Justina Ivanauskaite | Associate Director – Data Science Lead
Prague, Czech Republic
Department: IT Hub
Education: B.S. Econometrics, Vilnius University, M.S. Econometrics, University of Amsterdam, Exchange Student, University of Copenhagen
Career stage: Mid
What do you do?
I lead a central IT team of 15 data scientists supporting a $5.6 billion USD (2021) in sales animal health division. Machine learning, optimization, simulation, and statistics are used to solve challenges in manufacturing, supply chain, and research and development in the commercial and animal monitoring space by providing data science services or building products where appropriate. I define team vision and strategy and communicate with partner teams and diverse stakeholders across multiple geographies. I evaluate feasibility and potential of new projects. I facilitate technical sharing among data scientists and run a company-wide initiative that helps data scientists get access to technical mentorship. I have designed and delivered data science evangelization sessions demystifying the topic to non-technical audiences.
What types of skills do you use?
I use mathematics, statistics, machine learning algorithms, and coding to provide data science services or build data science tools. Good programming skills and knowing how to use collaboration tools like Git when working on the same code with many people are very useful. These technical skills are not enough to make data science useful. It is crucial to be open, curious, and communicative to be able to understand the problem that is being solved, and how the solution will be used to provide relevant and useful use of algorithms. Here is an example of a project I lead: I use machine learning methodology to improve farm effectiveness proven on two large swine producers in Europe and currently being productionized and industrialized to become a global tool to be sold.
How are applied mathematics and/or computational science important to what you do?
Without knowing math and algorithms I would not be able to do my work.
What are the pros and/or cons of your profession/job?
Working with smart people, solving new challenges. I love feeling that we are in the process of building and creating.
Does your job offer flexibility?
Yes. COVID-19 brought a lot of flexibility for working from home, but I love coming to the office anyway and spending most of my work time with the team.
What career path did you take to your current position?
I got to my current company by being interviewed by someone really smart; the person asking the interview questions was so good that I knew I wanted to work there. Later, multiple opportunities (leading a project, leading a team) came my way and I took them even though I was not always sure I would make it, but it always turned out well.
Was your career path well planned or a result of taking opportunities as they arose?
I take opportunities as they come my way.
What advice would you give to someone pursuing a similar degree or profession?
Try to learn a few different programming languages from the beginning—later on it will be easy to switch to any new technology. Learn how to present your work well. Start building a network of people who have the same passion as you do.
Was there anything that surprised you when you started out in your career
Not only math, but psychology and communication are crucial. Many students studying mathematics or other technical fields sometimes look down on soft subjects like psychology—I was guilty of this back then too. Luckily, my job experience and need to constantly collaborate to create and build together quickly brought to my attention the importance of soft skills.
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