Creating the Link Between Business and Data with Tony Gruebner - GM Analytics, Insights and Modelling

Tony Gruebner.jpg

Tony Gruebner is the GM Analytics of Insights and Modelling and the Exec Sponsor of Personalisation at Sportsbet. He established a department of 40+ skilled analysts and data scientists tasked with creating innovative data products focused at improving the experience for their customers and supporting the business by providing relevant and timely information and insights that steer decision making across all levels of the business. He has served on the Executive Leadership Team from 2016.

In this episode, Tony explains how he started in data and what led him to get his job at Sportsbet. Tony got a call from a recruiter asking if he wanted to do work with analytics, in a company that does sports and is heavily digital. All of those factors checked the box for Tony, and he took the entry-level analyst role. Over time, the need for analytics has grown, so he has been able to develop some analytics teams. 

One thing Tony does with Sportsbet is getting his data scientists to understand the link with the business, and the company to understand the connection with data science. The main strength of a data scientist is creating models; however, you need someone from the business side to tell them what kind of problems they need to be solved. Then, the data scientists can work on how to solve the issues numerically. Also, the business can consider things they currently cannot do, but data scientists can enable them to do these things. For Sportsbet, everything they do is to improve the customer experience.

Then, Tony explains how his team communicates how data science works. They actually painted out what the modelling cycle looked like and presented it to a lot of people. The feedback he got back is people understood the process and where the difficulties lie in the process. Communicating this always is challenging, especially when embarking on a project that may take six to twelve months to accomplish. Tony suggests breaking up the project into little chunks to avoid miscommunications. In one instance, after six months of work, the company explained the data was not solving the problem they wanted to be addressed. If Tony broke up the project into smaller pieces, this could have been avoided.

Later, Tony explains how Sportsbet is trying to scale globally and all the nuisances that come with the territory. For instance, they need to figure out how to acquire global talent and to overcome uncomplimentary time zones. Also, his team is working on how to utilize artificial intelligence to solve problems. Some of the models work on improving the customer experience directly. Just like how Netflix recommends movies, they are working on recommending a specific horse race to the customer; however, when the race is done, it needs to disappear from the site. Whereas, when Netflix recommends a movie to a customer, it can stay there for potentially years. Sportsbet is working on artificial intelligence to improve these models for their consumers. 

Enjoy the show!

We speak about:

  • [01:20] How Tony got started in data

  • [08:20] Tony’s skills come from the commercial side

  • [11:10] Linking data science and the business

  • [14:30] Communicating how data science works

  • [17:00] Steps to getting others to understand data science

  • [20:40] Getting the best talent for your team

  • [24:00] Structuring teams and the department

  • [28:10] Transiting from analytical roles to commercial roles 

  • [35:30] Working on global expansion

  • [38:10] Solving with artificial intelligence

  • [42:30] Passionate about using numbers to reach an outcome

  • [44:00] Modelling failures with Sportsbet 

  • [47:50] Imposter syndrome in data science  

  • [50:05] Data science is rapidly changing and exciting


Tony’s LinkedIn:


Tony’s Twitter:


  • “There is no one path that always works.”

  • “There are literally thousands of things data scientists couldn’t potentially tackle in any business.”

  • “If you’re not making mistakes, then you aren’t pushing the envelope hard enough.”

  • “Not having imposter syndrome is a sign of lack of knowledge.”

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UNSW Master of Data Science Online: 

Datasource Services: or email Will Howard on 

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Tony Gruebner is based in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

And as always, we appreciate your Reviews, Follows, Likes, Shares and Ratings. Thank you so much for listening. Enjoy the show!

How To Go From Academic to Data Science Leader with Yuval Marom - Analytics and Data Science Professional

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Yuval is an Analytics and Data Science professional with extensive commercial and academic experience. His interests and goals are to be working on interesting and practical problems where there is a need to discover and act on meaningful patterns in data, through advanced analytics and data science. I'm the founder and co-organiser of two meetups: Data Science Melbourne and MelbURN, a user group for Melbourne-based users of the R statistical and data mining programming language. 

In this episode, Yuval tells us about how both of his parents are statisticians and inspired him to fall in love with data science. Growing up, he used Pascal to build spaceship games, and it motivated his passion for programming. Eventually, Yuval went for his Ph.D. and focused on applying how animals learn and behave to robotics. Simulated and physical experiments were pretty basic because robotics were not as advanced as they are today. Later, Yuval realized academia was not necessarily his calling, he was more interested in applying solutions to interesting problems. However, in recent years, research innovation and solving problems are becoming much more intertwined. 

Then, Yuval tells us why it essential to embrace simplicity and praises the advantages he reaped by working for a small business. In retrospect, Yuval realized he developed a higher level perspective of business level thinking by working for such a small team; however, he actually turned down a promotion because he was not yet confident in his technical skills. Get as close to the source of data as possible to get a real appreciation for it. Without appreciation, a person will not be successful in a data science managerial position. Doing technical work, Yuval was able to stay connected to the community and hear varying perspectives on how businesses operate and the different flavors of management. Later, Yuval explains his struggles with becoming a manager, the benefits of building connections in the workplace, and the importance of allocating time for professional development. 

