A Day in the Life of a Data Science Manager at Agoda

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Hello, I am Ilia Larchenko, a Senior Data Science Manager at Agoda

My role involves participating in a diverse range of projects at Agoda. This includes pricing and bidding optimization, long-term value attribution, as well as experimentation and development of new customer-facing products.

The Data Science Team at Agoda

The mission of our Data Science team is to serve as the central hub for all Data Science, Machine Learning, and optimization-related solutions at Agoda. We strive to assist other teams in achieving their business goals, advancing and automating processes, and ensuring we accurately estimate incremental outcomes.

Primarily linked to marketing optimization, my teams tackle diverse challenges each quarter – from developing new pricing optimization strategies, improving cancellation prediction methods, and refining value attribution across marketing to augmenting the robustness of A/B tests. In essence, our collective efforts improve our company-wide marketing optimization processes.

As a result, we have an automated system that: distributes the marketing budget across countries and channels, defines the optimal amount of discounts, cashback, and bids for different segments, estimates the causal impact of our action on customer behavior and loyalty, and helps the marketing team to do their job effectively.

Life of a Data Science Manager

Being a Data Science Manager at Agoda is about balancing between people manager and system architecture designer roles. The former part is about ensuring team members are engaged by providing them with meaningful challenges, clear career orientation and performance evaluation, while keeping up with the technical demands of the role. The latter involves using our deep technical and mathematical knowledge to participate actively in designing new systems, defining business problems in machine learning terms, and guiding fellow team members.

My week consists of standard routines and novel projects. Regular routines include 1-on-1s with the team and peers from other departments, team meetings and reviews, daily stand-ups, interviews with prospective hires, and engagement with the broader IT and Data Science teams. On the other hand, new projects typically involve identifying and structuring new problem-solving approaches, advising new business teams on how Data Science can tackle their issues, and working on complex Machine Learning challenges. Though I’m not as involved in writing production code, I mainly spend my time formalizing business problems into mathematical ones, proposing prototypes for new systems, and using SQL queries or Python notebooks to explore data.

The data-driven culture at Agoda

What stands out at Agoda is how technically proficient and data-driven people are across all departments, which is a culture I truly resonate with. It starts from the top leadership (think the Chief Marketing Officer who creates complex SQL queries for data analysis, the Chief Product Officer who engages in discussions around mathematical modeling, to the Chief Technology Officer who develops internal tools used across the whole company) and goes to all Agodans contributing to a culture that is deeply rooted in the use of data.

What this means to us on the Data Science team is having strong analysis provided by the business teams that we can build on with more complex optimization. We don’t have to convince people how important data is. What excites me the most is when we see all our machine learning, automation, and optimization pieces coming together as a big system that drives our marketing efforts. As a Data Scientist, I thrive working in such an environment.

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