Good news: I am beyond thrilled to announce that two weeks from today, I will be a data scientist at Stitch Fix!
When I left WattTime in December, I had a list of things I was looking for in my next company:
- A high-caliber data team that I can hang out with and learn from
- A clear product with clear traction
- A sufficiently big team overall that I can observe a range of management styles in action, and hone my own leadership approach
- Enough resources to do the job, spent wisely
- A positive, transparent culture composed of happy people
- Office on a BART line, if not bikable within the East Bay
- Part of the Python community
- Solving an emerging and crucial problem in the solar and/or storage sectors
I was more flexible on the specific job title or duties. Platform engineer, data scientist, product manager, and engineering manager were all on the table. I was most excited about data or PM roles, but could see myself taking any of those jobs next if it were the right way to contribute to and grow within the right company.
And Stitch Fix is that right company. Their core business model is dead simple: they send you a box of clothes, you exchange money for said clothes. From their reputation, I was already excited about the overall caliber of the algorithms team, their camaraderie and collaboration, and their smart tech choices (python, spark, et al). Throughout the interview process, they’ve also consistently demonstrated a dedication to practicing thoughtful processes that encourage clear communication. Plus, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that their shockingly large team of 70-80 data scientists is funded by cold hard revenue, not ill-advised VC bubble rounds, and that they use an impressive breadth of methods to address an impressive depth of business problems.
I’ll be on the merch team, cohabited by data scientists who use genetic algorithms to design garments and Markov state models to guide inventory decisions. (Yes folks, those are real live stochastic simulations being used outside of the Pitzer Center! Swoon.) I’ll also be working closely with the folks who make business decisions, and the production engineers. I’m not exactly sure what projects I’ll be starting out with, but that’s partly because my role includes a mandate to define new initiatives, along with the access and latitude necessary to do that well.
Not much more I could ask for :)
Except, you know, that last criterion: staying in energy.
Let me tell you, that was a difficult choice. This is the very first career decision I’ve ever made that was not driven primarily by a desire to work in the field that I’d be working in, and moreover to make a significant contribution to a problem that I viewed as particularly important within that field.
But guess what—there are zero companies within energy that meet all the other criteria right now. Zero. None. And I looked.
There are sub-50-person startups doing great work on important problems, but without the inherent resilience that comes from larger teams and proven products. There are the major solar players, but they’re struggling financially across the board right now and not investing seriously in their tech teams. There are some very attractive options in the south bay, but I’m not ready to move, nor to sign up for a 2hr commute.
I’m honored that I had offers in each of these categories, in roles where I could have made real contributions; each one was extremely difficult to turn down. And I have full confidence that, in time, the startups will mature, the solar market will right itself, and my life will return to a stable equilibrium in which a difficult commute would be only a minor perturbation.
Right now, though… Right now, the correct choice is for me to invest in my capacity to contribute to the long arc of climate solutions by stepping outside of this industry I care so much about, and learning technical, team-building, and product innovation skills that I hope to bring back somewhere down the line. Who knows when that time will come, who knows what the industry will look like. But I’ll be even better equipped for it than I am today, and I’ll have done good work in the meantime.
And since I’ll have all this extra time not commuting and not stressing about the bedrock fundamentals of my employer, I hereby pledge to figure out good ways to spend it! Any energy nonprofits want me on the board? Anyone know of an organizing group that’s retooled to what climate solutions work needs to look like under Trump? I am here for you :)