Ability to learn new things stays with you, says data scientist


Kaviraj Singh Khurana – Photo: Supplied

By Anandpreet Kaur | Thailand |

Kaviraj Singh Khurana studied aerospace engineering but has now moved into data science. But he has no regrets in choosing the subject for his undergraduate.

“Technology is changing so fast in every field right now. Many things that university teaches you become obsolete fast, but the ability to learn new things is what stays with you. The courses and skills I learnt during the course, especially the programming units, have a high transferable skills,” he tells Asia Samachar in an interview.

Today, the Liverpool fan since he was 9-years-old is a data scientist at Pomelo Fashion, a fashion tech brand/platform that started in Thailand nearly eight years ago and is fast expanding in Southeast Asia.

Excerpts from his interview.

Tell us more about yourself?

I was born and raised in Bangkok, Thailand and did my schooling in Thai Sikh International School. The school followed the British Curriculum but also had Punjabi and Sikh history subjects to make sure we were in touch with our roots. I was fortunate to get the opportunity to do my undergraduate in the UK. I graduated with a Masters of Engineering in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Bristol. During my first and third year summer vacations I did my internships at Thai Airways in Thailand and Genser Aerospace in Bangalore, India, respectively. It was during my internships that I realized Aerospace Engineering was not something I would want to continue my career in, I felt that it was too specific, which is when I started exploring different options.

I joined True Corporation, which is one of the largest telecommunication companies in Thailand for a management trainee programme. I had to sell SIM cards door-to-door in rural area in the province of Chonburi, Thailand as part of one of the rotations. It was an experience I’ll never forget, and something that taught me so much about the importance of communication. I also got to work in the data analytics department for a short while, and it was something I enjoyed the most. I like how it requires the combination of technical and business skills.

I didn’t really enjoy corporate culture too much and wanted to try out a career in startups, as I imagined my work would have more impact on the overall business. That’s when I applied to Pomelo Fashion to join their data science team. I loved the culture and my job here. This was more than two years ago, and I have been here ever since.

I also teach high school tuition Physics and Mathematics part time. Teaching is a passion I have had since I was in high school, and is something that I have been doing since I was university.

In my free time, I enjoy watching series, and I’m a football and F1 enthusiast. I have been a Liverpool FC supporter since I was 9-years-old. Going to the UK gave me the opportunity to witness the magnificent Anfield.

Tell us more about your parents?

My parents were also born in Bangkok, Thailand. My dad Prem Singh Khurana has a business, while my mom Hirdehpal Kaur is a housewife, but is also a part-time music teacher. She teaches Kirtan to mostly kids, and has been doing so for the past 20 years.

In general my parents have been extremely supportive of most of the decisions that me and my brother make. My parents have always stressed the importance of education, which has motivated both me and my brother to do our best while in university and at our jobs, and we see the fruits of it coming out now.

Tell us about your immediate family?

I have a younger brother, who’s working in Deloitte as a Tax Consultant. Funnily enough, he’s an Everton FC supporter, following my dad. So we always have this friendly rivalry at home during football games.

My extended family stems from Malaysia. My paternal grandfather Dalip Singh Khurana (from Kuala Lumpur) and maternal grandmother Iqbal Kaur (from Ipoh) were both born in Malaysia. Our family is known as ‘Malaysia Wale’ here in Bangkok. So I used to travel to Malaysia nearly every summer or winter holiday until I was about 10, then we started exploring other countries/cities as well. I have a really strong connection to Malaysian culture due to this. I especially love Malaysian food!

What attracted you to pursue your studies in aerospace engineering?

Two key things influenced me. One, my dad has always loved planes. He would take me and my brother to the airport once in a while to watch planes land and take-off. This ignited my interest in planes. Second, since high school, mathematics and physics were my strongest subjects, and engineering seemed like the degree that could give me the best of both the subjects. Combining the two, it didn’t take me very long to pick Aerospace Engineering.

Any regrets in pursuing that path?

Well, one’s analytical skills and ability to learn new skills are amongst the most important skills in any field. And Aerospace Engineering, being one of the most rigorous engineering fields, really did develop both of these skills in me that has benefitted me up until today. Technology is changing so fast in every field right now. Many things that university teaches you become obsolete fast, but the ability to learn new things is what stays with you. The courses and skills I learnt during the course, especially the programming units, have a high transferable skills. So, I have no regret in choosing Aerospace Engineering for my undergraduate.

You’re a data scientist at Pomelo Fashion. What does this job entail?

Pomelo Fashion is a fashion tech brand/platform that started in Thailand nearly eight years ago and is expanding rapidly in Southeast Asia. Data Science is an interdisciplinary field that combines computer programming, mathematics and business domain. As a data scientist, my job primarily entails creating statistical and machine learning models to enhance customer experience and optimize profits for the company. This involves inputting quality data into the above mentioned models to make accurate predictions. Being a fast fashion brand, it can be hard to predict the quantity of different styles to order. If you order too less, you lose potential revenue, whereas if you order too much, you end up with excess inventory. An example of a project that I am a part of includes the Demand Forecasting Model, where we use Machine Learning to find the sweet spot between maximum revenue with minimum excess inventory.

Would you recommend this path to students looking for a career in engineering?

Data Science is a relatively new field that is growing fast with the growth of technology companies in every industry. As these companies grow, more data becomes available to them, and the ability to use this data to optimize their business is what makes them stand out and beat competition. It is a challenging role, but I definitely recommend anyone interested to go for it! As for me, I love it and I think it’s as exciting as a job can get!

Any last word?

One thing that I would like to share to the readers and all the youngsters in college is, don’t be bound by your degree. Life is a lot more than that. The most important thing is to understand what kind of a life you want, and try to create/find a job that caters to that. Everything you study in university has some value to what you do or will do, even though it may not be directly involved.


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