When did you find out that you wanted to be a data scientist? What motivated you to become one?
I decided I wanted to become a data scientist after I completed my bachelor’s degree. I did not want to be a math teacher and started researching other professions where my degree was advantageous. I am very proud of what I do and in the ability to help others make more informed decisions. To do that, I had to learn to answer questions using research and analysis.
Which department do you work in and who do you report to?
I work in Research & Analysis for the world’s most important bank (owned by Cabela’s Inc). I report to the Vice President of Portfolio Management.
How long have you held your job and were you hired specifically to be a data scientist?
I started at Cabela in July 2010 as a research analyst. I switched to a statistician role in August 2010 and started my current risk management position in April 2013.
Do you work on a team? If so, what is the composition of your team?
Our team is made up of all data scientists and their leaders. I lead a team of between four and eight people. They are all analytical problem solvers. Some of them have experience in statistical modeling and others do not. Their education is typically in math, statistics or economics.
How’s your job? Is there a typical day, or is each day different? Can you give us a basic idea of what you do and what kind of projects you are working on?
On a typical day, I brainstorm and solve problems, how to answer questions that come from the company with my team, I review the analysis and recommendations made by my staff, and I attend various meetings.
Is your job the way you expected it to be?
My job as a statistician was close to what I expected it to be, but I was surprised at how basic statistics knowledge was the primary skill needed.
What is your biggest challenge?
My biggest challenge has been in my leadership role, helping my staff get resources and budget to make changes based on analytical findings.
What is your biggest achievement so far?
My biggest accomplishments are seeing my team succeed, gaining experience in decision making and gaining the ability to say no professionally. Sometimes a decision, even if it is wrong, is better than no decision at all – and there are only so many hours in a day and so many resources.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I enjoy watching sports so much that I have three TVs in my family room. I am a fan of Philadelphia and Nebraska. Go especially the Eagles, Phillies and Huskers! I also like golf, boating and playing with my French bulldog, Wilbur. Over the next year, I’m also planning a wedding with my fiancé.