Beacon Data, Inc. Managing Partner and Co-Founder
Babson College - Franklin W. Olin Graduate School of Business Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.), Entrepreneurship
Current Time 0:00
/
Duration Time -:-
Progress: NaN%

How did you get to where you are today? What is your story? What incidents and experiences shaped your career path?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Thu Jul 23 2020
So for me, I like most people. I have kind of an interesting career path where, you know, in some ways I fell into the career path but also recognized, you know, certain opportunities are presented to me and kind of seize those moments. So essentially Ah, my career path was originally when I was in college. I was thinking I was gonna go into finance and so did, Ah, you know, when did my undergrad, one year University of Utah And then I went to ah, Fordham University. I actually put it all and so transferred to Fordham, played football there and got a business degree. But what I found is, you know, most my friends that were working in finance my personality just kind of did match with them. And so I I felt like I would want to go home or of the entrepreneurial route. And so I actually was a part of a start up called Blue Streak, which is a fitness company. And so we ended up going on and, uh and, you know, building into multiple locations and selling it back in 2017. And a few years prior to that, I had got involved in another. Another startup. That was data science slash engineering consulting firm called the NABE. And so I was working with the capacity of business development and just establishing relationships and helping with, you know, contracts and stuff like that. And, um so I really fell in love with the industry overall and just being able to go into board rooms and talking with executives and having them kind of way their toughest business problems at our feet. And we were able Teoh, show them, you know, using their own data and using, um, data in general that these answers and these problems can be solved. If you are able to mine the data, you're able to find the signals within it. We essentially I like to tell people we essentially like to find gold in your own data. A lot of times, a lot executives air like I just want outside data to Richet and way always say what first extract the gold in your own data before we try to look elsewhere. And so that's kind of that's how I got my start. And then from there, you know, there was actually an interesting experience where um, about six months into doing more of the business development side, um, we had, ah, technical project manager quit. And in the intro, my served as the project manager. And so I got really into the weeds and the nitty gritty of guiding directing, you know, using ah, using the ah, the scrum methodology ad. You know, running the by weekly sprints and using gear, a tow, organize the projects. And so I was able to really get the weeds and kind of understand more of what goes into it and working with our data scientists or developers. And so from there, um, as I did that for about a year, I decided I wanted to start my own consulting firm. And so me and a few business partners that I really trust, we, uh we went out and we started Beacon Data. And so we did that about It's been a little over two years now since we've had the company. And so, yeah, that's kind of you know what? Every career path I find when you talk to people are kind of like rocky ups and downs you have. It's on the way along the journey and I definitely fit that mold. Probably to the end degree. Like I've done a lot of different types of things. So, yeah, that's my journey so far.

Can you walk us through your first few weeks, especially challenges, when you started working as a consultant? How did things change over the next few months?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Thu Jul 23 2020
you know, the first, A few weeks I was more helping out on the business development, right? And so he has an outside consultant. I think the challenge is you have to position yourself as an expert and do it in a way where you can gain report and trust of those you're working with really quickly. Because, you know, most of the time people in their own companies feel like they have the knowledge. They have the tools to solve their own problems and you're an outsider, and so you have to find ways to build that report really quickly. And that trust and one thing I think is a strength of mine. Um, I don't have many, but I do have a few. I would say one of my strength is authenticity and just, you know, being genuine ad being about the build rule riel kind of meaningful relationships quickly. And so that's, you know, building on common grounds, getting to know them personally, and then also just proving your word by showing them you have the technical ability and the know how to help them with their problems, and you kind of have a short runway before that trust runs out, and if you don't prove yourself in that time, you could lose him forever. And so I would just say that is the lesson that I learned is you have to really, ah, be authentic. But also, um, use that little, a little bit of rope they give you to prove yourself and show how you're gonna get them more value than they could get on their own. And so that's That's something that I would say is true of every consultant, whether it's in a technical space or, ah, a managerial space or strategy. Whatever you really do, have a very short term time to prove yourself. And, um, it it starts with building rapport and trust with the individuals.

