Interview: Ksenija Draskovic, Verizon on Conquering Fear and Cherishing Creativity for Success in Data Science

We discuss career advice, motivation, key qualities sought in Data Science practitioners, and more.

ksenija-draskovicKsenija Draskovic is Associate Fellow and Head Data Scientist at Verizon Wireless. She has over 20 years experience in using multichannel data sources to understand customer behavior providing key findings and actionable insights to business stakeholders, embedding those insights into business processes and deploying predictive analytics throughout the organization.

She and her team covers variety of analytics for Marketing, Finance, Real Estate department, including predictive modeling, Big Data integration and unstructured data analytics. Ksenija is a regular speaker at Predictive and Big Data Analytics conferences in US and Internationally.

First part of interview

Second part of interview

Here is third and last part of my interview with her:

Anmol Rajpurohit: Q9. What is the best advice you have got in your career?

Ksenija Draskovic: There are few ones that frequently come to my mind:
  • Learn and feel comfortable to share, let it go, give away that special process and technique that you mastered so you have time to try new ideas and further explore. Only then, will you be able to embark into the new uncharted territory that will make you grow professionally and personally.
  • Don't be afraid to experiment, research and make errors. If you only operate within the comfortable and safe boundaries there is little progress.
  • Whatever work you do make sure that you start involving the end user or the business owner that will benefit from it. Make it exciting for both, discuss the benefit, best way to position it and imagine all the possibilities. Be a team player, bounce the ideas and don't be afraid not to have the best idea in the group.

AR: Q10. What motivated you to work in Data Science?

data-insightsKD: When the data tells the story that nobody expected. At that moment when we look at each other around the room in one unified epiphany moment.

And then, over time, the story changes, the data captures new movements and different insights do bubble up. It is never the same, it is ever evolving, and a new story has to be compiled and told.

AR: Q11. What key qualities do you look for when interviewing for Data Science related positions on your team?

data-science-skillsKD: Over time I came up with 5 skills that are in my opinion key for this role:
  • Creative and curious mind
  • Math or engineering background
  • Relevant business industry knowledge
  • Analytical tools and machine learning algorithms background
  • Talent for connecting the dots and story telling

And if I find 3 of 5, I consider that a good match (oh and a taste for dark chocolate is always a plus). What is more important is that you have the team that is covering all of these capabilities and members will share and get others up to speed while working on the joined tasks.

AR: Q12. What was the last book that you read and liked? What do you like to do when you are not working?

the-spinoza-problemKD: The book that I recently finished and had hard time separating from was “The Spinoza Problem” from Irvin Yalom. Yalom is one of my newly discovered writers, he is emeritus professor of psychiatry at Stanford University and I think there is an intersection between field of Analytics and complexity of human psychology, both looking into understanding the causes, either of unusual human behavior or interesting business trends. History is usually a good place to look. Recent or very distant, that is where science has the last word.

My passion is traveling, exploring remote lands, those last horizons where the modern technology hasn't touched and transformed yet like Amazon rain-forest, Tibetan monasteries, Cambodia villages hidden in the jungle. They put everything in perspective.