MANILA, Philippines – Tucked away in BGC, there lies a growing team with big dreams of putting the Philippines on the map for data sciences. While founded by seasoned executives bringing their expertise from various industries, more than half of the office occupants are millennials.
It’s not what you’d imagine a startup would look like.
A start in data analytics
Founded in 2016, Cobena Business Analytics & Strategy, a management consultancy and data analytics startup, describes itself as a place where the best minds come together to make a difference. They believe in building businesses to empower the nation and helping successful enterprises become smarter than ever.
In the span of a little over two years, the company has quickly moved from working inside coffee shops to not having enough of their own office space for their growing number of employees.
Moreso, their work has been gaining attention, along with accolades. They were recently recognized as one of APAC CIO Outlook’s Top 10 Business Solutions providers in 2018.
I’m led to a board room where a group of six begin to gather.
All in their early-to-mid twenties, their team chemistry is evident—they rib each other with inside jokes and nicknames are thrown around.
This is Cobena’s brand of data professionals.
Majority of the six have been with Cobena since its early days, I learn. It being their first or, at the most, their second job.
Coming from backgrounds like Geodetic Engineering, Industrial Engineering, Computer Science, Management Information Systems, and Communications Research, I ask the group what led them to venture down the path of data science.
The group shares how they stumbled upon data analytics, a fairly new industry, and how, coming into Cobena, they realized that what they knew of data analytics was only the tip of the iceberg.
Senior data analyst Ben Harder shares, “My background is actually Geodetic Engineering...medyo malayo siya sa data analytics (it's not exactly data analytics),” he clarifies. “I sort of just accidentally found Cobena. Then I just realized that there are a lot of things that I learned in college that can actually be applied to what we do.”
Anton Yamzon, another senior data analyst, adds “Nasabi ko na lang na ‘I want to go into data science’ when I was here na (I was only able to say that 'I want to go into data science' when I was already working here). Going out of college, what I just wanted to do was to apply Math in general, that skillset. When I joined, that’s only when my interest in analytics grew.”
“Before it was, ‘If I know MS Excel, I know data analytics’,” she shares. “I had known of big data—how social media was creating so much data every day. But it was really only after joining Cobena that I got a very real experience of how data is actually useful to businesses.”
Mari Arambulo—who feels like she’s coming from the opposite side of the spectrum being a Communications Research graduate—agrees even more strongly. Working now as Cobena’s senior digital and research executive, she says back in university, the extent of her exposure to data science came from her statistics subjects.