What tools (software programs, frameworks, models, algorithms, languages) do you use at work? Do you prefer certain tools or services more than the others? Why?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Thu Jul 23 2020
just say, You know, I'm I work more on the business development in the business side. But wait, We use most of the tools in AWS. We also like a lot of the, um you know, Google Cloud Tools. And we also work with azure. Um, my data scientists, the tools they like to use the most are our ad python, um, are ones they use a lot. But I would say the biggest tool that all of our technical resource is use the most. And I think it's the common tool that everyone seemed to continue to use is a sequel. And so I think, sequel skills. It's extremely important. Um, there's other software tools that we use, like Ghira to manage projects and to manage sprints and those kind of things. But specifically were using cloud tools in AWS like red Shift. And um, you know, ah, and ah, all the different tools that they offer is well. And so we are ah, certified partner of AWS and all of our our technical staff. Um, you know, half certifications as well, but I would say still that our bread and butter is sequel. You know, R and python are the main ones that we use from a technical standpoint, so

What are the profiles of your clients? What kind of projects do you handle? What skills are needed in these projects?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Thu Jul 23 2020
profile of our clients. So they they all have in common that they have old legacy systems. They have multiple databases that do different things. Most of them don't have one common data warehouse. And so one thing that we are hired to do is to essentially take all the data from the different databases and bring into one location, consolidate all of the data tables. And, you know, let's say they have 4000 data tables and to essentially bring it down into 10 kind of master tables so that they can get the best view of their customer. Or it might be, you know of. For instance, we've worked with airlines. They might even want a master data table on an airplane. And so they have all the maintenance records, everything you know to do with that airplane in one single row that they can Ah, they can refer back Teoh, and that updates automatically. And so I think, um, that's and so the types of companies that we work with, they all have the same common data problem. Um, a lot of retail businesses a lot of ah ah, you know Ah b two c types of businesses. Um, I would say most of them are older than 20 years and are over 100 million in annual revenue, and, uh, it's really between 100 to, um, we've had businesses we worked with that are 10 plus 1,000,000,000 annual revenue. So we were very industry and not stick when it comes to specific industries. But we have a lot of experience in the airline and travel space. We also have a lot of experience, um, working in with retail data or people with multiple channels so they might have online channels. They might have, um, wholesale channels and retail channels so that that's kind of our bread and butter. But we're different, probably than other consulting firms, in the sense that we work with multiple of different types of industries.

How do you reach out to potential clients? What are the roles of people you reach out to? What are their typical concerns and how do you address them?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Thu Jul 23 2020
most of, um, you know, R R C suite executives. So we work with chief revenue officers. Uh, times even see CFO's um And then, for the most part, it's it's the more usual is the chief information officer or the chief technology officer. If they're smaller company, they might only have a VP of engineering where vp of i t. And so it's usually the head of that department that kind of controls the ICTY budgets. Or, um, you know, new initiative budgets sometimes will work with people in marketing because a lot of what we do, um, it's gonna be used in marketing in the end. And so I would say, um, those are kind of the targets we work with. Ah, lot of times will work directly with seat the CEOs, and then they will introduce us to the right people. They want us to start working with

What are the roles of client's employees you routinely work with? What are the challenges in working with them? What approaches help to overcome challenges?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Thu Jul 23 2020
so I think the biggest thing and it goes, it's crazy, but I think it goes back to trust. So, um, I think every single client we work with and the employees of the clients, you know, they have a little bit of anxiety and insecurities around what we do, because in some ways they've hired us to do something that might be within their role of responsibility, and they feel like they can't do it on their own. And so they brought outside people in to help. So they have that insecurity. Um, So what we really try to do is build the trust, help him understand that, you know, in most cases they're probably understaffed and this just give them an extension to get more done. Um, there are some cases where we have to report back to their bosses and say, Hey, you know, be honest with you. I don't think this person has the technical ability year, you know whatever to get it done, but most the time it's it's we're looking at coming in as partners, someone that's gonna help make them look better as an individual and just get more done. And I said I think those are the ah, the biggest things is they they They might have this insecurity. But as long as you build that trust and and prove, um, you know your technical ability quickly, then I think they understand you don't have a hidden agenda, and you're really just trying to help. And, um and and so, yeah, I would say those are the biggest things. Um, but it's always difficult if you come into a situation where we've had times where a boss might tell us like, Hey, we're gonna have you work with this individual. But by the way, we're thinking about firing them in the next couple months, and so it will be an interim thing. And that makes it extremely challenging because, you know, it's not long term, you know? You know what I mean? So I I would say that's, ah, unique situation, but that's happened before, so I don't know if that's the kind of answer you're looking for. You might be thinking about something else, but

