Paul Seufert is a third year EngSci student specializing in Mathematics, Statistics, and Finance. The way he got involved with ILead is a bit of a funny story and earned Paul the nickname of “Pizza Bandit.” He followed one of his friends to the Club Leaders Roundtable with the temptation of pizza, but the meeting ended up acting as a catalyst to help him form his own club.
When Paul was in his second year, one of his professors started the University of Toronto Data Science Team. The club generated a lot of interest at first, but soon fizzled out and there was no retention, due to lack of proper leadership. Paul still saw potential in the club, and had been thinking of providing it some new direction. This is where the Club Leaders Roundtable community came in to play. At a Club Leaders Roundtable meeting, Paul presented his ideas to other club leaders, and was provided with a lot of encouragement to go through with his ideas, and advice on how to properly execute them.
Paul has been to a number of Club Leaders Roundtable since then, and has also been undergoing mentorship under Jordan Daniow, Leadership Education Specialist at ILead. He mentioned that one of the most valuable things that he has learned from the Club Leaders Roundtable was the importance of speaking to team members one on one and respecting their needs and motivations for joining the club. Speaking to the peers on the Data Science Team, he found out that one teammate was extremely interested in cloud computing, and he had joined the club as a stepping stone to understand more about it. This inspired Paul and his team to pivot off of that idea, expand their scope, and form a branch of their club that focused on cloud computing.
Akin to a lot of other clubs, the Data Science Team has been facing issues with regards to sustainability. They’ve been generating a lot of interest (almost up to 10 applications a day!), and they want to ensure that they can sustainably manage this amount of growth. Also, retention is a huge issue, and they cannot afford to train individual members, of whom 70% will leave. To tackle this problem, they have decided to implement recruitment periods, wherein they will hold a few training sessions to ensure that new members are up to speed on the basic competencies of the club. “Since, data science is extremely multi-disciplinary, it is difficult for one person to have all the basic skills needed when they join the team, this is why these kinds of tutorials were necessary,” says Paul.
For Paul, ILead has been imperative in his journey to get this club up and running. He said: “The biggest thing is being able to talk to people who have had similar problems. Knowing that I have people to talk to and figure this out, makes it a lot easier.” He also stated that the coaching with Jordan has been extremely beneficial, especially in helping him remain accountable by generating deliverables every week.
The Data Science Team now has 20 members, and is slowly expanding. They have been offered sponsorship by IBM and are in the process of merging with Data Science Toronto.