An interview with Robin Xiong, Data Scientist at CouponBirds

1. Could you briefly introduce yourself? What are your main interests outside of work?  

Hi, my name is Robin Xiong. I majored in Network Engineering at university. Before I went to college, I knew nothing about computer science. But when I started to learn computer technology, I fell in love with this incredible creation which can solve so many problems in such an efficient way. And naturally, I started to work as a data scientist when I graduated.

There were circumstances when I found the field and work difficult, but the more I was trapped, the more I was motivated to figure it out. In the process of solving these problems and growing my experience, I have been filled with admiration of the wisdom of the past and the profoundness of computer science. I feel that computers and engineering are gonna be my lifelong partner. After work, I usually look through interesting stuff about computers on the Internet like creative algorithm and minigames. I also go for sightseeing and spend some time on mobile games which could cheer me up.

2. When was the first time you heard about the field and how did you end up working in it?

I haven’t been exposed to the field until university, but I was deeply attracted by its inscrutability and also accuracy at the same time. I love using it to deal with different problems I have never tried. The more I engage, the more I realize that there’s an extremely wide space waiting for me to explore. I thought it would be a good chance to practice and enhance my ability at work. So after graduation, I couldn’t wait to find a job which allows me to solve real problems and accumulate experience. What I’ve learned from work powered me up and help me a lot in the following challenges, which makes me feel fulfilled and happy. I believe that I’ll stay in this industry for life due to my obsession with computer science.

3. What is your current role at CouponBirds?

Currently, I’m working at CouponBirds as a data scientist and concentrating on improving the website. CouponBirds is a platform providing online coupon codes and deals with the best quality to users. 

To be specific, I manage the data for CouponBirds, aiming at offering faster, wider-covered and more accurate coupon data. In addition, I conduct analyses of user behavior to find out their preferences and try to optimize our product. In one word, users’ needs are our direction of working and serving. And we welcome any advice to help us improve and make CouponBirds a better place for couponers. 

4. What has been the most exciting part of your work in CouponBirds?

There is a group of lovely colleagues at CouponBirds who always come together and work things out. I love the people here and the energetic working environment which I think are so important for my progress. The most exciting part of my work is that more and more users come to CouponBirds to look for coupons, and this means great recognition of our hard work. Meanwhile, I really appreciate that an increasing number of users are sending feedback and advice to us. From their messages, we realize our shortage and what users really need and we are now aiming at providing them with a better experience.

5. Which tools and software are essential for your team?    

The most used tools in my daily work are Python and Mysql. It’s convenient to use Python when dealing with data, especially in data cleansing, modeling, and other functionalities. It has some really helpful modules, too. The database is also an essential part. For me, I’m used to Mysql and of course, everyone can choose with their own preferences. As for data visualization, my favorite is certainly BI which is powerful to make report forms but also easy to apply at the same time. 

6. What does the future of CouponBirds look like? How does a data scientist stay up to speed on the latest innovations?

In the near future, we’ll try to tag “CouponBirds” with “The Best Coupon Site”, which means when online shoppers are in need of coupons, CouponBirds will come out first in their minds. And this is just a small step. With the rise of big data, my job is to provide the personalized service with massive data analyzing. We will provide our users with prompt and convenient coupon hunting experience and gain more love and trust from them I believe.

7. What would be your three top tips for early career data scientists looking to develop in this field?

First of all, there are several branches of data processing such as data analysis and data mining. So you must have a specific direction in the beginning. You can start with learning what exactly are these methodologies about. And then you can start to learn what you are interested in. 

My advice is to read and study more books and practice in the meantime. Only when you practice, you can realize if you have really acquired new knowledge. You can also learn in working as there are practical data and requirements in projects. Solving data-related problems allows you to improve yourself at a rapid speed. Last but not least, I believe that math is the basic knowledge and skills for this job. So, do spend some time on mathematics and you’ll find data science is so handy.

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