What qualities do you look for while hiring? What kind of questions do you typically ask from candidates?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Thu Jul 23 2020
We're looking for people that are willing to roll up their sleeves and do the hard work. I think that the thing with just the overall reputation of data science and engineering work is a lot of times you a lot of them don't want to do any of the dirty work, like cleaning the data. Um uh, making it uniform. Getting rid of the Newell Fields and some of that stuff is kind of like the blocking and tackling. And it's just like without that, you can't solve problems, right? And so I think the biggest thing is just making sure. Sorry, making sure that they're not afraid to do the hard work and not afraid. Teoh. Essentially, Do you know the heavy lifting stuff that it's a total grind? It's not fun. It's like what we call data janitorial work, but it's absolutely necessary to get done. In fact, some of our art, you know, like our chief data officer. He still does that stuff right? And so if someone is against doing that kind of stuff, then I think that's Ah, that's a big red flag. And so we try to ask probing questions we actually will also give them, um, we'll give him a technical test that they'll do online. And then, as a last hurdle in hiring, we will actually give them, um, you know, almost like a story problem that they can solve with data and there's usually not one right answer, but they they could be creative on how they answer it, and then they can show us. You know, what tools they use, how they did it, how they clean the data, how they prepped it. And so if we feel like there's hesitance to doing that kind of work for me, that's a big red flag. I am all for hiring for attitude, training for skill because I think, um, you can't replace ah attitude, no matter how skilled they are. So so those are the big things.

Can you discuss career accomplishment(s) that you feel good about? Please discuss the problem context, your solution, and the impact you made.

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Thu Jul 23 2020
so there's been a number of business problems that I feel really good about. That we solved One in particular sticks out because it was such a late in problem for them and it really was holding their business back. It was it. Ah ah company called Azul Airlines in Brazil and they essentially, um, in Brazil. It's kind of like the nineties in the in the, um, travel industry, in the sense that they have a lot of brick and border travel agencies that will book a lot of flights. And what happens is the travel agency will hide the customer data. And so what we did is they were getting about 65% of their bookings. We're coming from these travel agencies and they would instead of putting the customer email in there, they put their own Imo in, and then they would also have a dummy date of birth in there. And so we came in and we re essentially said, Look, if Jim Smith has traveled with Azul 10 times, we have ah hypothesis that most likely he's booked with you guys directly at least one of those times. So what we did is we created a sophisticated matching algorithm that essentially triangulated data from multiple different sources and booking engines. Ah, booking sources and consolidated and found that individuals email. And through this process that still runs today, we were able toe add about three million people there. They're frequent flyer program and grow it toe 0/10 million people. And so and now they're bookings. Obviously, with Kobe going on, it's a little different. But before pre coded, about 50% of their bookings were coming direct, and so we were able to sway that by 15% and and now they can market directly to those individuals and not feel like they're being held hostage by one of their so called partners.

How has the demand for certain skills and technologies changed in your field? What kind of consultancy work or jobs would see big growth in the upcoming years?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Thu Jul 23 2020
When we started the business, we were more focused on the day of science arm of it. But what we found is most companies aren't ready for these things. And they feel like, you know, it's like the crawl, walk, run, sprint kind of mentality where I feel like I need a look more of the camera. Sorry, Um, where you know they need to have the foundation built first, where the data engineering piece of it is is so important. Because if you don't have that right, if you don't have, like, a uniform data warehouse, one single view of the customer it's really hard to do any type of modeling or it's meaningful. And so what we have done in some ways, we Tibbett. It is a business, and we focus more of our efforts there. And so I would say the engineering piece is super valuable, and in some ways we call them unicorns. But there's a lot of our data scientists that also know how to do the engineering inside, and I think it's I've talked to a lot of people. It like it like ah, Google and Facebook. When they're hiring data scientists, they want someone that also has an engineering ability. Because if they don't, then they're gonna always have the roadblock of having have an engineer do something for them. So not to say they have to be an expert because they have experts. But to do some of the basic stuff I think is important. So I would say it is shifting a little bit in that way. Um and then I would also say, Just with cove it I think you know, these positions are becoming more of a luxury for some companies. And so, um, I think in some ways it will definitely pick back up for right now. I think there, ah, you know, the the whole hiring frenzy for data scientists and the technical filled. I think not that it has stopped, but I don't think it's the same growth rate used to be, you know, and they're not, as in high demand, because they're looking toe make cuts. But what that does it opens opportunities for companies like ours where they might not want to bring on full time people. So they're going to consult with an outside consulting firm because they still need to work done so

What responsibilities and decisions did you handle at work? What were the challenges? What strategies were effective in dealing with these challenges?

