Racheal Herlihy

Racheal Herlihy

Data Scientist, Shopify, Ottawa, Canada
Bachelor of Computer and Information Sciences in Computational Intelligence

Programming gives you the power to turn your ideas into reality, says Racheal Herlihy who completed a Bachelor of Computer and Information Sciences in Computational Intelligence.

“Many people believe technology is changing the world. But computers don’t have that power. People do.

“There’s a huge opportunity to make a real difference in the world with the right people influencing new technologies. I love that by being able to code I can create products that can help people and make a difference.”

After graduating from AUT in 2017, Racheal is now based in Canada where she is working for Shopify.

“I love that Shopify enables any entrepreneur to start their own e-commerce business, and I enjoy working on projects knowing that I’m helping our merchants grow their businesses. It’s a great environment to work and learn in. And I’ve had the opportunity to work on some super cool projects that are now live and being used by merchants, which has been really exciting.”

Bringing innovation to conservation
As a co-founder of start-up Squawk Squad, Racheal has also used her programming skills to make a difference to conservation.

“Every year, 25 million native birds are killed by rats, possums, stoats and other pests. Squawk Squad provides an app that allows anyone to collectively fund sensor-connected traps that are provided to bird sanctuary projects around New Zealand.”

Squawk Squad came into fruition at the Auckland Startup Weekend in 2016, where it was named the winning social enterprise. It has since teamed up with the Department of Conservation and other conservation organisations to provide a free education package, which was distributed to schools across New Zealand.

Squawk Squad’s innovative approach to conservation also saw it nominated at the 2017 New Zealand Innovation Awards.

Creating career-ready graduates
AUT is great at preparing students for the industry, Racheal says.

“I came to AUT as I loved the balance between theory and practical skills. It’s also known for its strong industry connections. For example, in the final year you do a research and development project, working alongside clients to solve real-life problems. This is invaluable and gives you the chance to practically apply all the learning you’ve done in your classes.”

She would highly recommend the Bachelor of Computer and Information Sciences, Racheal says.

“I would absolutely recommend this degree. The lecturers have really made my university experience – their passion and obvious knowledge is inspiring. I’ve learnt so much from them, and they’re always supportive and keen to help anyone wanting to go above and beyond their studies.”

Valuable international partnerships
Being able to look behind the scenes at technology giant Huawei was another highlight of Racheal’s studies.

“AUT has a strong partnership with Huawei, which offers scholarships to science, technology, engineering and maths students. I was accepted for the Huawei Seeds for the Future programme where students from around the world travel to Huawei’s headquarters in Shenzhen, China.”

This experience was an incredible opportunity, Racheal says.

“We were with a cohort of Japanese students who we became very fast friends with. The first week had us exploring Beijing, learning Mandarin, getting an introduction to the culture, and visiting historical sites like the Great Wall and Forbidden Palace. In the second week, we were at Huawei’s headquarters, learning about networking and future technologies uses like 5G and the internet of things.”

Squawk Squad website