A day in the life of... a Chief Data Scientist in ad fraud protection

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July 2016 at Econsultancy has been #datamonth, so it feels fitting to feature a chief data scientist in our 'day in the life' feature.

Mike Andrews is CTO and Chief Scientist at Forensiq, a company that helps combat ad fraud.

N.B. If you're looking for a new challenge in digital our jobs board lists hundreds of open positions, and you can benchmark your own digital knowledge using our Digital Skills Index.

Please describe your job: What do you do?

We work to detect fraudulent activity within the advertising ecosystem.

As CTO and Chief Scientist, I set scientific and technical directions for the organisation, mentor teammates, develop algorithms to keep ahead of fraudsters, set up systems for processing data, and hire awesome people!

Whereabouts do you sit within the organisation? Who do you report to?

I report directly to the CEO and work hand-in-hand with our heads of product, across technology, sales, and marketing.

What kind of skills do you need to be effective in your role?

My role is highly analytical but to succeed you also need people skills, technical know-how, and a good scientific sense.

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Tell us about a typical working day…

I wake up ridiculously early as I find the early hours the best time to focus on technical or coding work with no distractions.

I then train at the gym, all before getting ready for the day and having breakfast with the family, followed by an hour-long commute to the office.

During the day I speak with colleagues, iron out future directions for the business, and grab a hearty lunch at a local shop. The afternoon is often spent interviewing an engineering or data science candidate or trying to improve an existing system such as our data warehouse.

I always try to be home in time for dinner with the family. My evenings are often spent helping the kids to understand something new they're learning in maths or science, and then I’m usually the first to fall asleep!

What do you love about your job? What sucks?

I love coding and prototyping with agility, but like everywhere, corporate inertia can sometimes be a challenge.

What kind of goals do you have? What are the most useful metrics and KPIs for measuring success?

I’m motivated to keep getting better: stronger, faster, and wiser. My only true KPI is how well I can take care of the family.

What are your favourite tools to help you to get the job done?

In no particular order:

  • the Go language
  • Linux
  • big screens (a good keyboard and mouse helps too)
  • iPhone for mobility
  • Google search (including Scholar)
  • Hacker News
  • arxiv.org preprints (scientific papers), which I scan daily for the latest and greatest developments to help me accomplish my goals

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How did you get started in the digital industry, and where might you go from here?

I originally worked on Wall Street doing quantitative finance but found it tough after the financial crisis in 2008.

In 2010, I happened upon an ad tech company where it seemed I could have just as much fun and as big a challenge doing modelling and machine learning.

Which brands do you think are doing digital well?

Amazon, for sure, because they're world masters in low prices, scale, and automation.

Do you have any advice for people who want to work in the digital industry?

Let's see if we can work together to reverse the practice of ad blocking by making ads welcome, even awesome! I know it may seem impossible, but I can keep dreaming!

July is Data Month at Econsultancy, so be sure to check out our latest reports and blog posts.

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