and customer segmentation for banking and e-commerce clients. In 2018, she joined Avast as a Senior data analyst where she deals with product analytics for mobile and desktop applications. Ymy is at the moment on maternity leave with her little daughter. In her free time, she enjoys hiking in the nature, dancing and singing.
Ymy, you studied the master's degree at the University of Amsterdam and you focused mainly on econometrics. What exactly did studies in this field look like in the Netherlands? How does the Dutch approach to study differ from the Czech one?
My master program in Amsterdam took only one year, so compared to IES it was more intensive and I had to study throughout the whole year since exam period was every 8 weeks. It is also narrower and focused on one topic, for me it was Econometrics. This specific program was a lot theoretical (yes, I did not run away from mathematical proofs) and it demanded programming – mainly in Matlab. However, the last semester I had a choice to sign in for more practical course. I was offered by a lecturer to take part in internship at his firm and write a thesis using their real data. This was a very useful connection of academics and business sphere.
You have worked in various positions, as a business analyst for mergers and acquisitions, a consultant in the "big 4" and then as a data analyst, where you work until now. How would you assess your career development? What led you to new positions, was it by chance, or did you have a system of “building” your career?
M&A at VICF was really good experience mainly thanks to the boss Michal Poplar, but I somehow was more interested in data and econometrics than finance world. In Deloitte, I was not a typical consultant. I was in the Advanced Analytics department, where 80% of the team were super smart “matfyz” people and we were focused on data science projects. “Those tech geeks” they called us ☺. So apart from creating shiny presentations in PowerPoint, I was coding in R and SQL as well. It was definitely the best start of my career and I will never forget - we had a great time with the team, interesting projects for variety of clients and again a great boss who inspired me and mentored me. My main trigger to join Avast was to focus more on online data. And also, who could say no to that famous Avast atmosphere of canteen, table soccer, gym or music studio in the office.
It is not a very typical career path, because usually people tend to move from data analyst to data scientist and I had the opposite. But I am satisfied with this way, I enjoy being a bridge between purely tech people (e.g. data engineers, scientist, developers) and business (e.g. product owners, marketing managers) and help them through data to make better and faster decisions.
So you work as a product analyst at Avast, what does it look like with gender equality at these positions at your company, and in this field in general?
In general, there are more men than women in Avast, but in my team 2 out of 3 are women. Avast has its own People diversity officer, so from this perspective it is a good place to be.
What is a key skill for a data analyst and what should people interested in such a career enjoy? Alternatively, how to profile yourself already during your studies, what to focus on?
How I see it is, that there are many different types of data analysts – you can have e.g. data engineer, data scientist, data visualization analyst… all required different skill set. But a common must is SQL, perhaps combined with R/Python or any basic knowledge of programming language is a plus.
Besides technical skills you obviously must have analytical thinking and you should like numbers but that holds for all IES students, I think. Important is to link the data mind with business logic and be practical and effective. Sometimes it also required to be a detective, so you can find some specific patterns and issues in the data.
At my studies at IES, I really enjoyed Econometrics course with Josef Barunik. But nowadays I see that there are plenty interesting new courses such as Data Processing in Python or Data Science with R. This is a great opportunity to learn during the studies. I also encourage students to start working or take part in internship during the studies, so they can touch a real business data and use cases.
You are now on maternity leave with your first baby, how do you enjoy it? Are you planning to return to work soon, are you already working or are you a mother who really enjoys stay at home with her child?
I think, in general ladies from IES are more carrier oriented than family type (there are exceptions of course), I would say I live in a special social bubble. You go to the top school in Czech, you survive four semesters of math, then you go abroad to have even better education, then you try to get to the top companies, build your carrier path… And decided to start a family before 30s. Let’s be honest, in Czech society it is still not really common that men go for paternity leave, especially those who graduated from IES (as my husband). But it depends of course on each situation. So, the beginning was not really easy for me, because my social bubble was far away from having kids yet and I did not have anyone to share those baby joys with or at least to spend time during the day, because they were simply at work.
But I have to say that having a baby is the most life-changing, unique and challenging project of my life. It taught me how to prioritize things in my life, improved my time management and multitasking skills. I love my daughter and I love being mom.
Anyway, after 9 months on maternity leave, I started working part time for Avast as data consultant and I plan to return full time after one and half year, but let’s see how it all turns out.
What about free time, do you have any left for hobbies?
I was never a super workaholic and I always manage to have my free time activities – I like singing, dancing and various type of sports (yoga, table tennis, pole dancing, bouldering). Time and activities are now more limited with a small kid and during Covid era, so what I really enjoy these days are hikes to nature in the mountains or a family bike trip.