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SwitchUp Chats with Brendan Herger, Metis Sr. Data Scientist in San Francisco

By Carlos Russo • May 23, 2018

This post was written by Erica Freedman, Content Specialist at SwitchUp.

Brendan is a Sr. Data Scientist at Metis in San Francisco, where he teaches 12-week data science bootcamps. He's also a Machine Learning Engineer and the founder of Capital One's Center for Machine Learning. As a founding member of Capital One’s machine learning group, he has led machine learning efforts by scoping, implementing, and delivering projects. His experience includes Natural Language Processing, Deep Learning, Class Imbalance, as well as specializing in languages and software engineering such as Python, Java, Scala, and SQL.

In his spare time, he enjoys bike riding, baking soufflés, playing video games, and traveling. His recent adventures include Beijing, Tokyo, Paris, Mt. Fuji, Portland, Los Angeles, New Orleans, and Las Vegas. Continue reading to learn about his experiences as an educator at Metis, and discover what he believes makes the ideal Metis student in our interview below:

Your Masters is in Analytics. What skills from this background help you to help future Data Scientists?
My graduate program helped me develop a unique combination of machine learning and software engineering skill sets. Additionally, my experience with software engineering and statistical analysis before grad school provided me with the opportunity to teach and lead many of my fellow students, and build a skill set for aggregating and communicating knowledge.

How did you end up teaching at Metis? What was your journey?
In my last role, I helped build a Machine Learning consultancy within a Fortune 100 company. While it was exciting to work across many domains and bring ML products to production, I began looking for an opportunity to build and support the ML community in a larger way, and build out personal projects such as [keras-pandas].

Do you feel students without an advanced degree can succeed at Metis?
Absolutely! We recognize that every individual brings a unique perspective and skillset.

What qualities do you find make up the most ideal student?
Hunger and drive. I've conducted a few hundred Data Science interviews over the past 2 years, and I've found that individuals who actively want to invest in themselves go the furthest.

What do you consider the strongest parts of the Metis curriculum?
Our curriculum's greatest strength is its unique combination of skills necessary to do Data Science. Through years of iteration and employer feedback, our curriculum has been tuned to include the toolsets necessary to build great data products, from Bayesian statistics to code quality, and from data visualization to Deep Learning.

Having worked in Machine Learning for a corporation, do you feel these professional skills help you with your students? What specifically?
Teaching, learning and running projects are essential skills, in all walks of life. In my last role, I was fortunate to speak at a number of conferences and provide internal trainings, all while bringing data products to production. This crucible has greatly helped me advance skill sets such as scoping projects, forecasting which skill sets will be in demand and keeping a group of motivated individuals smiling and producing great work.

What is your favorite success story?
There are so many great individuals that I've been fortunate to work with, it's difficult to highlight one!

Do you have any advice for future students?
Think long and hard about what you enjoy, and how to make a career of it.  With this domain in mind, set milestones that will ensure that you build a career in this domain. Finally, invest in yourself, and bat out those milestones.

Do you have any advice for students who have already graduated?
Remember that you're always welcome, and that you've got a lot to give the world.


Read what Metis alumni have said on SwitchUp.

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