DARREN SHAW

Data Scientist, Mobile Marketing
Seattle, WA
Joined: 2017

Darren is out to change your stereotyped notion of data scientists. Sweater vests and pocket protectors? Not unless it’s about having fun at the office. Cutting-edge, mobile-first technology? Now we’re talking…

Tell us about your job! What do you do exactly? What do you love about it?

I have a couple main projects I’m focused on at the moment. The first is a massive experimental design that will observe how a variety of factors within our push notification framework affect our customers. This one is great because it combines the complex design of experiments and analytics with our number one priority: providing the best customer experience. The second project area I have is the application of machine learning to our push notification subscribers. Again, same outcome priority, but this time it is through implementing statistical modeling to historical trends within our customer base.

So what did you do before Groupon? How did you get here?

Prior to Groupon, I worked in advanced analytics at AT&T, applying machine learning to several of their email marketing campaigns.

You were at AT&T prior to Groupon, so can you talk about how you ended up here?  

I entered into AT&T through their new-grad tech program. This was a great opportunity to get acclimated to a large professional work environment and give thought to what I wanted out of my career. Though I was working in a data science group, I found a yearning to be closer to cutting-edge technologies and making a visible impact on customers.

Did you want to work at Groupon or did a recruiter reach out to you?

I pursued Groupon for a variety of reasons, some of which were the size and mission of the company. The size of Groupon meant they are a household name, but also lean enough to be nimble and quick-moving in the industry. Finally, their mission to be the daily habit in local commerce requires them to leverage the latest open-source tech as well as ensure that every day you are working on something that will impact the end-customer.

Once you were interviewing, was there anything that surprised you about Groupon that you didn’t know before?

I cannot understate the level of transparency I have observed during both my interview process and while working in the company. Transparency is an overused buzzword right now in nearly all organizations. It is one thing to say it and another completely to practice it.

How would you compare the culture/work at AT&T to Groupon?

When you fall into a 200,000+ person company you’ll be hard-pressed to find someone that is honest and clear regarding your performance, career ambitions, or how you fit into the current/future goals of the company. From the very first interview I had with Groupon, they gave me feedback – when asked 🙂 – and they continue to make sure the projects I work on help me build the skills to be where I want to be in one, three, and five years down the line.

What was your first role at Groupon?

I came in as a Data Scientist on the Push Notifications team. Luckily, I’m still on the same team, but our responsibilities have expanded slightly to be more mobile-focused.

How does your work connect to Groupon’s mission of being the daily habit in local commerce?

My work focuses on providing the best customer experience to our push notification customers. This mobile-only notification within a mobile-most company is a key opportunity to notify users of local selection while best serving their interests.

What’s your favorite local business?

Columbia City Bakery has a pretty great pistachio cake.

Tell us something that might surprise us about you.

Within a two week span last year, I went from circling the perimeter of Iceland in a camping van, to returning stateside, selling everything that didn’t fit in my car and driving 30+ hours to Seattle. It has been a great year!

What’s your favorite Groupon memory?

One morning the team surprised our manager by doing our best impression of him (aka all wearing sweater vests). Unfortunately, he didn’t come dressed for the occasion, but if I recall correctly he went out during lunch and picked up a vest so he didn’t feel left out.

What’s unique about Groupon’s Engineering culture?

One thing that has stood out to me from the first phone call I had with Groupon and all the way to all my current coworkers, is steadfast transparency. It is invigorating to work in an environment that values clear, honest communication at all levels.

Can you describe what makes Data Science at Groupon compelling or unique?

The world is your oyster with data science at Groupon. We are a mobile-first company, so you’re operating in a complex landscape. Projects range from recommender systems, to geolocation, to churn modeling, to the design of experiments, and much more. From soup to nuts, you’ll have ownership starting at technical development and up through presenting findings and recommendations to executive stakeholders. From my short time, I’ve been able to design large-scale experiments, complete modeling projects on our push-notification subscribers, and present my work to the highest levels of the company.

What was your first impression of Groupon?

Great meeting room names, even better view of the Puget Sound.

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve worked on?

I’m lucky enough that my current work is the most rewarding and challenging I have experienced. Last reported we have over 30 million Groupon customers and even more users active on our mobile platform. We are a mobile-most company. The ability to be a data scientist on such a large customer base in the fast-moving world of mobile marketing means I feel like I’m making a noticeable impact in the lives of our customers.

Where can we find you outside work?

Working to enjoy all that Seattle has to offer: hiking, camping, skiing, and even ferry-riding. Other than the outdoors, I enjoy playing guitar and am learning the piano.

What do your parents think you do?

My mom thinks I’m a Software Engineer on push notifications and is a big fan of the messages we send out every day. She has been subscribed since I started. My dad isn’t subscribed, but he has taken a liking to frequently checking out our Goods section and letting me know the great deals he finds. Recently, he purchased a new OBD-II car scanner from Goods. They both have their own unique way of supporting the work.

Tabs or spaces?

Spaces