What do the career path and the day-in-the-life look like for the Senior Director of Data Science at HealthEdge?
We connected with Ayan Chaudhuri to find out!
Interested in learning more about HealthEdge? Make sure to check out their company page!
Where did you grow up? What did your parents do for work?
I grew up in New Delhi, India. My dad was a chemical engineer who used to design oil refineries. He worked for the same company for 30 years. In fact my first 4 years right after birth were in Algiers, Algeria, where my dad was designing a refinery. Admittedly I don’t recall much of anything there, other than the blue waters of the Mediterranean. My mom was a primary school teacher and my homework taskmaster.
Where did you go to college? What did you study and what were some of your initial jobs out of school?
I went to Bangalore University for college, in the city of Bangalore, India. I majored in Computer Science and Engineering. My first job was as a Software Engineer where I used to code in Java. While the feeling of being financially independent was exhilarating, coding off a spec sheet began to take its toll. I wanted to be in applied computing, where software being built could have tangible impacts to society. This led me to pursue Grad School at UMASS in 2002. My master’s thesis involved automatically detecting ocean currents and tracking their movements in time from hourly snapshots of images streamed from NASA satellites. In hindsight that was my first machine learning project, much before the advent of mainstream ML/AI. I wish I had the techniques which I use now, back then.
Picture from Nepal (elevation of 18192 ft) in April 2019, with Mt. Everest (mountain with no snow on top) in the background.
What has attributed to your success thus far and has helped propel you to the position you have now?
I learned early that one must pursue a career that aligns with their core values. For me I always looked for opportunities where I could tangibly see the impact of my work on the core business, and the core business itself would ideally have some societal impact.
Other aspects particularly related to Data Science involves my ability to embrace failure.I consider a failed experiment as an outcome. One may not have succeeded at solving the problem at hand, but next time around one would know what not to do. I also encourage discussions of failed experiments within my team, so that we can collectively learn from each other's experiences.
Can you share the high-level responsibilities of your current position as a Senior Director of Data Science at HealthEdge?
I am responsible for operating a Data line of business for HealthEdge. This involves creating innovative data-driven solutions for our customers who are mainly Health Insurers. Our solutions fall into two categories: (1) focused on automating or optimizing their operational workflows (e.g. claims processing, payment transactions, etc) and (2) focused on achieving positive health outcomes for members insured by our clients.
Any tips for someone considering a career in your field?
The field is continuously evolving at a rapid pace, however, the basics are still applicable. A good grounding in software development, statistical knowledge and the ability to efficiently extract data from large and often disparate data sources are necessary requirements. Moreover a largely overlooked aspect is the ability to effectively communicate highly technical content to mainly non-technical consumers. It is a competency like any other skill that needs to be learned, practiced and honed regularly.
Day in the Life
Coffee, tea, or nothing?
Was nothing, but WFH with kids has made coffee a necessity.
What time do you get into the office?
What are three things that motivate you in your role?
Continuous learning, ability to positively impact people’s lives, helping individuals achieve their aspirations
Every day is different, but can you outline what a typical day looks like for you?
Daily standups to discuss any major concerns, hands on work on at least one project, monitor and at times resolve data governance (changes to the data) issues.
What time do you head out of the office?
Do you log back in at night or do you shut it down completely?
I log back for an hr to respond to non-critical emails
Any productivity hacks?
Spend half a day in a week on a pet project/class.
What are the 3 apps that you can’t live without?
Soundcloud, strava, waze
What professional accomplishment are you proudest of?
Helping a member who got very sick, identify that she was being prescribed the same medications by three different specialists (who did not know that the others were prescribing the same medication) and was thus overdosing.
Who do you admire or call upon for professional advice?
My wife who has a very accomplished career herself and is my go-to person for professional advice.