The Asian Institute of Management (AIM) Aboitiz School of Innovation, Technology and Entrepreneurship (ASITE) — the first graduate data science degree program in the Philippines — officially welcomed the 84 incoming students of its Master of Data Science (MSDS) Class of 2022 through a virtual convocation event last April 19. This is the pioneering program’s largest number of enrollees since ASITE was established through a USD10 million grant from the Aboitiz Group.
In his inspirational message during the program, Aboitiz Group President and CEO Sabin M. Aboitiz explained that the underlying reasons for the company’s strong advocacy of data science learning and development in the country are deeply rooted in shared value creation.
“Everything we do, whether collectively as a business or as individual members of an organization, is guided by our Group Purpose and Brand Promise—to drive change for a better world by advancing business and communities,” he shared. “Achieving that requires taking advantage of foresight, especially in times like these when everything has been upended. More than ever, the world needs data scientists who will be able to help us navigate through ambiguity and uncertainty.”
In addition to the MSDS program, AIM’s Aboitiz-supported school also offers Masters in Entrepreneurship (ME), Masters of Science in Innovation and Business (MSIB), and the Philippines’ first PhD in Data Science.
AIM President and Dean Dr. Jikyeong Kang described how ASITE’s MSDS program sets itself apart from other schools, primarily since the institution once known as “the Harvard of Asia” has always been recognized for innovation.
“We want people to be as solidly grounded in data science, but also who can speak the language of business, who can actually sit down with the business leaders, CEOs, and boardroom and discuss issues that are relevant and critical to business decision making,” she said.
Nearly a third of the program’s curriculum is made up of business and management courses, and to Dr. Kang’s knowledge no data science program is designed the same way.
Likewise, data science education in an institution like AIM means students become more well-rounded and adaptable, with the incoming class being composed of people from diverse backgrounds, professions, and experiences that span the Philippines, Hong Kong, China, UK, and Canada. More notably, the batch is made up of 42% female students — significantly higher than the global average of female practitioners in the field of data science, which hovers between 15 to 22%.
Meanwhile, Dr. Chris Monterola, ASITE Head and Aboitiz Chair in Data Science, highlighted to students the enormous potential that data science and innovation can bring to create a better world.
“We are a community of innovators and entrepreneurs, and in this era of Industry 4.0, the most valuable companies in the world is a combination of a mastery of data and an entrepreneurial mindset. Through technology and entrepreneurship, we hope that we can get back, innovate, and build a better society,” he explained.
Since 2018, ASITE has been building the next generation of world-class data scientists in response to the demand for skills and talent in this field. From there, the school quickly rose as one of the region’s premier academic institutions for data science and innovation. By June 2021, the school is expected to have 150 graduates working in many leadership roles in the country and in the region—an impressive feat for such a nascent program.
Mr. Aboitiz commended the MSDS students for taking this bold step towards carving new possibilities not just for themselves, but also for those who may not have the opportunity yet.
“Our hope is that whichever path you follow, it will be one that delivers solutions that address the challenges humanity faces, especially for our most vulnerable communities. We have only begun to scratch the surface of how data science can change the world for the better, so I encourage you to keep experimenting and learning,“ he concluded.
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