Ankur Uttam, VP of Data Science and Analytics at Poshmark, speaks with Maria Espona, Professor at ArgIQ and CDO Magazine Editorial Board Member, in a video interview about the ideal profile of a data and analytics leader, the role of data literacy, increasing value for customers with data, and the approach to developing leadership skills.
Poshmark is a social commerce marketplace where users can buy and sell new and secondhand fashion, home goods, and electronics.
Describing the profile of an ideal data and analytics leader Uttam highlights three valuable aspects:
The leader should be able to empathize with all the functions of an organization. Besides working with their teams, they should be able to seamlessly understand, interact, and engage with a marketer, a product manager, an ops person, or even the executive team.
They can identify and distill key business questions from their discussions, and then translate these into data questions that their teams can work on. They can then translate the complex data solutions into simple and actionable business recommendations that others can act on to drive meaningful business outcomes.
They are very passionate about creating new leaders by providing opportunities, training, mentoring, and enabling others to become their best selves.
When asked about the importance of data literacy, Uttam says that it is one of his top priorities as it achieves multiple objectives that can transform an organization to be nimble and data-driven. He adds that empowering business partners to self-serve most of their data needs not only makes them quicker in their decision-making process but also frees up time for data scientists and analysts to focus on more complex data problems.
Elaborating further, Uttam stresses that data literacy is a continuous process with data doubling in volume every few months. This leads to an increase in both the complexity and diversity of data along with new ways of interpreting it. This demands regular learning and training and the literacy loop continues with the creation of new information.
Speaking on leveraging data to increase value for customers, Uttam says that the biggest challenge today is that consumers want both privacy and value. In the past, businesses were able to collect data and information about customers through aggregators leading to better personalization. This is difficult to achieve today due to stringent regulations.
He reveals that Poshmark tries to leverage behavioral signals that users leave through their interactions with different elements of the product. The next steps are to use machine learning (ML) techniques to create a broader persona for each user, enable a hyper-personalized experience, and offer the right products or offers at the right time.
Further in the conversation, Uttam discusses the approach to learning leadership qualities. He says that there isn’t a singular approach to learning leadership and that there are hard skills and soft skills that have to be learned along the way.
Ankur Uttam | VP of Data Science and Analytics, Poshmark
Uttam explains that hard skills can be learned with practice and academic learning. Soft skills like empathy, on the other hand, come with real-life experiences, observation, and being intentional about filling a skill gap.
Next, Uttam speaks about the recent success of LLMs and generative AI. He mentions that the way different tools and products are commoditizing their availability to both businesses and individuals is fascinating and alarming.
He however maintains that the concerns around plagiarism, privacy, ethics, biases, and transparency will likely lead to a lot of regulations around generative AI. Uttam foresees AI and humans working in unison where most of the thinking will be done by humans while the execution will be done by AI.
In conclusion, he opines that there are a lot of human elements still needed before completely transitioning to the new AI world.
CDO Magazine appreciates Ankur Uttam for sharing his insights with our global community.