A change in career path pays off

Timothy Bowtell switched from engineering to data science to pursue a whole new ambition.


  • Follow your passions.
  • Push your knowledge boundaries.
  • Embrace creativity because data science is an art.


First degree earned
Bachelor of Engineering, Mechanical Major, at University of Queensland

Second degree earned
Master of Data Science, James Cook University

First career step
Mechanical Engineer, Origin Energy

Second career step
Quality Data Analyst, Friendly Society Private Hospital

Third career step
Senior Business Intelligence Analyst, Moreton Bay Regional Council



First postgraduate program in Australia to embed the SAS Academy of Data Science.

Program includes two SAS Academic Specialisations.

The Master of Data Science program is fully online.

Working with SAS was invaluable in honing my practical data science skills.


Q: Going back to the very beginning – when did you first start thinking about an analytics career? Were there any skills or talents you had when you were younger that led you in this direction?

A: I have always been fascinated with the concept of analysis – that process of starting with raw data and problem solving my way to an elegant solution. I first started thinking of becoming a data analyst when we moved to Bundaberg to pursue a great career opportunity for my wife. With very limited opportunities for a junior engineer in the region, I decided to put my passion for math and computers to good use and applied for the role of Quality Data Analyst at Friendly Society Private Hospital. Thankfully they took a chance on me, and so my new career journey began.

Q: Why did you apply to study at James Cook University and specifically the Master of Data Science?

A: While working for Queensland Health as an analyst, I decided I needed to upskill to embrace the wealth of knowledge in the ever-growing field of data analytics. I spent around two months researching all the different Master of Data Science programs and related courses around Australia and found James Cook offered not only an excellent online learning platform but also a comprehensive list of subject matter. I chose the Master of Data Science over the Master of Data Analytics to push my boundaries and learn new things.

Read more of Timothy's story

Q: How did studying for the Master of Data Science affect your thinking about what you would do once you graduated?

A: The course offered by JCU expanded my data science horizons far more than I ever expected. I had limited ideas about data science concepts such as machine learning, artificial intelligence and natural language processing, and learning these new skills really opened my eyes to the vast possibilities and diverse avenues I could take in my data analytics career.

Q: At what point did you learn about SAS? Did you take any SAS-oriented courses in university?

A: I first learnt about the SAS Platform in my master's, taking several SAS-oriented courses that focused on certification exams for SAS Big Data Preparation, Statistics, and Visual Exploration; SAS Big Data Programming and Loading; and SAS Certified Statistical Business Analyst Using SAS®9: Regression and Modeling.

Q: Tell me about your current job. What skills do you get to use? What do you like about it?

A: As a business intelligence analyst at Moreton Bay Regional Council, I work with a great team of data and IT professionals to provide analysis and reporting both internally and externally. From database warehousing to exploratory analysis, programming to visualisation, my role within council has provided many opportunities to utilise my skill set. I’m only a couple of weeks into the role, so I’m really looking forward to exploring their work with smart city approaches using IoT devices and data to apply machine learning, artificial intelligence and open data to a variety of their asset management and customer service efforts.

Q: Looking back on your entire education or career path, were there any roadblocks or problems you encountered? Anything you’d do differently?

A: Growing up in a small country town in Australia, the idea of being a data analyst wasn’t even considered; we didn’t even know what data analytics was! Choosing mechanical engineering provided an excellent foundation for my knowledge, but that decision to switch careers and follow my passion was a big step. The pivot from engineering into data analytics wasn’t always an easy one, as it required new knowledge and “starting again from scratch.” However, I enjoyed the challenge and love my new career.

Q: What other advice would you give to a university student thinking about wanting to learn about SAS?

A: Jump onto the SAS website and give their free training a go! SAS Training offers a plethora of free online videos, courses and software trials to begin your journey. During my studies I was blown away by their extensive array of training materials. Explore them all and in detail. SAS proved itself to be a very deep and powerful tool, and there’s a lot to learn!

Q: Anything else you’d like to mention?

A: Both SAS and JCU have provided me with invaluable opportunities and learnings. It is a pleasure studying and working with them.

Find your passion and pursue it.


SAS® Academy for Data Science

Timothy took in-depth data science training to help prepare him for his next career.

SAS® Free Training

Timothy suggests taking advantage of free training courses from SAS to learn new skills.

SAS® Certifications

Getting certified helped Timothy validate his knowledge of SAS technologies.

Impact of a SAS® Certification

"I’ve had several job interviews recently, and found that having SAS experience on my résumé was very attractive to many companies. It showed potential employers that I had not only academic knowledge, but practical experience in industry-leading data analytics software."

SAS® Academy for Data Science

After enrolling in the SAS Academy for Data Science, Timothy says he developed skills in big data, with extensive course materials on Hadoop, Hive, Pig and in-memory statistics.

Qualities of a Data Scientist

Curiosity, communication, creativity and collaboration are all qualities of a data scientist, according to Timothy. He says that all of his data analytics projects start with curiosity, followed by collaboration and communication with other professionals to scope the problem. Creativity helps him find the best solution so he can present the data in a visually engaging manner.

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