DS at Gesture: Spotlight on Irene Bratsis, Data Scientist
We recently welcomed data scientist Irene Bratsis at Gesture and we’re starting the new year with revamping our data analytics and data science processes. In her new role, Irene will help the team fine tune the data analytics, reporting and deployment of data products that help Gesture run, as well as assimilate data streams from our newer business units, namely Gesture for Business, Gesture for Vendors, Gesture + and our Gift Cards.
We took some time with Irene to get to know her a bit and understand what motivates and drives her data science work. Irene comes from a background in economics, account management, customer journey and sales in her previous life, and is able to leverage that experience in the deployment of data science and analytics tools that have tangible impact for our business.
You have a long career in client facing roles within tech companies, what made you transition to data science and analytics?
I’ve always brought a restlessness to my previous roles and I saw each of my roles becoming increasingly data driven. I was at Experian Data Quality for years and witnessed the rise of data relevance coming into greater focus during those years. I knew data analytics, data quality and data science were the future and I was excited by the opportunity that posed for data adjacent people like me who were teetering on the edge of the two worlds. I moved into analytical roles at Tesla and Memsource, focusing on the sales and delivery side of analytics and guiding my own up-skilling journey before taking the plunge into a more formal education with an MIT certification and an apprenticeship with Thinkful.
It was the best decision I ever made. I already understood the real life impact of these tools, now I was able to learn how to ideate, create and deploy them in a real way. I now work in a field that’s bursting with creativity and it leverages my passion of always learning and nurturing that student mind. I hope I will be this way forever.
Tell us about life as a data scientist at a startup.
I always wanted to work in a startup because I knew it would allow me to work on high priority items and get involved with the strategy of how we organize our efforts. Being able to see the birds eye view and zero in on the details feels really exciting and seeing the direct results of my work and how it’s applied to the business feels gratifying. That’s kind of the blessing of working in such a tight knit environment, you end up getting involved in everything and really hone in on the areas you really thrive in and find the most interesting. It’s the best way to discover truths about yourself and what you most like doing. I love that I can have strategy meetings with the CEO of the company Ben Labra and get direct feedback on what he would most like to see. I love that I can come up with fun ideas for us to try and my leadership team welcomes my recommendations and insights.
What do you most like about Gesture as a company?
I love how down to earth the people here are. From leadership to interns, the people that come work for Gesture are incredibly communal and open. If someone demonstrates interest in a particular topic, they’re invited to the meeting. It’s a really open and comfortable environment for someone to come and pursue their career interests and that’s really amazing. Keeping the vibe high can be really difficult and entrepreneurship has its ups and downs. But Ben runs a tight ship and he’s able to infuse all our impacted teams with his generosity of spirit which is amazing.
As a data scientist, I love that I can join marketing, finance, product and operations meetings and have the autonomy I need to gather data and provide impacted teams with products that they can use to be successful. Gift giving is my love language! It’s one of my favorite things about being a human, showing the people I love that I love them and getting them something thoughtful.
What’s coming up for Gesture on the horizon?
I think I joined Gesture at the best possible moment. The data science team is small and the opportunity to make an impact is enormous. It being such a data driven company also bodes well for the future. We are at a crossroads now and our challenge is really in being able to scale up our data analytics and data products and tailor them for the recent business segments we’ve added on. I’ve always been someone that’s really excited by challenges and I’m incredibly driven by the fear of not succeeding. The teams now are small, but we are creating a data centric culture that’s sure to bring success and opportunity for those involved at this early stage. This is the time when things are exciting and rewarding. I’m also a person that loves sharing and collaborating with my data community so for me a big focus will be on sharing the work that we do in our blog and helping to create thought leadership for other apps out there that are looking to expand their data stack and leverage data science best practices.
What are your goals for the data team at Gesture in 2021?
In the short term, my biggest priority is maximizing the business impact of such a small team that has limited capacities. What I like about this is it really pushes us to prioritize where to concentrate our efforts and what will bring about the most value to the business. In the long term, I want to completely change our app experience for our customers and give them something really tailored and special whether they’re looking for gifts for a loved one, gifts for their business clients, G runners to deliver products for their business or a subscription service. I want the data team to be a central part of our app design and customer journey.
Customers want to be informed, inspired and entertained and we want to be able to be with them every step of the way and make our app experience amazing. We don’t just want them to buy a product, we want them to have an uplifting interaction with us, brighten their day and make the experience meaningful. We believe the impact of Covid is going to place a premium on a customer's online journey and this is a trend that will only continue in coming years and we want to curate an experience that feels fresh and new.
What was the last (gift) gesture you made?
My best friend had a recent birthday! She’s been getting into flower pressing and she’s single in the pandemic age which has been tough for her so I got her a flower press frame and some books on calling in the one! I wanted to also make her birthday weekend special by taking her to the mountains since she lives quite far from me now and we had a magical weekend snow tubing and taking in the mountain air up in the Poconos! Mitts and all.
Gesture Data and Analytics Team