Meet Ovative Group’s Data Science Team
by Andrew Van Benschoten
May 23, 2019
Data Science

In the months ahead, our Data Science team will lift the hood on how we leverage tech to drive value for our clients, what makes our processes work, and all of the awesome math and tools we get to use. We’ll also discuss happenings across the Twin Cities such as conferences, meetups and the like.

Minnesota is one of the best places in the nation to be a tech worker: we’re home to 19 Fortune 500 companies (20 if you include Cargill, which you should) that span a very diverse range of industries, from agriculture to retail to healthcare. As these companies continue to expand in the Information Age, data scientists have innumerable opportunities to leverage their skills and make a difference.

Problem is – there just aren’t enough of us around. Many articles point to tech worker shortages across the state. While this has positive implications for our careers, it also means that each of us carries the imperative responsibility to help create a healthy tech ecosystem that fosters growth and development. This will in turn power the Twin Cities business landscape and the overall health of our state.

So how does Ovative fit into the business landscape? Three words: Enterprise Marketing Return, also known as EMR. Our mission is to fundamentally change the way companies think about marketing by using EMR as a single, unified metric of success. Our journey to continuously develop EMR requires our tech teams to leverage cutting-edge technology, effective R&D strategies (shameless plug for our talk at Data Tech 2019), advanced statistical technology and powerful causal testing approaches.

Ovative’s Data Science team sits at the intersection of client services, methodology and technical architecture: on any given day we might evaluate an A/B test, research causal inference methods for Multi-Touch Attribution, and finish by parallelizing an ML model inside a Docker container.

As a result, we strongly believe in full-stack data science. We aim to continually better our ability to take a business question and translate it into an initial approach, build a very basic proof-of-concept (including V0.0.1 of a potential production model), and work with stakeholders to repeat that process until completion. This iterative approach is central to delivering value in a timely manner, as Ovative services over 30 clients and each possesses unique business questions and goals.

Now that you have a brief understanding of what we do, let’s introduce the team. Hopefully this will help provide some background on your future article authors, as well as supply icebreaker topics for when you find yourself with them at a tech event.

Andrew Van Benschoten

A Minnesota native, Andrew took the all-too-common path of biology researcher turned digital marketer. His Ph.D studies took him to Silicon Valley, where he quickly learned that Excel spreadsheets did not constitute cutting-edge infrastructure. Furthermore, he saw that the types of questions being asked in data science were nearly identical to questions one might pose in a lab: What makes a given process work? Is it possible to change the outcome of a system in a meaningful way? How can one even begin to make progress against a broad, open-ended question? From there, the rest is history.

John Chandler

John terms himself an “accidental data scientist”, since he ended up in the field because one of his ultimate frisbee teammates was the HR director for aQuantive, an online advertising company. John worked for them for eight years until they were acquired by Microsoft, then put in four years there, finishing as the Director of Research for Microsoft TV. Along the way he worked on all the major aspects of digital marketing (the agency and advertiser side; the publisher side; and advertising exchanges) and received a Ph.D. in Statistics. He’s continued to work on data science projects across a variety of industries since leaving Microsoft in 2012. He teaches at the University of Montana as a Clinical Professor of Marketing.

Lori Morrow

Lori is the data whisperer. She has more than 25 years of experience tackling data and mining insights in the retail, travel, healthcare, and membership/club industries. Her seven years building out customer-centric database and CRM initiatives at Target Corporation opened her eyes to the importance of metric-based tactics and testing across all channels of business.

Matt Loth

Matt is a on a long journey to understand the mechanisms in society that influence (for better and for worse) the choices of individuals. He started by learning the fundamental rules of the game by studying physics, psychology, and math. Following his formal education, he spent four years working in the nonprofit sector focused on informal science education for youth and families and then dove into the corporate world. For the last four years (working at digital marketing agencies) he has had the opportunity to peek behind the curtain to see how a variety of Fortune 500 companies plan and evaluate the effectiveness of their influence on consumers.

Rachel Artig

Rachel was drawn to Data Science because the field has enough ambiguity to make her feel uncomfortable, but at the same time the ambiguity allows her to leverage her creative side. She keeps learning new methodologies and programming languages and that’s why she’s staying in the Data Science space at Ovative.

Ross Dahlke

Ross did what every aspiring Data Scientist does: attend Journalism School. But while his fellow “J-Schoolers” were writing nut grafs, Ross was busy writing code. He quickly became interested in quantifying the media ecology and studying how elite opinions in online spaces impact the offline decisions of non-elites. Ross continues his academic research and presents at conferences across the country. Also, while in high school in Wisconsin, he founded a cheese company that is quickly approaching $2M in sales.

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