Darragh Sherwin- MSc in Computing (Data Science)

Name: Darragh Sherwin

 Can you tell us your name, job title and the course you studied at ATU Sligo?  

Darragh Sherwin, Development Team Leam and I am studying the online Master’s in Data Science at ATU Sligo. 

Can you share your career path to date? 

Graduated in 2001 from NUI Maynooth with a degree in science and went to work for Sun Microsystems (it was the place to work if you were technical).  Over the last 20 years, I have worked in a variety of industries and government departments applying software engineering to the areas of legislation, parliamentary systems, public health, investment finance, healthcare and most recently e-commerce with Overstock. 

What does your current role involve? 

My current role is leading a team of software developers and machine learning engineers to personalize www.overstock.com (An e-commerce website). My team works with ML (Machine Learning) scientists to deliver new and better personalized recommendations and building the next generation of personalization platform. 

What motivated you to start studying?  

One of our core values in Overstock Ireland is Challenge Yourself, Inspire Others. My team recently moved into the algorithms department of Overstock which employs a lot of data scientists, ML scientists and ML engineers. The move highlighted a large skills deficit that I had when talking to my colleagues. I had always had in the back of head to continue further education. It felt like a natural alignment, moving into a department where data is important, the core value of Challenge Yourself, Inspire Others, and the moves in the IT industry to be more data driven. 

Why did you choose this course from ATU Sligo? 

Overstock has worked closely with ATU Sligo and we hire graduates from IT Sligo and they are always of impressively high calibre. The course modules aligned with my understanding of the area and seemed to give a good foundation to students. Also, with the application for technological university by ATU Sligo (formally IT Sligo), it added to the attraction. 

How do you find the process of studying online?  

It is great to have the flexibility of studying online. I have a young child so if I need to miss a lecture, I can come back and watch it later. There are great online resources for learning and college seems to have paid particular attention to ensuring online studying is very smooth with their tools like Moodle and Microsoft Teams.  

 In terms of your employer, were they supportive of your decision to study? Were there elements of the course that were particularly relevant to your current employer?  

Yes, Overstock gives us ½ day learning space/time each week for study and the course is very relevant with the move into more data-driven decisions   

 What advice would you have for anyone considering studying online? 

My advice would be to ensure you know the time-requirements of the course you are taking on and that you can work it in with other commitments like family, work, etc. 

Also, that you specifically mark out time in your week for studying and relaxation. It can be quite easy to get distracted with other things in life or not giving yourself enough time to relax and completely switch off in the week.  

 In what way has studying online with ATU Sligo benefitted your career? 

Upskilling for my role with Overstock as my team moves more into ML engineering.  

 Do you find that the elements you were studying had practical relevance in your day-to-day role?  

Yes, I can take techniques like linear regression and visualization and apply them to real-world problems we have at overstock. I can use dimensionality reduction techniques to visualize the large data sets we have. 

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