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A Day in the Life of Vanessa Lopera, Data Consultant

A headshot of Andrea with a design that reads: A day in the life of... Vanessa Lopera

Our name is intentional. "Kin" refers to family and "Carta" refers to maps. When together, we're Kin + Carta — a group of connected makers, builders and creators, who come together everyday to help our clients build experiences and plot a clear path forward in today's digital world. Carta is what we do, Kin is who we are.

Day in the Life is a series that brings the day-to-day experiences of working at Kin + Carta to light, all through the eyes of our Kin. And today, we're diving into the day of Vanessa Lopera, Data Consultant in Medellín, Colombia.

Headshot of Vanessa

What's your role at Kin + Carta?

I'm a data scientist, which involves understanding business needs, having a broad grasp of statistics and logic and being proficient in tools like Python, Spark SQL and cloud computing. Right now, I'm involved in a project where we're migrating the client's entire predictive model to a new platform.

Tell us about a typical day in your world.

I always start my day by reviewing my pending tasks. Tools like Jira help with that. I also have my personal agenda, where I write everything down to help me prioritize my tasks throughout the day.

Then, there are daily meetings with the client to discuss progress, data requirements and any roadblocks. I also have weekly meetings with my people lead, which are invaluable for resolving technical issues and guiding my career growth.

The best part of my days are when I'm working on modeling improvements. They challenge me to think from a different perspective, explore new data and consider various options. Sometimes, it's trial and error, but it's very satisfying when you achieve significant improvements in the predictions.

Thinking about what someone needs to know to be successful as a data scientist – what three things would you tell them?

The first is Python. It's great if you want to do anything in the real world, like optimization, to have this knowledge of a programming language.

The second one is SQL because we're constantly interacting with data. This is the main language to do that.

In addition, knowledge about cloud computing is essential. Running all this in one of the cloud platforms is crucial right now because everything is migrating to the cloud. It's really rare to find an on-premise project.

What’s keeping you busy at work right now?

In my current project, I'm working on two fronts. The first is focused on feature engineering to identify the best information that will enhance our model's performance. While doing this, I contribute to operational improvements that make the team's tasks progressively less manual.

I'm also assisting in platform migration testing, which is a huge process. It involves training multiple models, comparing results and guaranteeing we'll keep the model working on the new platform.

This sounds interesting, can you share some of the challenges you've come across?

It's the constant evolution of the tools we use. Technology is rapidly advancing, and it can be tough to keep up and apply those improvements to our projects. You always have to be learning, and you need to have the curiosity to do so. While definitely a challenge, iIt's really quite motivating for me.

Do you mind sharing your experience as a woman in the tech industry?

It's been a very positive experience, especially here at Kin + Carta. I always feel valued for my talent and abilities rather than my gender, which gives me confidence.

For every woman willing to work in data, I say "go for it!". I have no doubt that you will find an encouraging community like I've found. You might have some bad experiences, but if you find a company like Kin + Carta, you'll love it.

When you’re not working with data, what do you enjoy doing?

Most of the time, I start my day exercising. I love trail running, and I actually have three trail half-marathons on the calendar for this year. For me, training and exercising is crucial.

I live with three cats and a dog, so there is nothing better than taking short breaks during the workday to spend time with them. This is no doubt one of the greatest things about working remotely.

And after I log off work, I like to read and watch movies. I also really love to cook an intricate meal at home after wrapping up my day.

Vanessa during a trail half-marathon
Vanessa during a trail half-marathon

What do you like best about being part of Kin + Carta?

I greatly admire the kindness and respect of everyone I've met in the company. There hasn't been one person I've met who hasn't been kind or respectful. I also appreciate the talent here and how us as individuals are constantly being encouraged to develop. That's a crucial part of our culture - we constantly evolve. Not just the company, but the people.

If a company was thinking about evolving its data practice, what advice would you share with them?

I have mostly seen that the data is there - they're already collecting it. Where they need to spend more time is gathering insights from that data. It's necessary to understand the available inventory of data.

And when you’re ready to make a business decision, consider some information or metric that will help inform it. Then, try to pass that on to the data team and see how they can get those metrics for you.

Ready to work alongside data experts like Vanessa?

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