Current Degree and University?

PhD, Applied Statistics (currently) University of KwaZulu-Natal

What did you study at undergraduate level? 

BSc. Applied Statistics and Applied Mathematics

Why did you choose this degree?

Very flexible in terms of career choice, it is applicable in almost every field, moreover, Statisticians are in great demand. Statistics is a scarce skill.

Did you change degree / discipline choices at any point during your undergraduate studies? If so, please elaborate.


From high school, I knew I loved Maths, but I knew nothing about Statistics. I was only exposed to Statistics in first year at University and I immediately knew it was what I wanted to continue with.

I was initially registered for a Bachelor in Business Science (a choice influenced by family). I changed to Applied Statistics and Mathematics at the end of my first year, after completing my first level modules

At what point did you decide to pursue your Master’s or PHD?

From high school, I did not know there was a Masters or Doctoral degree.

I decided to do my Master’s degree during my Honours year. There was still a lot more for me to learn in the field.

After my Master’s degree, I decided to do my PhD.  I had and still have excellent mentors and supervisors (Professor Zewotir and Professor North) who are a great support structure. They played a very crucial and undeniable role in my growth, they still continue to do so.

What / who helped influence your decision?

Professor North.  She gave a talk during my Honours year, encouraging us to do a Master’s degree in Statistics. She explained clearly, the benefits of pursuing such a degree.  Also, she was my Honours project supervisor and I have worked with her since then.

Professor Zewotir – HE HAS A LOT TO OFFER! HE IS THE SMARTEST PERSON I KNOW! He is a true inspiration.

Myself –  Whilst doing my Master’s degree, I was part of a number of winter-school graduate programmes in companies. Being exposed to those programmes confirmed my love for academia and want to do a PhD.

What benefits, in your opinion, have you gained from pursuing a Master’s or PHD qualification?

Critical and radical thinking.

Much improved analytical and data analysis skill.

I am better equipped to:

  • Independently pursue data driven research.
  • Be an academic and a researcher.
  • Make a change in research and in the teaching and learning of upcoming graduates.
Nombuso Zondo - PhD, Applied Statistics (currently) University of KwaZulu-Natal