Floriana Zefi

My role brings together all the things that I find fascinating

With a PhD in high-energy astrophysics, Floriana Zefi seemed destined for a career in academic research. However, she was instantly enthusiastic when she was headhunted for a position as a data scientist at ING.

Floriana was born and raised in Albania and studied both in her home country and in France, where she did her PhD. Floriana: “I moved to Amsterdam for this job at ING. The opportunity of working at an innovative bank, on interesting projects and in a country that had stolen my heart during an earlier visit was too good to be true. Besides that, I’ve always been interested in maths, science and finance, so there was definitely a match.”

Helping to make better decisions

“I started in the International Advanced Analytics team, a large team with colleagues in Amsterdam and Frankfurt. Since a restructuring programme in late 2018, we’ve been working in dedicated teams. Mine is Risk & Pricing. I mainly work in the credit risk domain, building models for loan applications. Our advanced machine learning models enable our colleagues in the front office to better assess the risk of consumers not being able to repay a loan, and thus to make better decisions on whether or not to grant one.”


“It is a lengthy process to collect, analyse and assess the data, align the specs with the business, and develop and validate the model. My role brings together all the things that I find fascinating: coding, a lot of statistics, complex problem-solving and stakeholder management. We work with teams all over the world and we travel regularly – or at least we did, before the coronavirus pandemic.”

Continuous learning

“But probably what I love the most is collaborating with all the smart and talented people in my team. We are all very different people, with different backgrounds and nationalities, but we get along so well! I really do see my colleagues as my friends. I can learn a lot from them too, and in turn I am teaching them – and others within the bank, during conferences – about my specialities like Python, PySpark and credit risk modelling using machine learning. It’s great that I get the chance to continue learning and sharing my knowledge. It’s probably because of my academic nature that I like this so much!”

Initiator of the Data Science in Finance Conference 

Floriana was the initiator of what would become the Netherlands’s first Data Science in Finance Conference in April 2021. The country’s four main banks joined forces for this unique three-day event, where data scientists shared their knowledge of topics including KYC and anti-money laundering, fraud detection, bias and fairness, explainable AI and financial risk. “I was keen to do this because there is so much expertise within banks and we all have a common goal – to serve society better. The idea of a co-organized conference generated a lot of enthusiasm and the collaboration between the four banks ran very smoothly and efficiently. The conference was attended by over 900 people, not only from within the Netherlands but also – a little unexpectedly – from abroad, so it was a big success. As the organising committee, we’ve been energised by such strong interest and positive feedback to stretch our ambition; we now want to make this an annual international event!”


Check your opportunities

About Floriana

After finishing her studies in astrophysics and nuclear physics in Albania, Floriana worked as an assistant professor for a year until she was granted an excellence scholarship in Paris. She did her PhD in high-energy astrophysics at École Polytechnique, France. Floriana now lives in Amsterdam. Since having to spend more time at home due to the coronavirus pandemic, she has discovered her ‘green fingers’ and now has over 50 different species of plants in her apartment. Cooking food from different cuisines is another of her favourite pastimes, as are nail and string art, cycling and reading.

In these challenging coronavirus times, Floriana would like to send out a warm message of strength to all her colleagues and she hopes everyone stays safe and positive.

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