My First Year as a Data Scientist at Wise

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I joined Wise as a Graduate Data Scientist in September 2022 – what a ride it has been since then! I relocated from the Tallinn office to London, we rebranded from blue to green, I’m no longer a Graduate and now a mid-level Data Scientist, and I just switched teams.

I’ve grown quite a lot during my first year at Wise, personally and professionally. Working together with and learning from experienced Data Scientists helped me become stronger technically, while the excellent mentorship I’ve received from people across different domains facilitated my personal growth.

The following is a summary of the three main takeaways from my first year at Wise!

1. Cultivate impact thinking

Throughout my first year at Wise, I’ve learned the importance of thinking beyond just completing tasks and focusing on the impact of my work. By constantly asking myself how my work contributes to the company’s goals and the value it brings to our customers, I have been able to prioritize my efforts and make a meaningful difference.

Trying to attach a number to a project might not always be easy and straightforward, but taking the time to sit down and derive an impact estimate before getting your hands dirty is crucial! I like to think about this impact estimate as the north star that’s guiding my work, almost resembling the ‘why?’ of the project.

Cultivating impact thinking also implies going beyond the purely technical aspects of the Data Scientist role. It has pushed me to consider the broader implications of my work on the business, our customers, and even society as a whole. This mindset has allowed me to approach problem-solving from a more holistic perspective, considering not only the technical feasibility but also the potential value and impact of the solutions I propose.

To be honest, if anyone had asked me one year ago about the key success factors as a Data Scientist, I would’ve probably gotten lost in the particularities of various technical skills. Looking back, cultivating impact thinking has been instrumental in my growth as a Data Scientist at Wise. It has helped me become more strategic in my decision-making, more focused in my efforts, and more aligned with the mission and goals of the organization. By constantly asking myself “why?” and seeking to understand the impact of my work, I have been able to contribute meaningfully to the success of the company.

So, remember to step back, zoom out – and ask ‘Why?’.

2. Embrace autonomy

As a Data Scientist at Wise, I’ve had the opportunity to work autonomously and independently on my projects – almost from Day 1. This level of independence has allowed me to explore creative solutions, experiment with different approaches, and take risks. Embracing autonomy has not only enhanced my problem-solving skills but also boosted my confidence in my abilities.

Still, it also required a non-insignificant period of adjusting to this way of working. I had to get used to essentially being my own manager, being comfortable with deciding myself what to work on and why. This was both liberating and challenging. However, seeking guidance from more experienced colleagues and actively participating in team meetings and discussions helped me navigate this new way of working.

Reflecting on my first few weeks at Wise, I still remember being a bit hesitant, waiting for someone to tell me what to do, instead of just thinking about and exploring the problem from my perspective. Adopting this way of thinking wasn’t easy and probably the biggest difference to being at University, where it’s usually quite clearly mapped-out what has to be done by what date, what constitutes good and bad.

Overall, it probably took me a good 6 months or so to fully (at least I’d like to believe that) overcome this. What I’ve learned from talking to other, more experienced people who joined around the same time I did was quite refreshing: going through this process is (perhaps not surprisingly) entirely normal!

Throughout my first year at Wise, I’ve realized the importance of fully engaging with the company’s culture and mission. By actively participating in team activities, attending company events, and contributing to the overall growth and success of the organisation, I have been able to build strong connections.

Engaging fully also means staying curious and continuously learning. I’ve made it a priority to stay up to date with the latest industry trends and technologies, attending webinars, workshops, and conferences to expand my knowledge and skills. This commitment to ongoing learning has not only helped me grow as a Data Scientist but has also allowed me to bring new ideas and perspectives to the table. In fact, this is also highly encouraged within Wise’s Data Science community.

Another aspect of this which I found to be quite helpful is to be involved in organising various events, even if that’s just in a minor role. This helps massively with getting to know other people in related or entirely different roles and allows you to add a completely different facet to the types of problems you’d work on usually.

Overall, my first year at Wise has been an incredible journey of personal and professional development. I’m excited to see what the future holds and to continue making meaningful contributions to the company’s success. Onwards.