A curiosity for the how and why
Laura Williams was raised in an environment that encouraged curiosity and experimentation. A child of two chemists, her parents instilled in her a passion for science, math, and reading. Today, you can still find her reading about science and research. As a Data Scientist for Keiter Technologies, reading plays a huge role in her work and allows her to discover new ways to leverage data to solve business challenges.
In her role, Laura works closely with Subhash Jaini, managing director of Keiter’s Innovative Data Solutions team. Laura began working with Subhash at the end of 2018 while pursuing her undergraduate and master’s degree in statistics from Virginia Commonwealth University. Laura appreciates the mentorship and support Subhash provides. She has found him to be a wealth of knowledge on data science and analytics. Upon graduation, it was an easy decision to transition to a full-time Data Scientist on the Data Solutions team.
Data science’s “Swiss army knife”
Laura finds the best way to learn is by doing. With each new client project there is a new concept to be learned and problem to solve. This has given her breadth and depth of experience in a variety of data projects for diverse industries. Laura’s colleagues now refer to her as the “Swiss army knife for data science.”
The exciting and challenging part of data science are the unknowns. Sometimes the way a client wants to solve a problem or identify an opportunity isn’t always possible. Laura must find an alternative way to leverage client data for the project to have the desired outcome. Laura says that oftentimes, surprises happen, and she must address them as they come.
Laura’s favorite types of projects are those with “messy” data. For example, a recent project involved a company that wanted to determine if they qualified for the Employee Retention Tax Credit. The data problem they needed solved was determining their total number of full-time employees. Their payroll data was stored in multiple company locations with different payroll software. By auditing each location’s data, she was able to confirm that the client had less than 500 employees which made them eligible for a significant tax credit. This was an ideal “messy data” project for Laura that leveraged her skills of researching solutions and organizing data to solve a specific business opportunity.
Data modeling and dashboard creation skillset
Another very different project leveraged Laura’s data modeling skills. A client focused on improving the environment wanted to provide their customers with an estimated carbon footprint based on their air travel. The client created their own model to capture emissions data but needed assistance with improving the model’s accuracy. Laura was able to create a series of different models that were specific to the type of aircraft used for the customer’s flight. The new models successfully improved the accuracy and precision of the client’s model.
Laura’s dashboard creation and data modeling skillsets assisted a client with their marketing efforts. The client wanted to identify important factors that related to customers who regularly place orders and “high-value” customers who order for more than one year. Laura and the IDS team created two dashboards. One dashboard tracks the costs and conversions from the client’s marketing campaigns, and the other dashboard looks at revenue and retention trends based on different kinds of customer segmentation. For the data modeling portion of the project, the team created two models to predict how often a customer will order (their order rate) and how long a customer will keep their order (customer lifespan).
What makes data science projects engaging and fun for Laura is the client and team interaction. Through her projects and interactions, she is continuing to develop her skills and herself. Laura is excited to work in an environment of collaboration, support, and diverse learning.
To learn more about the Data Solutions Team, read our blog.
About the Author
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