 Enjoy the show!

We speak about:

  • [01:40] How Yuval fell in love with data science

  • [05:45] Social learning in biology

  • [08:05] Lessons learned from completing a Ph.D.

  • [13:10] Research innovation vs. solving problems

  • [15:40] Embrace simplicity 

  • [18:00] Small business advantages 

  • [21:45] Skills to develop before management 

  • [26:00] Results oriented work

  • [30:45] Different flavors of management

  • [32:50] Connection to community 

  • [40:20] Learning to interact with stakeholders + managerial skills 

  • [44:00] Benefits of building connections + education 

  • [48:00] Assume people are at work with good intentions 

  • [52:00] Allocate time for professional development 

  • [59:30] Focus on retention


Data Science Melbourne 


Yuval’s LinkedIn

University of New South Wales

Tweetable Quotes:

  • “Embrace simplicity or go to academia.”

  • “You have to know the business process before you can make sense of the data.”

  • “Some people strive from innovation, whereas others find satisfaction from solving simple problems and making a difference in an organization.”

  • “If you have the right relationships, you can make anything work.”

  • “It’s important to try different experiences while you’re young, but facing the challenges where you are is equally important.”

Now you can support Data Futurology on Patreon! 

Thank you to our sponsors: 

UNSW Master of Data Science Online: 

Datasource Services: or email Will Howard on 

Fyrebox - Make Your Own Quiz!

Yuval Marom is based in Melbourne, Australia.

And as always, we appreciate your Reviews, Follows, Likes, Shares and Ratings. Thank you so much for listening. Enjoy the show!

Prakash Baskar – Founder and President

Prakash Baskar.jpg

Prakash Baskar is the Founder and President of Khyanafi. He helps data leaders to rapidly transition and accelerate the success of data, analytics, and digital initiatives. Previously, Prakash was the Chief Data Officer at Santander Consumer USA where he led enterprise data governance, risk infrastructure & information (risk data aggregation), data quality, business data strategy & solutions, and business & reporting analysis functions.

In this episode, Prakash tells us how he started in the data space at his university. His role was to determine how students were performing. If they are not performing well, he needed to identify why. The graduation rates were low at the school, so Prakash was tasked with finding out what was the problem. Then, Prakash discusses starting a new job and having little direction about what to do. With everchanging technology, the description of your job will always be changing too. As a person going into any role, understand that you do not have to ask permission all the time. Have a clear idea of what you can do and what you cannot do, then do what you feel is right for the organization. Look for where the opportunities for expansion are and find a way to get results.

If you ask ten people what the role of a Chief Data Officer is, you will get ten different answers. Whatever the CDO does will ultimately be to enable others to receive real benefits out of the data. Just because something is not broken, does not mean it cannot be improved. There are many different routes a person can take to become a CDO; however, you need someone with knowledge in multiple aspects of business, technology, and people management. A CDO needs to create value for the organization; learn the company you are supporting to anticipate the problems they may run into.

Later, Prakash explains how in business, any change is hard. How you embrace the change after it is made is what will differentiate yourself from others. If the change is too complicated, people will shut off. Start off by telling the client what the change will do for them rather than the steps it will take to get there. Some other tips when presenting a significant change is to be realistic with what it will take and make sure not to overpromise. It is imperative to select things that you can quickly do with minimal engagement from their people. Plus, make sure you have updates for the company each month, so they understand what is being revealed from the data. Finally, Prakash discusses how essential it is to move around the organization in order to understand different departments and he reveals the inspiration behind his latest business venture.

Enjoy the show!

We speak about:

  • [01:30] How Prakash started in the data space

  • [03:55] The transition into consulting  

  • [07:50] Deciding what problems to tackle first on the job

  • [10:10] The role of Chief Data Officer  

  • [17:20] Creating value for the organization  

  • [22:10] Businesses getting the maximum benefit from analytical work

  • [31:25] How to determine what to work on first with a company

  • [39:00] Data science conferences are full of CDOs

  • [45:45] Actively moving around the organization

  • [50:20] The inspiration behind Khyanafi

  • [53:50] What do you think makes a great leader in the data space?

  • [55:40] Advice for data scientists   


Prakash’s LinkedIn:


Khyanafi’s LinkedIn:

Set up a discovery call with Prakash:


  • “Your job description is only as good as the time it was written.”

  • “I am not a big believer in five or ten-year plans; I make plans six months at a time.”

  • “CDOs have to know the business! Try and learn how the company operates; you will gain more respect when you take the effort to understand the business.”

Now you can support Data Futurology on Patreon! 

Thank you to our sponsors: 

UNSW Master of Data Science Online: 

Datasource Services: or email Will Howard on 

Fyrebox - Make Your Own Quiz!

Prakash Baskar is based in Columbus, Ohio.

And as always, we appreciate your Reviews, Follows, Likes, Shares and Ratings. Thank you so much for listening. Enjoy the show!