Based on experience at: Business Development and COO, Zenabi Data
Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Thu Jul 23 2020
So I think the biggest thing is communication and having weekly meetings, having processes in place where, you know, I really want in power are project managers. So they kind of owned that unit of business. Um, and oin escalate things that make sense to escalate. So empower them, Teoh solve the customers problems without having to consult on every single decision. And so I think that would be the biggest thing that I try to do is is active a supporter and help and step in when I can, but also really trust and let go. Um, and part of that is just hiring great people and, um, putting them in the right spot. And so I almost look a my job. It's more of like, you know, a conductor of an orchestra. You know, I'm just not that I'm an expert at playing. All the different instruments are, you know, all the different technical, um, coding position, you know, ah, skills and all that. But I am trying to place people in the right position to succeed and and then, you know, have them work together. Obviously, like there's times where you have to step in conflict resolution and and all that. But for the most part, that's my job is to be the conductor and make sure we have the right team in place toe do the job.

How did the school prepare you for your career? Think about faculty, resources, alumni, exposure & networking. What were the best parts?

Based on experience at: Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.), Entrepreneurship, Babson College - Franklin W. Olin Graduate School of Business
Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Thu Jul 23 2020
like when I first came out of school, I I told you, I, you know, was part of a startup. And my view of the world was kind of limited. I loved what I was doing, but I wasn't around. Um, you know, a lot of people that really valued education, probably as much as I did. And so I think my MBA opened a ton of doors where, you know, I was exposed to things like I took a that statistics class, data modelling, and so things that I probably struggled with a little bit and my undergrad. You know, I won't even tell you what my statistics grade was in undergrad. But then I really did fairly well in that class because day pain and division, they had different tools that we were able to use to solve the problems and, you know, so it just opened my eyes to a whole nother world of different opportunities. And so, um, yeah, I would say that's the biggest thing I remember. I had a a certain speaker that came in. Ah, and I can't remember his name, but he just said something really interesting. They someone asked him like what's the best piece of advice you've ever been given by someone? And he said, Be really curious about the business you work for and meaning, like ask good questions, Um, dig into the data, understand what the date is telling you, and, um, and then be able to to speak in an educated way to the senior leaders about the business and show them that you're passionate about it, that you love it, that you're you know, uh, even when you're not at work, you're thinking about ways to solve the different problems. And so that's advice. I've taken that. I think, um, as a consultant that people really appreciate when you're really curious about their business and you really died in head first and you treat it like it's your own business and that you say, if I were in your position, I would absolutely do this because that's the best decision, and this is what the date is telling us. And so I would say, that's my biggest piece of advice. And what I kind of, uh, learned I also took a A class I really like. That was an M and a class, and I haven't done really a lot of that kind of stuff where we've acquired companies or or other than, you know, I sold one of my businesses, but that was really interesting to me. And and most of it was because the professor was awesome and they knew what he knew, what he was talking about. And so he even that professor has guided me, um, on pitch decks and he's looking things. And a lot of ways. I feel like a little kid going back to my parents and saying, Hey, can you take a look at this for me? But they've given me critical feedback when I needed it most. And so I still go back to some of my professors this day, and, um, I value that experience big time. So yep.

How did the school prepare you for your career? Think about faculty, resources, alumni, exposure & networking. What were the best parts?

Based on experience at: B.S., Business Administration: Double major in Management and Marketing, Fordham University
Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Thu Jul 23 2020
bachelors. I would say for me it Fordham even afford him where it's a private school. We had some classes that we have, like 200 students in it, and it just for me. Like I I'm a diagnosed with a D h d. So I'm very high energy. I need to feel like I'm engaged in the class. And if there's a class where there's 200 plus people, it's a real challenge for me. So with my MBA, most of my classes had less than, Ah, 30 people. And so and all of the professors did a really good job of, you know, we would do role plays. We would, um, do que business case studies where you actually had to Then go, um, you know, created group and have different rules either as a facilitator or as a scribe. Auras. Ah, uh, I think we called up the polisher, the one that at the end of the project takes it and puts the lipstick on It makes it look really good. And and so we we would change those different seats. And so you got a lot of different unique experiences, and I think in a lot of ways, um mashes programs and NBA's in general. They replicate the working environ environment much better than the undergrad experience. And I've heard a lot of colleges are changing that approach where they're doing more group work and, you know, ah, value meaning team team working all that, but that that was my experience overall.

