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February 17, 2015

Meet the Team: Data Science

City AM published an article in October 2014 titled “Why your firm needs a data scientist”. The piece touches on the fact that businesses and consumers are all talking about big data and the exciting potential it brings. The role of a data scientist is to help make sense of all this data.

“Best described as ‘part analyst, part artist,’ the role requires deep technical skill, in addition to an analytical and creative approach to realising the sheer potential our data has. Futuristic this may sound, but it won’t be long until data scientists represent a staple part of the office environment.”

Afra joined the LendInvest team as Chief Data Scientist in September 2014. She is responsible for implementing a data management system with a view to statistical analysis and modelling. We caught up with Afra to understand exactly what that means…
Hi Afra, welcome to the interview! Let’s start by hearing about your experience prior to joining the LendInvest team?
Prior to joining the LendInvest team I spent a few years working in International Development, studying economics and working for Zopa which was the first online lender for consumer loans.
Tell us a little bit about your new role, and how you came to work at LendInvest?
My role involves a lot of numbers! It essentially sits at the crossroads of quite complicated statistics and the ability to code as well as ensuring the team has access to accurate data and intelligence about the business. I have always had an interest in developing new disruptive systems which led me to the fintech world, and a personally archaic experience with getting a mortgage, was one short step to LendInvest.
What challenges are you looking forward to tackling at LendInvest?
I am very much looking forward to revolutionising the way finance has traditionally been done. There is a lot of work that can be done to improve the underwriting process especially by integrating new sources of data that traditional lenders would not usually consider. There is also an immense opportunity to use APIs to pull external data and streamline the whole process so that the usual 3-4 weeks it takes to get a mortgage can be cut to a few days.
Morning coffee?
An unfortunate addict.
Top 3 desktop tools you can’t live without?
Has to be SQL Server – the backbone of any startup I guess, Tableau – a great data visualisation tool and the good old Microsoft Excel.
What tabs have you got open on your browser right now?
Stack Overflow, Zoopla Market View and lots of search queries to do with the Google Maps API.
What will the next big thing on the internet be?
My bet is on startups that tap into and aggregate your online persona or reputation. You can build a pretty complete picture of someone if you could bring together their Facebook, Instagram and Twitter feeds along with their LinkedIn etc profiles. These could be used to build something of a “trust index” for use in everything from credit underwriting, to renting a flat, to lending someone down the road your car.
…and the next big thing in finance?
The next thing in finance has to be how credit can be made available to people all over the world without having access to comprehensive credit files for underwriting. Telecoms companies sit on huge databases of information that could potentially hold the key to unlocking very large financial flows to emerging markets.
Favourite secret place in London?
Recently discovered Regents Canal although it is not that secret its a great walk on a Sunday afternoon!
Thanks for your time Afra! If you’re interested in joining the #FutureofFinance then check out our careers page to see the latest opportunities lendinvest.workable.com