What is a data scientist, anyway?

Having a facility with numbers helps. But it’s only part of the equation.
By Deborah Gage

Alpine Data co-founder Steven Hillion (left, with T.J. Bay), values data scientists’ diverse skills. PHOTO: TAGGART GORMAN/ALPINE DATA

The path to becoming a data scientist is not a clear one. And that’s by design.Consider the data-science team at Alpine Data, a San Francisco software startup that helps companies analyze their data to make predictions about their businesses. It includes a former marketing manager, a former physicist, a former operations researcher and a former business consultant. Helping the team as well is a former mathematician who was hired as a software engineer.

“We strongly believe that having people from different backgrounds collaborating around a problem is more important than selecting some fancy algorithms,” says Alpine co-founder Steven Hillion.

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