Neus is a Senior Data Scientist at our hotel comparison service in Münster. In our interview, she reveals how she made the switch to Data Science as a Product Manager, what she thinks is best about CHECK24, and why she is committed to women in IT.
That's a good question, and one I've been asked a lot. I actually started as a Product Manager at CHECK24, although my background as a physicist was probably not a good fit for the position. At the time, I was a postdoc and had the desire to move into the industry and apply my knowledge to practical use cases. A colleague and friend told me about a job offer and I was excited about the challenge. Product Manager? At CHECK24? Sounds interesting! Shortly after, I took up the position as API Product Manager through the employee referral program.
Looking back, it was the perfect opportunity to combine the learning process of the product itself with a technical management role. I learned a lot about the day-to-day tasks of project managers and their internal processes and customer-facing decisions: how to work hand-in-hand with Developers, prioritize, plan and design a project, and the tools used to deliver on time. I was also fortunate to have good mentors.
After a few months, I slowly started taking on projects that had more to do with Data Science and working on them outside of the API team, like recommendation systems or customer segmentation. So I wrote the code, validated the algorithms, and worked on the changes myself until eventually my responsibilities no longer matched those of a Product Manager. It was a seamless transition that happened naturally, so I sat down with the CEO and agreed that it was time to change my job title to the more appropriate term "Data Scientist." The time I spent as a PM helped me get a better overview of the entire product and I now see it as an advantage.
I write everything in Python, which is the standard programming language in the data science community. It has a simple syntax and is therefore very easy to read and learn, especially when compared to other languages like C++ or my first programming language Fortran 90! Since starting at CHECK24, I've got to know many other tech stacks that I hadn't used during my time in science, like Spark, Docker, Tableau, Airflow, Dask, and everything else is involved in bringing a project to fruition.
Probably one of the best things about working here is that you never stop learning. There are often tech talks where new technologies or projects are presented and people exchange ideas with each other.
Neus, Senior Data Scientist
That's probably one of the best things about working here: You never stop learning. There are always tech talks where colleagues present new technologies. We have our Data Science group, where there is also a constant exchange of tech tools and internal tech talks where people present their projects and the associated tech stack. I think it's really important that there is always an expert in the Data Science community at CHECK24 that you can go to and ask for support.
Although some fixed appointments are on my calendar, no day is like the other. Every second day we have meetings where we, the data science team, inform about the progress of our projects, tickets, possible problems, or changes in the weekly schedule. Additionally, I usually have one or two meetings a day with Product Managers, the General Manager, or colleagues from other products about projects or possible Data Science solutions.
Once a week, we have our Data Science meeting where we discuss the current problems in detail, go over the status of all of our projects, or present and discuss new ideas, and I sit down with our DevOps to prioritize the tickets we will work on in the next week.
The rest of the time, I focus on my projects and help my teammates with questions and issues. I also test and verify that all ongoing tasks (e.g. retraining, data export, automated calculations) are working as expected.
If you look at the numbers, it's very clear to me: we need more women in IT. Positions in STEM fields are largely held by men, and it's been proven that different perspectives and ways of thinking are always the key to success. That is undeniable and also the reason why I believe we need to actively advocate for change. One way is to introduce these professions to young girls while they are still in school. We need mentoring programs and female role models. We need to show that a woman is not weird or an outsider if she wants to pursue such a career in STEM or any other male-dominated field. I have met so many brilliant girls who were discouraged by prejudice and insecurity and ended up studying what was expected of them as women. I think we need to change such behaviors. IT is open to all and a very enriching field, which is a lot of fun. At CHECK24 for example, we support women in IT through our CHECK IT Meet-up Women in Tech.