Information Quality Alum’s Success Story – Kashif Mehdi

The Office of International Student Services at UALR recently spoke with Information Quality Alum, Kashif Mehdi, to hear how his degree in Information Quality prepared him for his current career.  We are glad to share Kashif Mehdi’s success story as he tells it.

Kashif Mehdi

My name is Kashif Mehdi. I am a former graduate student of the MSIQ program, UALR. Today, I am here to share my experience at UALR and tell you how I got my job at Collibra, the no. 1 Data Governance company in the world and share some of the tips and advice that will help you gear up for future endeavors.

For me, job search is all about being focused, motivated and passionate. At UALR, I had my ground covered. I feel honored to have earned a Master’s degree in Information Quality at UALR, which is in collaboration with Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). This program is far more important than we could imagine, because UALR is the only institute in the US that teaches how to become an expert in data and information management technologies. This gave me an upper hand during my job search. I started going to career fairs and talking to different companies to gain an idea of what is in the market for me. Soon I realized that everything around us demands for a better solution to handle data complexities. Many companies are constantly striving to gain control over their business by treating data as an asset. I had worked in India for 3 years for a multinational company which gave me an insight on how business processes work but I didn’t know how treating data as an asset would make a difference as it would take a lot of effort to bring a cultural change in any organization. When I came to UALR and started my Masters in Information Quality it opened up many opportunities. I recall many of the companies I worked with before had a business problem that involved data. UALR is the only institute to develop techniques to handle any of those business problems. Learning those techniques was valuable to me; I had the opportunity to work as a research assistant at Department of Bio-Medical Informatics, UAMS and also lead the International Association for Information and Data Quality (IAIDQ) Chapter as the President. Working with great leaders and experts like Dr. John R Talburt, Dr. Umit Topaloglu and Dr. Mathias Brochhausen I developed and practiced skills I learnt at UALR.

While I was about to finish my capstone project, I learned about an opportunity at Collibra, a market leader in Data Governance. The position was exactly what I wanted. I really thank Dr. John R. Talburt for being there at each step of my success and his students, guiding me to choose the best career option. He is the great wall of UALR. Also, I would like to convey my best regards to all the faculty members; especially Dr. John Talburt, Dr. Elizabeth Pierce, Dr. Nitin Agarwal and Dr. Kim Sung-Kwan for teaching me the skills I needed to break through the job offer. To a great degree, I thank my Mom, Dad and friends for their concrete support.

Being a student at UALR, I learnt several techniques such as:

  • Data Quality and Data Management (SAS-DataFlux, Pentaho, Talend, Profiling, DQ Score Cards, MS SQL Server, etc.)
  • Data Analytics (data visualization, mining, algorithms, big data – Hadoop, R-Commander)
  • Data Governance (organizations, people, processes)
  • Entity Resolution (OYSTER Project)
  • Big Data (Hadoop)

I would like to encourage students at UALR to utilize all the valuable resources that are available at UALR.  Learn as much as you can, participate in events, career fairs, projects, etc. because I did it and it helped me to get where I am. Importantly, focus on skills that will help you understand the market trend and streamline your goal in life. This is the major area where students get confused and fail to realize “why they do things they do”.  Get your priorities straight and seek for help from your faculty members because they are the experts in what you choose to enroll.

Also, I would like to share some advice for applying for a job and facing interviews. Always, always be prepared with a short and precise resume (If you don’t have one, contact the UALR writing department immediately). Be prepared to answer any questions that would come around what you have mentioned in your resume, because this will help you build credibility with your interviewer. Do your homework, research the job profile and cross check with your skill set. Prepare if the employer focuses on a specific skill set in its job profile. Give it your best shot! Fundamentally, be confident while you answer and don’t be nervous. Let me tell you, everybody is nervous and we as humans share the same feelings of stress in certain situations. At Collibra, our Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer (COO), Mr. Stijn Christiaens later told me how nervous I was during the interview. He told me it was ok as I was answering all his questions. So, be prepared to answer!!

I wish the entire student community best of luck in their future endeavors. Go Trojans!!!

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