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Predictive models and career perspectives | Luca Silvan Becker

Luca is a Research Scientist at Amazon, and previously, he was a Senior Economist at Zillow. We discuss everything from getting a job, assessing your prospective manager, and building predictive models to getting buy-in from stakeholders as a scientist.

As a data scientist, you need stakeholders’ buy-in for your work to make an impact. Non-technical stakeholders may be the hardest to convince, as you need to provide an intuitive and detailed explanation of how your model works, why they should trust the model’s output, and the risks associated with your chosen modeling technique.

For example, if your task is to predict customer demand, you can test your predictive model accuracy out of sample and track the model’s accuracy over time. However, accuracy metrics alone don’t explain why the model works or doesn’t work. In this podcast episode, Luca and I discuss how to choose modeling techniques when faced with a non-trivial forecasting problem and how to effectively present results to stakeholders.

You can watch the entire episode on YouTube.

Topics Covered

  • Spectrum of jobs in the tech industry
  • To get a PhD or not
  • Hiring criteria beyond degrees
  • Interview strategies and tips for navigating the interview process
  • Finding a good manager
  • Questions to ask your prospective manager
  • Building trust with stakeholders as a data scientist
  • Building causal and predictive models
  • Setting success criteria for a project
  • IC vs. manager track

Where to find Luca

Where to find Ida


0:00 Preview
0:22 Intro
0:34 Luca – introduction
2:23 How Luca got into tech
4:45 Opportunity cost of doing a PhD
7:03 Job search tips
12:08 Interview tips
14:26 Interview – red flags
20:06 The importance of a good manager
23:52 Building trust with stakeholders
32:43 Building good prediction models
39:50 Tradeoffs when choosing a model
42:34 Defining success criteria for a project
45:14 Career path: individual contributor vs. manager
50:55 Perspective on the interview process

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