Collaboration, Learning and Growth: How This Data Scientist Makes a Daily Impact

At Million Dollar Baby Co., a culture of alignment empowers data scientists to find their own solutions for novel problems.

Written by Conlan Carter
Published on Jun. 26, 2024
Collaboration, Learning and Growth: How This Data Scientist Makes a Daily Impact
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“One of the measures of an organization’s success is its agility — whether it manages to stay at least one step ahead of its market.”

When Theirry Nautin, a long-term leader at Thomas More Partners and McKinsey & Company, spoke in a 2014 compendium on lean management, he began by calling out the universal distinguishing quality of a successful organization: agility, and the alignment needed to achieve it.

On the Million Dollar Baby Co. team, alignment is a core part of the culture that motivates the data science team as they work together to find innovative answers to new business challenges as they arise. 

“Alignment helps us see the direct impact of our projects on the business, making our work more meaningful and motivating,” Data Scientist Monica Bonilla told Built In LA.

In the modern era of business, making quick decisions requires alignment on strategic goals that are informed explicitly by data. According to a survey from PwC, executives have expressed more desire to trend away from intuitive decision making to move towards a data-driven model. 

For Bonilla’s team, data science can provide a clearer diagnostic picture of where the business is going and also supply tools to help it get there. Built In Los Angeles spoke with Bonilla to hear more about the collaborative and unique role that data science plays on her team.

 

Monica Bonilla
Data Scientist • Million Dollar Baby Co.

Million Dollar Baby Co. is a children’s furnishings company with seven distinct brands ranging in style, aesthetic and price point.

 

What does a typical day for you at Million Dollar Baby Co. look like?

Early mornings often begin with meetings involving outsourced teams responsible for business intelligence, data engineering and some machine learning initiatives. These meetings ensure alignment and smooth coordination.

A significant portion of the day is dedicated to preprocessing, cleaning, and wrangling data. This is crucial to ensure the quality and reliability of the datasets we work with. Once the data is curated, the exciting part begins — employing machine learning models to solve business challenges.

Additional time throughout the day is dedicated to meetings with internal stakeholders, ad-hoc data requests and self-directed projects. Regular interactions with internal stakeholders, such as sales, branding, and purchasing departments, help ensure our objectives align with the company's goals. These meetings are essential for gathering inputs and refining our approaches. Addressing ad-hoc data requests from various departments is a common task, requiring quick analysis and reporting to support immediate business needs. Focusing on self-initiated projects allows for innovation and exploration of new methodologies and technologies.

Periodically, one-on-one meetings with our manager and team meetings help in discussing progress, resolving issues, and strategizing for future tasks. Addressing and resolving discrepancies in data and dashboards is a critical part of the role, ensuring data integrity and accuracy.
 

Technology and Tools at Million Dollar Baby Co. Bonilla identifies three main platforms that make up the backb

Bonilla identifies three main platforms that make up the backbone of the team’s technology: 

  • Savant: An analytics platform for data extraction, replication and transformation
  • Databricks: The center of the stack and engine providing the horsepower for data transformation, warehousing and ML initiatives using Python and SQL
  • Sigma Computing: The business intelligence tool that sits on top of Databricks

 

Tell us about a project you’re working on right now. 

Our team is currently working on a project focused on forecasting sales of new items with very limited or no historical data. This project is crucial as new items drive our business growth, and accurately predicting their demand helps us order the right quantity. This prevents stockouts and overstocking, thereby reducing overhead costs and increasing return on investment.

The project is particularly complex due to the constraints posed by the limited data available for new items. However, we find this challenge rewarding because it pushes us to dive into the latest literature and explore innovative machine learning approaches to address sparse data concerns. This reinforces our passion for the field of data science.

 

“This challenge reinforces our passion for the field of data science.”

 

In addition to new item forecasting, our team is also working on improving demand forecasting for regular items by analyzing price and promotion elasticity. Understanding the effects of price changes and promotions will enable us to make better pricing decisions in the future. The main challenges here include the scale of the problem, given the large number of items to predict, the complexity of the business, computational costs, and the need to create and engineer new datasets to be useful for the models.

 

What’s the culture like on your team? How do Million Dollar Baby Co. team members grow their knowledge and connect?

Our team culture is highly supportive and collaborative, fostering an environment where learning and growth are prioritized. We have access to extensive training resources, including Udemy courses, Databricks training sessions and passes to the Databricks Summit, which enable us to stay updated with the latest developments in data science and continuously enhance our skills.

One of the most valued aspects of our team culture is the freedom we have to independently develop solutions for business problems. This autonomy allows us to innovate and tailor our approaches to meet specific needs, fostering creativity and ownership in our work.

Team members frequently learn from each other and are encouraged to ask questions and share knowledge. We regularly check in through one-on-ones with one another to manage expectations, provide feedback, align priorities and address any concerns or ideas. This open communication helps us stay on track and ensures that everyone is on the same page.

Overall, our team culture supports individual growth through training and development and promotes a collaborative atmosphere where we can rely on our peers for guidance and support while enjoying the freedom to independently develop impactful solutions.

 

 

Responses have been edited for length and clarity. Images provided by Shutterstock and listed companies.

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