WiDS Conference Women in University panel
09 Apr 2020

UH Mānoa graduate student represents women in data science at first-time Hawai‘i conference

Elizabeth Fink
Elizabeth Fink, Hawaii Data Science Institute Data Science Fellow and MBA candidate

Polished, friendly and with an infectious smile, University of Hawai‘i (UH) at Mānoa Masters in Business Administration (MBA) candidate and Hawai‘i Data Science Institute (HIDSI) Data Science Fellow Elizabeth Fink shared her experience working in data science as a part of the Women in Data Science (WiDS) Conference Honolulu on March 4. 

University of Hawai’i, Chaminade University and IBM collaborated with Stanford University to bring the WiDS Conference to Hawai‘i for the first time. The annual global technical conference brings universities and leading-edge companies together to discuss the latest in research and applications of data science and machine learning with the aim of inspiring and educating data scientists worldwide, regardless of gender, and to support women in the field. 

Fink served as a member of the Women in University Panel along with a Chaminade University student and three other students from University of Hawai‘i. Fink, along with the other panelists answered questions about their experiences working in data science throughout their academic and professional careers. 

“It was important to have Lizzie on the student panel because she highlights many of the features that make data science so appealing,” said panel moderator and Hawai‘i Data Science Institute Fellows Coordinator Laura Tipton. “As an MBA student, she highlights the diversity of research topics that use data science, as someone who left O‘ahu for school and came back she highlights that data science is being done here in Hawai‘i, and as someone who is well-spoken, she highlights the value we place on communication in data science.” 

Fink, an Oahu native, began her journey into data science at Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota where she took a data analytics course as part of her undergraduate studies. Upon receiving her Bachelorʻs in Economics, Fink went to work for a non-profit organization for six years as a part of the supply chain management team. Through her non-profit work, Fink supported the distribution of meals to around 80 countries in need that totaled up to 250 million meals distributed annually and recalls the work she was apart of as fulfilling.

Returning to Hawai‘i in 2016 with the desire to be closer to home, Fink went to work for the stateʻs Office of Enterprise Technology Services and later joined UH Mānoaʻs Shidler College of Business MBA program and the Hawai‘i Data Science Institute. 

“In the job that I held at the time I was working with data in a limited capacity but I was excited about learning and exploring more…now Iʻm working on research related to risk management and itʻs been really rewarding,” Fink said. 

Inspired to serve on the panel at WiDS as an opportunity to reach out to high school students at the conference, Fink expressed her strong desire to pay-it-forward to others.  “I have really benefited from people investing in me– and to be able to offer what I can to the next generation…it’s just a great opportunity.”