My First Year as a Data Scientist at PrecisionLender

Thomas Hepner

2017 was one of the most exhilarating years of my life.

Not only because was it my first year working at PrecisionLender on our Analytics team, but it was also my first year working professionally as a Data Scientist.

How I Discovered PrecisionLender

My first job out of college was on Amazon’s Kindle Content finance team in Seattle. I loved exploring and analyzing data, as well as presenting analytical insights to the team’s managers and executives.  However, I felt deeply that I wanted to do more; I wanted to build machine learning models that predicted key outcomes and enabled decision-makers to influence them.

I wanted to become a Data Scientist.

So, I decided to leave my job at Amazon and commit myself to studying the discipline full-time. I spent a little over a year immersing myself in Data Science, taking online courses with Udacity and Coursera, as well as competing in data science competitions on Kaggle. My fiancé and I moved to the Research Triangle in Raleigh-Durham after she applied and was accepted to a graduate program at Duke University. I started my job search in late fall 2016, and stumbled across a job opening on LinkedIn for a Data Scientist role with PrecisionLender that immediately caught my attention!

Why I Joined PrecisionLender

I had 3 goals for my first Data Scientist position:

  1. I wanted to integrate machine learning models into software used by customers,
  2. Join a high-growth startup led by the company’s original founders,
  3. And fulfill a noble purpose.

While interviewing, I realized that PrecisionLender was a company where I could achieve all of my major goals. I learned that I would build and deploy machine learning solutions through Andi, the virtual analyst we are building that powers PrecisionLender’s pricing and profitability platform. The original founders, Carl Ryden, our CEO, and Ken Garcia, our President, both still lead the company. The company is also growing rapidly – in just the last 13 months, employee headcount and revenue have more than doubled! It’s thrilling to work at a place where there is no sign of growth slowing anytime soon.

Lastly, I found the mission compelling. Although helping bank relationship managers price commercial loan deals might not be easy to explain to your family over Thanksgiving dinner, it might help prevent the next Financial Crisis. By providing actionable insights to RMs when a deal is being priced, PrecisionLender fosters conversations that generate win-win outcomes for both banks and their customers.

What I Love About Being a Data Scientist at PrecisionLender

I have never felt more fulfilled in my career than I have while working as a Data Scientist with PrecisionLender. Among the projects I worked on in the past year, there were two that made me especially proud. For one project, I created an Andi skill that improves pricing and ease-of-use for RMs who are pricing construction loans. In my second project, I estimated PrecisionLender’s impact on the bottom line of commercial banks using a statistical technique called the Synthetic Control Method. After completing the second project, I can say with statistical confidence that PrecisionLender makes a substantial impact!

One of the most rewarding elements of the job is collaborating with my coworkers across teams. The role is inherently cross-functional, so that means I work with not just Data Scientists, but also talented Software Engineers, Product Managers, and members of many other teams. By regularly interacting with coworkers outside my team, I benefit from a diverse set of skillsets and perspectives that ultimately make me more effective in my role and help me deliver more value to our customers.

PrecisionLender’s culture is also great while I am away from the office. Because of PrecisionLender’s generous vacation policy, I visited Alaska with my fiancé in July, traveled to Moab and Arches in Utah in August, and went home to spend the holidays with my family in Washington State in December. In addition, fishing and hiking are two of my favorite hobbies, and I was able to find plenty of time to do both in 2017.

(Fishing at Lake Gaston in February 2018)

I am building Andi, the Artificial Intelligence Assistant that powers PrecisionLender's pricing and profitability platform.

Feel free to reach out to me on LinkedIn.

Interested in learning about our open opportunities? Head over to our careers page!

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