Episode 20: Managing Data Scientists with Sunanda Parthasarathy
Sunanda Koduvayur Parthasarathy is an Associate Director of Data Science at Wayfair Inc., where she leads a team of data scientists and engineers to build machine learning solutions that lead to a better shopping experience for all Wayfair customers. Prior to this, she was leading data science innovation R&D projects at the ad-tech startup DataXu. Through her career in data science, she has enjoyed bringing quantitative definition and clarity to unwieldy strategic business questions that have led to multiple high-revenue products.
- (02:05) Sunanda discussed her Master’s degree in Physics from the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras.
- (03:05) Sunanda talked about her decision to go to the US to pursue a Ph.D. in Condensed Matter and Materials Physics at Purdue University.
- (04:22) Sunanda went in-depth into her Ph.D. thesis that focused on spin transport.
- (06:51) Sunanda accepted a Materials Science Postdoc Fellowship at Princeton University and worked there for 3 years on quantum insulators.
- (10:05) Sunanda recalled the most valuable lessons she learned from her Postdoc time.
- (11:49) Sunanda talked about her transition from physics to data science by getting a certificate of Professional Achievement in Data Science from Columbia University.
- (18:42) Sunanda went over the best courses she took at Columbia that prepare her well for a career as a Data Scientist.
- (21:13) Sunanda talked about the ease of learning Python and R from scratch given her programming experience in C++.
- (22:29) Sunanda quickly mentioned her job search experience.
- (24:32) Sunanda discussed her work as a Data Scientist for 3 years at DataXu (a Boston-based advertising startup), including advertising attributions measurements and marketing-mix modeling.
- (28:35) Sunanda revealed the workflow of algorithmic conceptualization and experimental design in her work at DataXu.
- (31:05) Sunanda talked about her career progress at DataXu.
- (32:01) Sunanda discussed her move to Wayfair, a big e-commerce company that sells home goods.
- (34:08) Sunanda went over her responsibilities as an Associate Director of Data Science at Wayfair.
- (35:58) Sunanda gave her advice for people who want to make a transition from an individual contributor to a data science leader within an organization.
- (38:17) Sunanda gave a quick overview of R&D work on recommendation systems at Wayfair.
- (40:31) Sunanda commented on the differences between the two work environments at startup company versus at medium-sized company.
- (41:48) Sunanda shared her thoughts on tech and data community in the Boston area.
- (43:14) Closing segment.
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