Umbeler in Action: Kevin Safford

Name, Title and Team:

Kevin Safford, Lead Data Scientist, Data Science Team

How did you hear about Umbel and why did you decide to apply?

I had been aware of Umbel for a while before I joined. There was this growing recognition that interesting things were happening here and Umbel was one of the real standout startups in town. I was running an e-commerce analytics company that was looking for a soft landing spot and one of our advisors shepherded us into Umbel.

Can you describe your typical day?

I wrote a blog post about a day in the life of a data scientist on the Umbel blog. On any given day at Umbel, I could be reading a stack of math papers, writing code against a cutting-edge distributed computational framework, building machine learning models, working with clients to identify unique opportunities to solve problems with data or collaborating with other people to brainstorm new research initiatives.

What would your advice be to someone just starting out in your field?

Be a constant, curious, voracious learner.

Describe your co-workers in three words.

Serious about tacos.

What’s the best part about working at Umbel?

It’s the people here. The work is interesting and challenging, the office is unique with a great location, but there’s just nothing more important than the team itself. And this is a great team.

What’s your go-to motivation songs – when you’re feeling sluggish and need a pick me up?

Nothing, strictly nothing, works better for this purpose than an epic power metal concept album. But my ’90s and ’00s era pop station gets a lot of play, too.

What’s your favorite place in Austin?

I love the Greenbelt, the Alamo Drafthouse, Casino El Camino burgers, Curra’s margaritas and Taco Deli. But I live near a Torchy’s, so I’m willing to compromise on the taco question.

Travel is a big part of the culture at Umbel. What countries have you travelled to so far? And where do you want to go next?

As is typical here, I do love to travel. Recently, I’ve been exploring the US more thoroughly. There are so many great State and National Parks here. I just finished up a camping and hiking trip through the Grand Canyon. This year, I also had trips to France, Turkey and Ukraine. I have lived in Texas most of my life, but have never been to Central or South America. So I think that’s going to be next on the list.

First thing you do when you get to the office?

I go straight for the coffee. Usually before I’ve even put down my bag. Alfréd Rényi
said that a mathematician is a device for turning coffee into theorems. This holds for applied mathematics as well.

You can follow Kevin on Twitter at @KevinSafford. For more information on working at Umbel, please visit our Careers page.