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University of Michigan School of Information


Faces of UMSI: Koon Leong Ho

Koon Leong Ho (right) and daughter

After passing major milestones as a part-time MADS student, Koon Leong Ho’s best advice for those considering entering the MADS program is to “prepare for a marathon.” 

“It requires strong personal commitment as well as support from family and employer,” Koon Leong said, “... [but] if you can manage the balance, the demands of the program are not difficult to keep up with.” 

Koon Leong, who lives in Singapore, has valuable advice for would-be Wolverines, as a Wolverine twice over himself. He received his BS from the University of Michigan in 1984 with a double major in computer science and psychology. He said when UMSI came up as he was exploring data science programs on Coursera, he decided to go back to Michigan ⁠— virtually ⁠— because it’s an institution he’s familiar with and he trusts. 

Currently managing the analytics requirements for a hotel chain, Koon Leong said the MADS syllabus covers everything he was seeking to learn and more. 

“It is a varied program with a balance of technical and non-technical subjects,” he said. “The program has opened up many possibilities for me on how to leverage data at work, especially on how to use data to make more effective business decisions and how to communicate data science findings effectively.” 

And he’s already been able to apply what he’s learned in his coursework on the job. 

“I was working with an external consultant on an analytics project,” Koon Leong said. “The Supervised Learning and Unsupervised Learning courses gave me a very good foundation to work with the consultants and our internal team members effectively.”

Indeed, the balanced mix of topics on the MADS syllabus has been a boon for Koon Leong’s skillset as a data scientist. He was “surprised” to discover the program covered topics beyond technology, delving into areas that opened his mind, like data science ethics and communicating data science results. 

Beyond the diversity of the curriculum, Koon Leong said one of the biggest differences between typical data science courses on Coursera and the MADS program is the self-discipline required to meet deadlines. He called the one-month duration of each course “fast-paced,” but said that that also helps students keep moving through the program. 

“That helped to keep the learning momentum going,” Koon Leong said. “You just don’t have time to procrastinate. Every month is a fast trot.”

The Michigan tradition runs strong in Koon Leong’s family. His daughter just graduated from U-M too, in the spring of 2021