What are your key roles and responsibilities in your current positions? What do you like most about your job and what do you find most challenging? 

As a principal data scientist in my firm, I think about my responsibilities in three categories: people, emerging technology, and execution. People means helping mentor data scientists in my organization, support their development goals, and helping to stand up a more robust technical mentoring process. Emerging technology means helping to assure that my organization keeps pace with the rapidly changing field of data science and are able to advise our clients effectively. Part of this category means regularly engaging with senior business leadership in the company to advise on our technical path. Finally, project execution means I still spend a good chunk of my time working with our customers directly as an individual contributor and project lead.

Working on projects where I get to apply the latest machine learning methods and emerging technology to real-life business or government mission problems is my favorite part of the job. As a consultant, I get exposure to different fields and sets of challenges and approaches.

Balancing those three sets of responsibilities is definitely the hardest part of the job. Each one could be a distinct, full-time job, so I navigate that by trying to be deliberate with my focus and engaging my colleagues to help.


List or describe the top 5+ professional skills that are crucial to your role. 

  1. Initiative and resilience (being able to translate a challenge without a known solution into a tractable machine learning or analytics problem and trying things that might not work)
  2. Critical thinking
  3. Programming
  4. Foundational statistics and analysis
  5. Effective communication (both written and oral to audiences at all technical levels)

How did your time at Yale shape your career trajectory? For example, what skills and/or experiences did you acquire that have contributed to your career success? 

My time at Yale was formative and transformational for me. The lessons I learned about academic rigor, integrity, and critical thinking are still guiding principles in my career. My graduate school experience really unlocked my passion for figuring things out with data, which is still very important in my role. To some extent, my transition out of academia was a search for a field with more career opportunities while still being able to apply my passion for exploring truth using data and experiments.


What were the biggest challenges that you faced when transitioning to different workplaces and cultures? What advice and suggestions can you offer to current students to help them prepare for those challenges?

The academy and different field and subfields within it all have their own set of cultural norms and mores. It’s not different across different business sectors, organizations, or government entities; these are all subcultures unto themselves. Navigating movement between those different worlds can be challenging. I think practicing empathy and humility are critical skills. Groups may have different ways of approaching problems or different ways to frame goals and incentives, and thinking one way is better than another is often a recipe for friction. Of course, being open to asking questions and learning is important too.
Work Experience
  • Principal Data Scientist
  • Elder Research
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