Position Spotlight: Data Scientist
Today we hear from Max, Data Scientist on the Performance Marketing Mission Team, as he gives us a behind-the-scenes look on what it's like to work as a Data Scientist at GetYourGuide.
Can you please give us a brief summary of what your job entails?
The term “Data Science” has become very popular, but isn’t very specific. Since the term is so broad, the tasks and expectations for a Data Scientist vary from company to company. At GetYourGuide, we look for a blend of skills in three different areas:
Analysis: investigate data and come up with hypotheses on areas which have the most potential, then evaluate the resulting experiments
Machine Learning: select the right model and fine-tune to solve a specific problem
Programming skills: deploy models in production - Data Scientists at GetYourGuide stay involved in the whole process and implement our own models into production.
In addition to technical skills, a Data Scientist should have a good understanding of how to find literature on a problem and how to use academic research to guide their decision-making process. They should also be adept at communicating with different stakeholders to identify problems and share results. This means you should not only understand what is possible technically, but also have a grasp on key business metrics and what impacts growth the most!
Has your role changed since joining GetYourGuide? If yes, how?
I’ve only been with GetYourGuide for 8 months, during which there haven’t been major changes in my job. However, our teams set different goals each quarter in congruence with changing business needs, so the focus of what I’m working on shifts a bit over time. Since we are growing at such a rapid pace, changes and shifts are to be expected - my work certainly won’t become boring any time soon.
What does an average day as a Data Scientist look like?
Depending on the stage of a project I’m in, my average day will be quite different. At the beginning of a project, I spend most of my time looking at data and talking to other stakeholders and experts in the company to get a good view of the problem I’m trying to solve and to come up with approaches on how to deal with it. In the next phase, I create solutions. I usually start with simple ideas, evaluate their effects, and then improve upon them from there. Iteration is key here. Finally, I implement my solution in production, working closely with other engineers, ensuring there are no negative impacts on other production systems. Afterward, I keep monitoring my solution to see if it works as projected, or if further changes are necessary. One constant in the role is meeting with stakeholders to keep them updated on progress.
How are Data Scientists distributed across mission teams and what mission team do you support?
At GetYourGuide, Data Scientists are not working together in one team, but are embedded in cross-functional mission teams along with developers, analysts, product managers, and other specialists.
I work in Performance Marketing, which helps attract new customers to our websites through online advertisement. One aspect of this mission is figuring out which search terms potential customers use that have matching inventory. Considering we offer 32,000 activities and support 18 languages, it can get pretty complex!
Besides this mission, Data Scientists are also involved in missions improving the way customers use our site and enhancing the experience customers have when reaching out to customer support.
How would you describe the team’s working style and dynamic?
We use an agile setup with sprints and regular ideation and retro sessions to keep us on track and evaluate the way we interact as a team. The team dynamics shift often since other colleagues join on a project-basis and we are currently hiring new members. Everyone who joins the team adds his or her own personal flavor to the mix.
What is the most challenging aspect of your role?
Prioritization is a challenging, but important, aspect of my role.Although we are hiring at a rapid pace, we could triple our engineering department overnight and still have enough projects to keep everyone busy.
While the quarterly goals we set for ourselves are dependent on the company’s overall business goals, we have quite some leeway in how we want to support these goals. This means reconciling the needs of engineers, analysts, product managers, and other specialists to come up with a roadmap for the next quarters as well as the next weeks.
What is the most rewarding aspect of your role?
I like that I’m involved in multiple fields: analysis, machine learning, and engineering. Not only does this mean I have variety in my daily tasks, I also get to collaborate with many interesting people and learn from them.
What advice would you have for someone who would like to work as a Data Scientist at GetYourGuide?
A mindset shaped by scientific research is very useful. You will encounter a lot of uncertainty in this role and it’s important to define hypotheses and make up your mind beforehand on how you want to evaluate these hypotheses.
What is your favorite thing about working with GetYourGuide?
Coming from an academic background, I was a bit surprised by the level of autonomy (and therefore trust) with which people operate. I was given a problem and some pointers, and had my own solution in production within a month of starting work, impacting a decent chunk of GetYourGuide’s revenue stream. Furthermore, I can usually discuss a finding with a manager and get buy-in to act on it directly, without going through a longer chain.