Philippines-based Reina leads a team of data scientists and engineers to develop analytics solutions for big businesses.
STEM and Reina go way back. And not just to high school where she excelled in maths and started exploring physics. The astrophysics-grad-turned-data-analyst, spent her childhood buried in encyclopaedias, frothing over planets, galaxies and black holes.
“From those books I discovered science and got fascinated by space,” she says. “Science was always my first love!”
After finishing high school, Reina enrolled in a Bachelor of Science (Physics) at Ateneo de Manila University, kickstarting a pathway that combined both of her STEM-based strengths.
“It melded the two most elegantly,” she said of the maths and science crossover, which later led her to complete a diploma in high energy physics and a PhD in astrophysics.
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The path to data
After a good run in some seriously solid data science roles, Reina scored a part time TV presenter gig on The Knowledge Channel’s popular science show Science Says where she essentially became the country’s own walking, talking encyclopaedia.
And yep, being a woman in STEM on TV in the Philippines is as huge as you’d think.
“Like many women in male-dominated fields, I’m no stranger to imposter syndrome. Learning about it and realising that most women— even the most successful ones — are not immune to it was a big step towards overcoming it for myself,” Reina explains.
“For a country like the Philippines which is still trying to achieve critical mass of STEM professionals, we need more women scientists and engineers simply because we need more scientists and engineers.”
Current analytics gig
Reina’s main 9 to 5 role isn’t as public as her TV gig, but it’s just as important and an equally big deal for women in STEM.
She leads a team of data scientists and engineers at conglomerate Ayala Corporation, developing analytics solutions that drive commercial value for clients.
“One of our big picture goals is to help bridge the gap between the demand and supply sides of the data science and analytics marketplace,” she explains.
“We facilitate learning sessions and events for analytics professionals and business leaders to serve as catalyst for fruitful collaborations.”
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Reina can totally scroll through Instagram on the job too. She refers to strategically increasing a company’s social media following as a particularly cool project that she’s worked on recently.
“I’m really happy and proud of the Pinoy Scientists project,” she says. “Through the efforts of my collaborator – science communicator Kami Navarro – it now has a strong presence on Instagram and Facebook with more than 10,000 followers.”
And her advice to young girls keen to break into a similar field?
“Go for it! Find a mentor who can help guide you through the journey. It is one of the most fulfilling and worthwhile careers you can pursue.”
Reina’s career and study pathway
- BS Physics, Ateneo de Manila University
- Diploma in High Energy Physics, Abdus Salam International Centre of Theoretical Physics
- PhD Astrophysics, Princeton University
- Host, Science Says, Knowledge Channel
- Head, AC Analytics, Ayala Corporation
Author: Cassie Steel
As Refraction’s digital assistant, Cassie Steel spends her days researching robots and stalking famous scientists on Twitter.