#66 How to Structure a Data Analytics Team with June Dershewitz – Director of Analytics

June Dershewitz.jpg

June Dershewitz has spent her career driving analytics strategies for major businesses. She's currently Director of Analytics at Twitch, the world's leading video platform and community for gamers (a subsidiary of Amazon). As an analytics practitioner, she builds and leads teams that focus on marketing analytics, product analytics, business intelligence, and data governance. In her prior life as a consultant, she was a member of the leadership team at Semphonic, a prominent analytics consultancy (now part of Ernst & Young). As a long-standing advocate of the analytics community, she was the co-founder of Web Analytics Wednesdays; she's also a Director Emeritus of the Digital Analytics Association and a current Advisory Board Member at Golden Gate University. She holds a BA in Mathematics from Reed College in Portland, Oregon.

 In this episode, June says she fell into data by accident, she has a bachelor's degree in math. She got an idea that she wanted to move to San Francisco and work with a startup. June was invited for an interview as an analyst, and she loved it. It is only a matter of time for June to meet someone before she starts talking about goats. June grew up on a goat farm; her mother was a farmer. After college, June got a job working for a mathematician in Philadelphia. Later, June decided she wanted to work in the industry. She and her boyfriend moved to San Francisco, and both ended up getting jobs with startups. 

June says in startups; people wear many hats. If you come across a problem, you have the liberty to take ownership and solve it. In smaller companies, it is easier to get a holistic view of the workplace. It is possible at more substantial companies too; June currently works for Twitch, which is owned by Amazon. When June arrived, there were 400 employees, but now has over 1500. One skill June has gotten to use to is stepping up to own things. She still feels empowered to solve problems and to take ownership of those problems. Business intelligence means lots of things to lots of people. Before coming to Twitch, June never claimed to own it outright; however, because she is farther along in her career, she has more experience to draw back on. One risk that we have as data people is potentially getting pigeonholed into a thing that we are good at and getting stuck there. June knows a ton about Adobe Analytics; she could have continued to exist in that realm and be just fine. However, she thrives on solving a multitude of problems and being challenged in the workplace. Later, June discussed the hub and spoke organization model, the data quality journey at Twitch, and getting involved in the data science community. 

Enjoy the show!

We speak about:

  • [01:40] How June started in the data space

  • [08:20] Solving problems in startups 

  • [09:45] Getting a holistic view in the workplace  

  • [11:20] Feeling unsure about owning a piece of work 

  • [15:30] Business intelligence skillsets for data scientists   

  • [19:35] Clear understanding of data roles in the workplace 

  • [20:55] An overview of June’s teams’ structures 

  • [27:10] Managing career transitions with the hub and spoke model  

  • [29:25] Assigning each person a technical buddy  

  • [32:10] The data quality journey  

  • [41:40] Evolution of data quality at Twitch  

  • [48:00] Becoming involved in the data science community  

  • [53:10] Other ways June stays involved in her communities 

  • [55:20] Advice for breaking into the data science field 


June’s LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jdersh

Non-Invasive Data Governance: The Path of Least Resistance and Greatest Success

Data Governance: How to Design, Deploy and Sustain an Effective Data Governance Program


  • “The thing about being a data person at that time was we just had to figure it out.”

  • “I was the vice president of everything that needed to get done.”

  • “At Twitch, we don’t have a clear definition of what a data engineer means.”

  • “We chose to move to an organization model that is hub and spoke.”

  • “Data governance can mean lots of things to lots of people.”

Thank you to our sponsors:

UNSW Master of Data Science Online: studyonline.unsw.edu.au

Datasource Services: datasourceservices.com.au or email Will Howard on will@datasourceservices.com.au

Fyrebox - Make Your Own Quiz!

June Dershewitz is based in San Francisco, California.

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

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

Yuval Marom.jpg

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: studyonline.unsw.edu.au 

Datasource Services: datasourceservices.com.au or email Will Howard on will@datasourceservices.com.au 

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!

#50 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: https://www.linkedin.com/in/prakashbaskar/

Khyanafi: http://www.khyanafi.com

Khyanafi’s LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/khyanafi/about/

Set up a discovery call with Prakash: https://calendly.com/prakashbaskar/discoverycall


  • “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: studyonline.unsw.edu.au 

Datasource Services: datasourceservices.com.au or email Will Howard on will@datasourceservices.com.au 

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!

#46 Today is the Best Time to be a Data Scientist with Jonny Bentwood – Global Head of Data & Analytics

Jonny Bentwood.jpg

Jonny Bentwood – Global Head of Data & Analytics

Jonny Bentwood is the Global Head of Data & Analytics at Golin. Jonny is an innovative leader with 15+ years of experience in communications - winning, retaining and working for Fortune 100 clients such as Facebook, Unilever, Heineken, Barclays, HP and Microsoft. He has a proven record as a creator of pioneering solutions with ability to transform business to radically impact bottom line. Jonny presents complex information in an engaging and informative style and is a strategic consultant to executives using data to provide guidance on reputational and crisis issues and maximising marketing campaigns.

In this episode, Jonny tells a story about how MTV got in touch with him to apply data in figuring out who would most likely win The Apprentice. After being in the industry for over twenty years, he believes this is the best time to be in data. CMOS are spending more of their money than ever before on analytics. How do data scientist prove their value? People use data purely in a descriptive way. To succeed and bring value to clients, one needs to switch from describing the data to telling the customer what they need to do with the data. Set the goals of who, what, and why to figure out which message will be most useful before you even start. Take it a step further by using prescriptive data and make it predictive. This is where you study what will happen in the future. We are continually absorbing and understanding what things could happen and will happen. This opportunity is essential to identify issues before they occur and fix them.

Later, Jonny explains how understanding the customer requires a customer journey approach to increase marketing efficacy. Instead of doing random stuff, focus objectives with specific tactics and strategies. Something that gets on Jonny’s nerves is when people say it isn’t rocket science. Jonny wants people who do the research and figure out the information that counts. Then, we learn why organizations need to be data-driven. It is essential to train people and give them the technology to improve their jobs and become more efficient. Jonny challenges the status quo in his business. For instance, they have unlimited holiday, and their gender pay gap is positive to women.

Enjoy the show!

We speak about:

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

  • [04:50] Public relations

  • [06:00] Descriptive, prescriptive, and predictive

  • [08:15] Difference between interesting and useful

  • [10:00] Understanding the customer

  • [15:25] Cultural shift of data in organizations

  • [19:10] Challenging the status quo  

  • [22:40] Shiny object syndrome

  • [26:45] The twenty percent time

  • [30:00] Bringing data application to the masses

  • [34:30] Each stage of the customer journey  

  • [39:30] Getting value for money

  • [42:45] Return on investment

  • [44:15] Data + creativity  


Jonny’s LinkedIn: https://uk.linkedin.com/in/jonnybentwood

Jonny’s Twitter https://twitter.com/jonnybentwood?lang=en


  • “To be truly smart you need to go from descriptive to prescriptive.”

  • “For a data scientist, the word interesting is one of the worst insults you can get. It has to be useful, what is the point you are trying to make?”

  • “There’s always going to be something else. What you need to do is focus on what you have.”

  • “Some of the best stuff has data infused with creativity.”

Now you can support Data Futurology on Patreon!  


Thank you to our sponsors: 

UNSW Master of Data Science Online: studyonline.unsw.edu.au 

Datasource Services: datasourceservices.com.au or email Will Howard on will@datasourceservices.com.au 

Fyrebox - Make Your Own Quiz!

Jonny Bentwood is based in London, United Kingdom.

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