A place where art and data meet
It might be surprising to hear from someone who considers herself a data “geek”, but I love crafting. I’ll take any excuse to make things with my hands, be it drawing, painting, sculpting, or my longest-lasting obsession, ceramics. I still go to the ceramics studio every week to get my fix, and then I use Adobe Express to capture and share my projects with the rest of the world.
What I do
Creating things and building from the ground up – whether in the ceramics studio or the office drives me. Professionally, it’s a rare luxury to help build a technology that you actually use in your day-to-day life. It’s even more rare to be part of the team that is always working to make that technology both better and more useful each day. That’s exactly what I do in my role as a Lead Data Scientist. Did I lose you? My job is to analyze data about how people use Adobe Express so that various teams at the company can understand what works well, what doesn’t, and how we can improve the solution to make it better – for everyone.
“It’s often said that data science is more of an art than a science. That’s because as data scientists, success is down to the questions we ask, not just the information we analyze.”
Making something ‘better’ from the perspective of a data scientist, can mean a lot of different things. To me and my work specifically, it means tailoring the technology so that it understands what people need to bring their ideas to life. It means looking at both usage data and qualitative data, digesting it, and integrating everything we’ve learned back into the product to make it more intuitive and user-friendly.
And this takes a lot of creative thinking and problem solving.
Lately, I’ve been analyzing use cases (what people use Adobe Express for, and why), and how, as a company, we can adjust our offerings to make more people successful with the product. Adobe Express is meant for any and everyone, so we cater to a very wide variety of skill levels and what people want from using the app. To do that we’ve had to analyze the most popular things that users do and figure out where the gaps are compared to the less popular features. I’m constantly asking why and searching for patterns.
There’s something unique about working on a solution that “democratizes” creativity. Adobe Express really is designed for everyone - from hobbyists like myself to veteran creatives who know exactly what story they want to tell and how. That means I can get imaginative and play around, test the features I’m analyzing, and bring context to my research. I get personally invested in my projects, and I also get to speak from first-hand experience when presenting my findings to my manager and colleagues.
Each week, I meet with a crowd of colleagues from our engineering, product management, technical support and customer success teams to understand what they need to know about our customers, and how they want to improve our offerings. From there, it’s time to put my head down, play around with the data, start asking questions and connecting the bits of information together to craft a story – which is rooted in analytics.
Creativity Looks Like This
Creativity isn't just about making art and being creative isn’t just for a select few. At Adobe, we believe creativity is about expressing ourselves — and celebrating how everyone does that in a way that is uniquely them.
How math and computer science got me where I am
The problem solving — that’s the part of my job I live for. Digging, processing, coming up with the right queries, and exploring different ways to combine and visualize the data to uncover hidden trends – that’s my world.
I’ve always viewed math and problem-solving as incredibly creative exercises. I first got into computer science in college and fell in love with the idea of writing and using code to build and create. Coding lets me create something new out of nothing, and like any artform — ceramics included —I’m able to approach my version of a blank canvas in my own unique way. Soon after college, I got introduced to the world of data science and was completely hooked.
I solve problems with creativity and data
Creativity was at the core of my first role at Adobe. I worked on Adobe XD, tasked with coming up with ways to make designers’ lives easier with the tool. My initial project: find out what led Adobe XD customers to become “high-intensity” users, which we defined as roughly the top 25 percent of the most active users (meaning they used the tool around eight or more times per month). The project turnaround time was quick (a month!), so my questions revolved around getting to the crux of who these customers were, their motivation to use the tool, and how we could emulate their behavior for other users.
My questions (What drives these users? What do they love about the tool? How can we make other users as successful as they are?), led me to build a data model, wrap my head around a technology I had never used before, and report my findings. It still makes me so proud to think that I had a part in our leadership team, rethinking the approach to developing Adobe XD because of my analysis of the data I compiled.
While working on Adobe XD, I analyzed data around which art board sizes were most popular and should be suggested as defaults for users. This ended up on the home screen of XD.
This data uncovered unexpected behaviors of Adobe XD users that we wouldn’t have known otherwise. The willingness to make data a core part of our decision-making at Adobe makes my job as a data scientist both inspiring and rewarding. It’s rare that as someone newer in my career I’m given the opportunity work with a massive data set, with creative freedom from a leadership team, to come up with new ideas that genuinely enrich our understanding of customers.
Now, my team cares deeply about getting to the core of what our Adobe Express users need, and the amount of qualitative research we do is a testament to that. Hard data is invaluable, but when customers tell you directly what they want and where they are running into issues with your solutions, your analyses become more focused and deliver more actionable results.
How to know if a career in data science is for you
It’s often said that data science is more of an art than a science. That’s because as data scientists, success is down to the questions we ask, not just the information we analyze. There’s no such thing as a perfect data set, and there are always pieces missing from the puzzle. My job is to use creative and imaginative thinking to take the pieces we do have and construct a full picture. Then use what that picture tells us to inform how Adobe best serves our customers. It’s abstract creative thinking with a real-world impact, and I look forward to doing the work every day.
Of course, the work is just part of the joy of working at Adobe. There’s also the recognition we get for our efforts and ambition. I joined the business as a Data Scientist in March of 2020, and by June 2022 I moved to Adobe Express as Lead Data Scientist. And then there are the Adobe people, who are smart, inspiring, and down-to-earth. I only met my team virtually at first because of the pandemic, yet I instantly felt connected to them, and it was truly refreshing.
Data science isn’t unique to Adobe. You can find satisfaction doing this type of job anywhere. But I’ve found happiness here, and I’m encouraged to think outside the box, tap into my own experience and creativity, and have been entrusted to do so from Day 1. For someone like me who finds joy in the place where art and science meet, Adobe is the place I want to be.