Kosma von Maltitz, Data Scientist at 24.com, gives us a glimpse of her daily work life as a data scientist.
It’s mind-boggling to think that almost 80 zettabytes (80 trillion gigabytes) of data are available in the global datasphere. However, data alone is comparable to uncut diamonds in a mine – brimming with potential that’s yet to be realised. Like modern miners, data scientists play a key role in extracting the actionable insights from raw data to fuel informed decision-making.
What is the primary focus of your work?
My priority as a data scientist is to help build and maintain machine learning (ML) models that provide businesses with a competitive edge. Our Data Science and Engineering team (DSE) at 24.com is a close-knit group, and we're responsible for creating high-quality data products. My role often involves various aspects of the data and model pipelines, including ad hoc analytics, data cleaning, and creating data-driven dashboards to communicate insights.
At what stage of the development cycle do data scientists get involved?
We’re involved from the very beginning and beyond. Specifications for data products are rarely straightforward and the solutions are seldom well defined. We use data and the models we build to delve deep into problems and collaborate within our team to create data-powered solutions. Data allows us to gain valuable insights into user behaviour, which, in turn, help us improve user experiences. Fortunately, at 24.com we have a big data team, which allows each of us to focus on different parts of the pipeline while working together to address challenges holistically.
What does a typical day look like?
I’d say that there’s an ideal day and then there’s what actually happens! Ideally, my day begins with a quick check for any alerts regarding the behaviour of my scripts or models, or if something has gone awry. If everything is running smoothly, which is often the case, I take around half an hour to an hour to stay updated on the latest developments in ML and AI, or dive into one of the courses I’m currently working on. Our field evolves rapidly, so continuous learning is a top priority.
A daily constant is our stand-up meeting, a team check-in where we discuss progress on our main goals and offer help to anyone facing a roadblock. Following this, my day usually unfolds in one of three ways: I may continue to focus on my main project, offer my assistance to a colleague working on their project, or handle a priority ad hoc request that has come in. Some days are filled with brainstorming and collaboration, while others involve intense coding. Each day is unique, and the unpredictability keeps me engaged and excited.
What challenges do you face and what skills or qualities does a good data scientist need?
Challenges are inherent in data science, and new problems and curveballs are a given. Being adaptable and embracing lifelong learning is essential. If you want to excel as a data scientist, you must have a deep passion for data, mathematics, and coding. Actively seeking feedback and continuously improving your skills is also a must, as well as being able to pivot and adapt to ever-evolving situations.
How does your team’s work benefit subscribers and users?
Our work has a broad impact on nearly all areas of our business. We provide editors with the necessary data to curate content efficiently, develop dashboards for data analysis and business insights, and create models that alert us to anomalies in user behaviour. Our efforts enable data-driven decision-making and ultimately empower the personalised content delivery that results in enhanced, tailored user and subscriber experiences.
How do you see data science evolving in the future?
The role of data scientists is here to stay, but the way we use data, and the amount of data will continue to evolve. At 24.com, we’re committed to evolving with these changes and expanding our models and tools, while upholding ethical standards. The emergence of AI and generative AI technologies underscores the enduring importance of ML. As data scientists, we can play a vital role in shaping technology to create tools that make people's lives easier – freeing up time for innovation and creativity
What motivates and inspires you in your role?
I'm incredibly passionate about data science, and what truly keeps me going is the exceptional team I work with. We learn, grow, and share moments of laughter together. The challenges of data science become manageable when you work in an amazing team where everyone collaborates to find solutions. I'm also deeply mission-driven and knowing that our entire team at 24.com is dedicated to creating accessible digital products inspires me every day.