Overheard

Daphne Kis on using technology to lift up talent around the world

Innovators share ideas with WorkingNation Overheard at the Milken Institute Global Conference 2021
By Laura Aka
October 19, 2021

Making educational opportunity global is at the heart of the mission of nonprofit WorldQuant University. “Our goal is to leverage technology to bring access to talent,” explains CEO Daphne Kis, through free and online courses in data sciences.

WorkingNation sat down with Kis at the Milken Institute Global Conference 2021 in Beverly Hills as part of our #WorkingNationOverheard interview series. With Charting a New Course as the guiding theme, thought leaders and innovators shared ideas about the changing economy, worker development, education, tech, philanthropy, and more.

WorldQuant University offers a two-year program that leads to a Master of Science degree in financial engineering, and a shorter-term applied data science module that’s offered over 16 weeks.

Kis explains the significance of these pathways. “The first is a fully-accredited Master’s program in financial engineering, which is basically the intersection of financial management, data science, and computer science.”

“Our program is a two-year sequentially taught program, covering everything from computational finance to machine learning to data science, Python, visualization, et cetera. We are accredited since January of this year and we serve about 1,500 students around the world with 25% of our students in Sub-Saharan Africa, about 12% of them in the U.S., and then the rest distributed around the world.”

Regarding the Master’s program, Kis adds, “I’m a huge believer in the value of this degree, because the traditional MBA doesn’t focus on data science. The assumption is somebody else is going to do it. Our belief is that even if you’re not the person to do it, you need to understand that data, how it works, and what the engine is behind that.”

“Our second program is a data science course, an intensive 16-week course in applied data science, giving students the opportunity to each use the Jupyter Notebook, learn and iterate on Python, data visualization, and all the tools used in the data sciences these days.”

Kis says there are about 4,000 students on the platform studying the shorter-term program, with about 30% in Sub-Saharan Africa and 19% in the U.S. Students receive badges and credentials as part of their participation.

Kis also notes that employer partnerships are an important part of the school’s focus. She says companies should consider talent who might not have traditional degrees, but managed to complete the institution’s rigorous programming.

With particular attention being paid to how organizations are driving their initiatives on diversity, equity, and inclusion, Kis says WorldQuant’s model of free and online education is pushing those efforts forward with a global student population.

She does say that progress needs to be made in terms of a particular population. “Gender diversity is an issue. And these are industries in which we are working on strategies. Campaigns to help women who have backgrounds in computer science, in sociology, right? In other disciplines, social science disciplines, where basically they just need 21st century tools to continue to pursue the work that they have been doing.”

Click here to learn more about WorldQuant University.

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