84.51° Data Science Director Shares Advice, Skills Needed to Succeed

Chad Stripling is a director of data science at 84.51°, where he serves its consumer packaged goods clients by creating new tools and products to provide value and insights and providing data science consultation using the company’s portfolio of products. His primary focus is 84.51° Collaborative Cloud.

Chad Stripling—as director of data science at 84.51°, a retail data science media company—helps companies such as Kroger create valuable personalized experiences for shoppers. What skills does he use daily, and why did he choose data science as a career? He tells us here and offers advice for future data scientists.

Tell us a little about where you grew up and what led you to study statistics and data science.

I grew up moving all over the Midwest, as my father was a college football coach and my mother was a teacher. I think both their professions and backgrounds are the reasons I became passionate about math and data science. Math and data science allowed me to blend the values I learned growing up—attention to detail from football and the desire to learn and understand from education.

When did you start working at 84.51°, and what was your first role?

I started as an intern for 84.51° back in 2014. My first full-time position was within our communications and consulting teams, helping clients develop their marketing strategies. Another part of the role was building propensity models and measuring campaign results. I have had several roles within the company since then that focus on insights delivery and cloud computing.

What tools and skills do you use daily to do your job?

The team and I use Databricks, Azure, and other business intelligence tools to build and enhance our sciences and client offerings. We often code in Pyspark, SQL, and various other languages when needed. Tech stakes and languages continue to change year in and year out, so we are always learning and studying the newest techniques.

What is the most challenging part of your job as director?

The most challenging part of my role as a director is identifying the right areas on which to focus our energy. We as well as many companies and clients are continuously evolving and increasing our data science capabilities, which results in an ever-changing landscape. These changes cause conflicting priorities, making strategic planning a critical part of the role.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

The most satisfying part of my job is seeing the team identify client questions and issues, collaborate on solutions, and deliver insights and recommendations to improve both our clients’ and customers’ lives.

What advice would you give a data scientist or statistician beginning their career?

Look to find as many opportunities as possible during college to gain real business experiences. You can do this through not only internships, but co-op programs and research experiences for undergraduates, as well.
Last, use websites or universities that offer online training and certifications to gain knowledge on a data science specialty and add that achievement to your résumé.

What do you wish you had learned while in school that would help you today?

One thing I wish I had learned while in school is how to tell a story with the data. Insights and measurements are only as good as the story and recommendations that come from them. Using data science and analytics to gain an understanding of a problem or challenge is only the first step to producing a solution.

What do you do for fun?

My wife, daughter, dog, and I love to get outside for hikes, kayaking, and exploring whenever we get the chance!