From Machine Learning to Martial Arts, This Data Scientist is Always Expanding Her Arsenal

MediaWallah
January 24, 2022
Welcome to MediaWallah Careers Q&A, a new series of one-on-ones talking MediaWallah, career paths, and life beyond work with MediaWallah teammates. Today’s guest: Data Scientist Vivian Lu, Ph.D.

When did you join MediaWallah?

I joined MediaWallah in the fall of 2021. I was initially approached on Hired.com about a data analyst position, but after talking to several members of the team, they decided that I was better suited for a data science role.

What’s your role in the company?

My job is to build and test machine learning models—for example, to probabilistically predict if an IP address belongs to a household. I’ve also been helping build pipelines to clean our data imports and facilitate the analytics team’s work.

What drew you to work at MediaWallah?

Talking to the team and hearing about the challenging projects they were working on interested me. It was an opportunity to not only improve on coding and statistics, but also to collaborate with and learn from some highly intelligent individuals. 

Plus, being part of a small company meant that my contributions would have an impact on the project’s outcome, so the work would feel meaningful. MediaWallah had also just recently raised a round of Series A funding, which showed that the company was on an upward trajectory. It felt like a good time to hop onto the wagon.

What has remote working been like as a new team member? 

Working from home isn’t as isolating as I expected, since the company has weekly meetings to check in on each team’s progress. I am also always just a Slack message away from getting help from my teammates whenever I do feel stumped. When there’s a lull in the day, I take a few minutes to check in with our chief data scientist to make sure that we’re still on track with our projects. If anything does come up, we are able to pivot quickly.

What are some things that excite you most about working for MediaWallah?

Getting to work on challenging projects with bright and ambitious people has been a fantastic way to hone my skills. The adtech space is currently changing, and figuring out how to adapt to it has been an interesting lesson in creative thinking. It’s also thrilling to think that our solutions today could impact the field moving forward.

What’s something people might not know about you?

I really like martial arts. I started with Tae-Kwon-Do in middle school, moved on to Tai Chi in high school, Jiu Jitsu in college, and then Kung Fu in graduate school. For a few months in grad school, I also spent hours watching videos on Historical European Martial Arts (HEMA, for those who are familiar). But HEMA is a part of my life I keep a bit under wraps. Even my friends and family don’t know how many swords I own…

What advice would you give to someone looking to advance their data science career?

Always be learning new things, whether that means taking online courses if you have free time, or (my favorite) working on challenging projects that force you to research methods you’re not familiar with. As the field grows and changes, so do we. One of the things I appreciate most about working here is the free rein I get to explore and learn methods that are new to me and to my teammates.

What advice would you give to someone looking to work at MediaWallah?

Don’t be afraid if you don’t know all of the ins-and-outs of ad tech. I come from a cognitive science background, and my first job was analyzing customer satisfaction in the auto industry. Regardless, I’m able to be productive with my time here because I like learning and I like challenges. Also, be open – share your ideas, consider other people’s ideas, ask for help, offer help. This is a highly collaborative environment, so there are plenty of opportunities to grow yourself and your team. ⬩

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