Crunching data and crushing ‘za with Max Schmeiser
A much anticipated day– August 9th, 2022 — AKA “Max Schmeiser Day.”
Our Cultivator crew was grateful to host Max Schmeiser, VP of Data Science & Engineering at Netflix. A Regina native, Max grew up on the northwest side of the city in Dieppe and studied post-secondary at the University of Regina. A proud Saskatchewanian, when Max returns home to visit family, he often looks for a way to give back to #SKtech.
With a rich history in the tech industry, Max has had the opportunity to lead teams through the startup phase and transition his career to work at large organizations such as Amazon and Convoy. Living in Seattle, Washington, Max joined Netflix in early 2022 and currently leads the ads, studio, and content data science & engineering teams.
Before moving to Netflix, Max spent over two years at Twitter as the Head of Data Science where he rebuilt their data processes. Max explains that his 200-person team’s mission was “to ensure that accurate data and rigorous empirical analysis inform every decision at Twitter. We work backward from a deep understanding of business problems and objectives to drive business impact through applying the appropriate technique from the data science toolkit (experimentation, observational causal inference, ML, forecasting, analytics, optimization, etc.).”
Welcoming Max into our Cultivator community was an exciting opportunity for our founders to take advantage of some 1:1 meetings and dive into a Q+A over Houston Pizza (one of Max’s favourite Regina restaurants). Max shared his experience of expanding his career path through tech, working on different teams, and transitioning through different company cultures.
Here are some soundbites we captured from Max’s fireside chat…
“When leading a team, treat your employees like peers. It’s about people and supporting them in their career growth, even if that means moving away from your own team. Be a coach/mentor rather than a boss. Be mindful of being in their shoes – if a task is not much work and will distract them from what they’re working on, just do it yourself.”
“When getting commitment from high-performers, learn what each individual wants. For some this may be learning new skills — working on and with new things. Some people care about money, some care about promotions – lean into whatever motivates them.”
IMPORTANCE OF DATA
“If you don’t track your data, you’re not going to get it back. Capture it and store it. What are the core metrics for the business? What are your key measures of your success and what are the key inputs to those measures? This guides you in deciding what to focus on, where there are opportunities, etc..”
SUCCESS FOR STARTUPS
“Understand your industry and the real pain points that exist within it.”
“The bad times pass just like the good times don’t last forever.”