What three life lessons have you learned over your career? Please discuss the stories behind these lessons, if possible. Stories could be yours or observed.

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Thu Jul 23 2020
some of the things I've already touched upon. Um, but I would say being authentic and being true to yourself is extremely important. Um, because like each individual, I believe has a unique set of skills, and I think there's there's a way that you can learn different skills and you you can take new. You can develop your strength even more, but I see a lot of times where you will be mentor in someone or you will be trying to train someone and they try to copy you. But I was still people. Even in cells you have tow, use your own unique personality. So you might be a quirky person that likes to tell dumb jokes that really aren't that funny. But it works for that individual, right? And so I I always say, Be authentic. Don't try to copy. You know, some or you can obviously try to emulate people you look up to, but try to develop your core strengths that you have. So that's one I would say. Um, my mom always said honesty is the best policy, and I think that's true. I mean, there's a time in the place where you have tow. Um, you know, you have to walk that fine line and you have toe try not to hurt someone's feelings. But at the end of the day, if if someone's asking for feedback and you give them honest feedback, they're gonna appreciate that much more. Then, um then if you why to him And it comes out later that you lied to him, and then I would say that the third thing and this is probably something that okay, I have to others. Um, my grandpa used to always tell me, uh, and he was a butcher. He said, uh, measure twice. Cut once. And so make sure you do the work right the first time. It's a lot easier. It's much harder to, um, correct faulty work and go in until, you know, whoever's in charge, um, that you messed up. Um, but you know what? If you mess up, that's OK, too, Like you can make it right. And I think honesty transparency is important in that state. And then I would say that the fourth piece of advice is, um and this actually comes from a coach I had. He said everything in life has a price. So you have to figure out what that price tag is, and you have to be willing to pay the price. And, ah, whether it's putting in the long hours or learning the super certain skill that you need. Um, you know, So So those were the biggest things, and they're really rules. You kind of learn in kindergarten, and they're not like anything super special. They're just things that you pick up, and for me, there simple. But I try to live by those things.

What starting job (after internship) would you recommend to students who hope to grow professionally like you? What other parting advice, dos, and don'ts would you give?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Thu Jul 23 2020
so I would just say, um for me personally, I would much rather be in an internship where you can really get your hands dirty. And you can really do do the work versus, like, a lot of people will try to get internships where, you know, it might be a really big, reputable company, but they're doing, like, just crap work like they're going and getting drinks for people or, you know, or and not to say, that stuff not needed at times. Teoh alleviate pressure. But I would just say Try to find a position where you're actually gonna be mentored by someone, someone you respect, that someone is going to take the time to kind of show you the ropes. And so that happens at big companies, but also times it doesn't. And so don't don't throw out a small company, because sometimes small companies will give you that really life, real world experience, where you wouldn't get that out of the company. And then I would say the other. The other thing is, um, always be the type in the internship where you go above and beyond. So if they tell you to do you know I can remember specifically, I had this in turn. Um, and I used to joke that he literally he would do everything I said to a t, and then he would rarely even come report back that he had finished it. He would just go move onto the next task. And so someone else would tell me, Hey, the intern finished this, And, um and I would be like, Well, where is he? I need to think him and talked about That's awesome. And then I'd look at the work and I'd be like, Oh, that's amazing. And I find out he had already moved on to the next thing I was asking them to dio And so diligence, um, you know, taking notes, uh, listening. And if you don't understand, ask good questions and and and actually that's that leads me to The last thing I would say is you gotta pick someone that is patient enough. It's willing to take those questions and mentor and take the time. Um and so I know I was always the type of person that needed that. And so in my career, I've tried to be that toe others because if you don't have that. It's a challenge toe grow, and you might just try to find another career. You find an internship where you don't have that. So I would just say, Look for an intern ship that you have a mentor that's gonna take the time with you.