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Career Spotlight – Matleen Makko-Boronad, Data Science Manager, Deliveroo

TrueNorth’s “Career Spotlight” series explores career paths within Data Science and Artificial Intelligence industries, sharing insight from the professionals within our network.

This week we spoke with Matleen Makko-Boronad, part of Deliveroo‘s Data Science team. 


What has been the highlight of your working career to date?

Honestly, joining Deliveroo. I spent many years working in the financial industry and did a short stint in e-commerce.

Neither of those industries really resonated with me and I had just decided to take a month off to go volunteering in Kenya when I pretty much stumbled upon my role at Deliveroo.

It felt right the moment I walked into the office and it’s been an incredible ride so far. I still took this month off before joining Deliveroo though – looking after injured and orphaned monkeys was a major highlight in my life outside of my working career.

How have been the most important mentors in your career to date, and what have they taught you?

My most important mentor was my first manager. He was very hands-off, not really a ‘people’s person’, extremely cynical – yet he taught me a ton, supported my career and I somehow always felt like he had my back.

Anyone who had ever had him as a manager rated him a great deal. When I asked him what his secret was, he gave me the management 101 in one line: ‘If you hire good people you can trust them to do good work’.

It’s the trust that empowers people to bring their best selves to work every day.

What are the most exciting trends in the market at the moment?

I’m unsure if it’s even a trend in the market, but the concept I think about the most recently is prescriptive analytics.

The analytics and data science industry has matured a lot in the development of tools and skills for descriptive and predictive analytics but prescriptive analytics is still largely a manual piece in the puzzle.

It’s essentially the cherry on top of the cake: descriptive analytics helps us understand what has happened, predictive analytics helps us forecast what is likely to happen and prescriptive analytics should tell us what action we should take.

The latter is still highly dependent on the human subjective experience and interpretation of data, and I’m excited to see how we can focus more on developing tools, models and automation for prescribing the best course of action for any given problem.

What’s the one key tip you’d share with people looking to build a career in Data?

Strong fundamentals are more important than knowledge of the latest trends or specialisation. It’s no joke that anyone working in data analytics or data science spends 80% of their time cleaning data. SQL, pandas, even Excel, writing good documentation and having decent communication skills are the underrated basics that allow anyone wanting to build a career in data to jump onto different opportunities and problems, and there are many.

What factors have you found most important when remote working?

For me it’s critical to stick to my morning and evening routines that ‘frame’ the day like a commute normally would.

I’m also learning that scheduling breaks between meetings is more important when at home; in the office simply walking from one meeting room to the other serves as this vital break for the brain to switch to the next topic.

How have you found maintaining ‘team and company culture’ whilst working remotely?

I’m definitely over-indexing on team time – we have lots of informal and formal stand-ups, ‘lunch breaks’ and ‘tea times’.

Feels like most people really need that casual time with co-workers which would happen naturally in the office, and it’s certainly helped maintain team and company culture.

Equally, more frequent and more personal (written) updates from all levels of management to the teams create transparency and build trust.

What is your top tip for companies currently going through substantial digital transformation?

Find what feels good – investing in certain technologies and solutions, just because other companies are but that you have no experience with, is pretty much a guaranteed failure.

I’ve seen many expensive multi-year digital transformation projects spectacularly fail in the financial industry for this reason.

Whilst a long-term vision is certainly needed for any substantial transformation, small steps taken with confidence and skill make big changes.

What do you think has the potential to disrupt your sector in the next 10 years?

Delivery robots and drones becoming the new norm.

They’ve been around for a couple of years now but neither the technology nor the legislation is fully there yet for delivery robots to be a daily sight.

I think we’re not far though. I’m curious and excited to see how they will transform the food and on-demand delivery sectors, and importantly, how human perception of robots as daily companions will shape.

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