Esther Loo’s Journey from Academia to Data Engineering

Published by Afterschool.my on Mar 06, 2024, 11:53 am

In today’s world, data isn’t just valuable—it’s indispensable. From informing business strategies to guiding scientific breakthroughs, harnessing the power of data is the key to unlocking success in the modern era. 

Esther Loo pursued her academic aspirations with clarity, strategically carving a path toward a rewarding career. She obtained her Bachelor of Business and Commerce degree from Monash University Malaysia before furthering her studies with a Master’s degree in Data Science and Business Analytics at Asia Pacific University (APU). “I discovered an increasing need for professionals proficient in data science and business analytics through comprehensive research,” she explains, showcasing her deliberate approach to aligning her education with market trends and personal goals.


Esther Loo has a Bachelor’s Degree from Monash University Malaysia and a Master’s degree from APU

Finding her stride at Monash University Malaysia

As a globally connected university, Monash University Malaysia ensures that its students are taught by highly qualified academic staff from across the world. These instructors adhere to the same standards as the main campus in Australia, which has earned a reputation as one of the top 50 universities worldwide.

The university offers the Bachelor of Business and Commerce programme — which Esther chose — with several majors. She pursued a double major in Business Analytics and Banking and Finance. 

“With the increasing importance of data-driven decision-making, I chose to major in Business Analytics to meet the growing demand for skilled professionals in driving strategic business decision-making. Additionally, a major in Banking and Finance provides a strong foundation in financial principles, investment strategies, risk management and wealth management, essential for informed financial decision-making personally and professionally.”

Monash University is renowned for its diverse and inclusive learning environment. Students benefit from focused tutorial class sizes, emphasising small groups to facilitate interactive learning and meaningful engagement with course material. “The university prioritises practical, hands-on learning experiences, allowing us students to apply theoretical knowledge to real-world situations,” she says. “As a result, we leave with a solid grasp of theory and practical skills, ready to excel in our chosen fields.”


Receiving the degree scroll from Monash University Malaysia was Esther’s first milestone in her academic journey.

Students have nearly full access to all academic resources including online databases, e-books and reference sites, enriching the learning experience and deepening understanding of concepts. Additionally, as part of Monash University’s degree programme, Esther completed an internship in the finance department, acquiring on-the-job training at Plaza Premium Group before pursuing her Master’s degree.

Navigating Through Advanced Degree at APU

Being a university student can be one of life’s most exciting expeditions, where dreams are realised and the future is envisioned. The academic excellence displayed by Esther during her undergraduate studies secured her a scholarship to pursue her postgraduate studies at APU in Data Science and Business Analytics. The APU Postgraduate Merit Scholarship offers discounts on tuition fees of up to 30%, depending on the CGPA attained by students. 

When asked about the full-time course she undertook, Esther unequivocally affirms that her interest in data analysis and statistics motivated her to take a step further in her academic journey. 

“I chose to enrol myself in APU after discovering that it offers specialised training and certifications in data science techniques, tools and methodologies. This empowers us as students to utilise these skills for driving innovation and generating positive impacts across diverse industries.” 


Esther proudly dons her convocation robe, a testament to her dedication and hard work at APU.

Unveiled in 2017, APU’s new campus is located within a high-technology park environment and boasts state-of-the-art facilities, including auditoriums, laboratories and workshops, all meticulously equipped to enhance learning experiences. In addition to providing conducive teaching and learning spaces, the campus significantly focuses on cooperative learning, offering abundant communal areas and discussion spaces where aspiring young minds collaborate to generate innovative ideas.

What's more, the breakout rooms, inspired by the ‘think tank’ concept, are highly beneficial for project collaboration.

When inquired about the pastoral support she received during her tenure at APU, Esther singled out her academic supervisor. “I am grateful to Dr. Ho Ming Kang for his invaluable guidance and unwavering support throughout the completion of my thesis paper.” 

With Dr. Kang’s assistance, Esther successfully published a paper titled ‘The Application of Machine Learning in Agricultural Sustainability: A Review’ in The International Journal of Data Science and Advanced Analytics (IJDSAA). “His expertise and experience greatly enhanced the quality and depth of our research.”

Career of a Data Engineer

“My time at both Monash University Malaysia and APU has been eventful,” Esther says. “I strongly believe that the knowledge and technical skills gained from my degree helped me develop my skills in data analysis and statistical modelling, whereas the master’s degree provided more in-depth skills for real-world applications.”


Being a data engineer, Esther joined the Data AI World Tour as a delegate.

After completing her Master’s degree, Esther accepted a position as a Data Engineer at Plaza Premium Group. She is grateful for her education, which provided her with a solid foundation to efficiently work with large datasets and apply statistical techniques and AI algorithms to extract valuable insights. Her academic journey equipped her not only with technical skills but also the ability to adapt to dynamic business environments and contribute effectively to data-driven decision-making processes.

“As a Data Engineer, analytical thinking and problem-solving abilities are important, as we need to have the ability to assess complex problems, analyse data effectively, identify data patterns and have resilience in finding innovative solutions to the complex problems encountered.”

Pearls of wisdom

For aspiring students, Esther’s counsel is simple: welcome the unexpected, chase your passions and bravely venture beyond your comfort zone. 

“Before applying to universities, research the programs offered to ensure they align with your academic interests and career goals. Consider factors such as programme curriculum, faculty expertise, research opportunities and academic facilities.”

Esther also emphasises the importance of seeking relevant internship opportunities for practical experience. For her, returning to the company where she completed her internship marked the beginning of her exciting career journey. This underscores the significance of internships in establishing a professional network and cementing your credibility within the company, potentially leading to future opportunities. 

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