Tag Archives: data-visualization

Mythbusting the Analytics Journey

Post Syndicated from Netflix Technology Blog original https://netflixtechblog.com/mythbusting-the-analytics-journey-58d692ea707e

Part of our series on who works in Analytics at Netflix — and what the role entails

by Alex Diamond

This Q&A aims to mythbust some common misconceptions about succeeding in analytics at a big tech company.

This isn’t your typical recruiting story. I wasn’t actively looking for a new job and Netflix was the only place I applied. I didn’t know anyone who worked there and just submitted my resume through the Jobs page 🤷🏼‍♀️ . I wasn’t even entirely sure what the right role fit would be and originally applied for a different position, before being redirected to the Analytics Engineer role. So if you find yourself in a similar situation, don’t be discouraged!

How did you come to Netflix?

Movies and TV have always been one of my primary sources of joy. I distinctly remember being a teenager, perching my laptop on the edge of the kitchen table to “borrow” my neighbor’s WiFi (back in the days before passwords 👵🏻), and streaming my favorite Netflix show. I felt a little bit of ✨magic✨ come through the screen each time, and that always stuck with me. So when I saw the opportunity to actually contribute in some way to making the content I loved, I jumped at it. Working in Studio Data Science & Engineering (“Studio DSE”) was basically a dream come true.

Not only did I find the subject matter interesting, but the Netflix culture seemed to align with how I do my best work. I liked the idea of Freedom and Responsibility, especially if it meant having autonomy to execute projects all the way from inception through completion. Another major point of interest for me was working with “stunning colleagues”, from whom I could continue to learn and grow.

What was your path to working with data?

My road-to-data was more of a stumbling-into-data. I went to an alternative high school for at-risk students and had major gaps in my formal education — not exactly a head start. I then enrolled at a local public college at 16. When it was time to pick a major, I was struggling in every subject except one: Math. I completed a combined math bachelors + masters program, but without any professional guidance, networking, or internships, I was entirely lost. I had the piece of paper, but what next? I held plenty of jobs as a student, but now I needed a career.

A visual representation of all the jobs I had in high school and college: From pizza, to gourmet rice krispie treats, to clothing retail, to doors and locks

After receiving a grand total of *zero* interviews from sending out my resume, the natural next step was…more school. I entered a PhD program in Computer Science and shortly thereafter discovered I really liked the coding aspects more than the theory. So I earned the honor of being a PhD dropout.

A visual representation of all the hats I’ve worn

And here’s where things started to click! I used my newfound Python and SQL skills to land an entry-level Business Intelligence Analyst position at a company called Big Ass Fans. They make — you guessed it — very large industrial ventilation fans. I was given the opportunity to branch out and learn new skills to tackle any problem in front of me, aka my “becoming useful” phase. Within a few months I’d picked up BI tools, predictive modeling, and data ingestion/ETL. After a few years of wearing many different proverbial hats, I put them all to use in the Analytics Engineer role here. And ever since, Netflix has been a place where I can do my best work, put to use the skills I’ve gathered over the years, and grow in new ways.

What does an ordinary day look like?

As part of the Studio DSE team, our work is focused on aiding the movie-making process for our Netflix Originals, leading all the way up to a title’s launch on the service. Despite the affinity for TV and movies that brought me here, I didn’t actually know very much about how they got made. But over time, and by asking lots of questions, I’ve picked up the industry lingo! (Can you guess what “DOOD” stands for?)

My main stakeholders are members of our Studio team. They’re experts on the production process and an invaluable resource for me, sharing their expertise and providing context when I don’t know what something means. True to the “people over process” philosophy, we adapt alongside our stakeholders’ needs throughout the production process. That means the work products don’t always fit what you might imagine a traditional Analytics Engineer builds — if such a thing even exists!

A typical production lifecycle

On an ordinary day, my time is generally split evenly across:

  • 🤝📢 Speaking with stakeholders to understand their primary needs
  • 🐱💻 Writing code (SQL, Python)
  • 📊📈 Building visual outputs (Tableau, memos, scrappy web apps)
  • 🤯✍️ Brainstorming and vision planning for future work

Some days have more of one than the others, but variety is the spice of life! The one constant is that my day always starts with a ridiculous amount of coffee. And that it later continues with even more coffee. ☕☕☕

My road-to-data was more of a stumbling-into-data.

What advice would you give to someone just starting their career in data?

🐾 Dip your toes in things. As you try new things, your interests will evolve and you’ll pick up skills across a broad span of subject areas. The first time I tried building the front-end for a small web app, it wasn’t very pretty. But it piqued my interest and after a few times it started to become second nature.

💪 Find your strengths and weaknesses. You don’t have to be an expert in everything. Just knowing when to reach out for guidance on something allows you to uplevel your skills in that area over time. My weakness is statistics: I can use it when needed but it’s just not a subject that comes naturally to me. I own that about myself and lean on my stats-loving peers when needed.

🌸 Look for roles that allow you to grow. As you grow in your career, you’ll provide impact to the business in ways you didn’t even expect. As a business intelligence analyst, I gained data science skills. And in my current Analytics Engineer role, I’ve picked up a lot of product management and strategic thinking experience.

This is what I look like.

☝️ One Last Thing

I started off my career with the vague notion of, “I guess I want to be a data scientist?” But what that’s meant in practice has really varied depending on the needs of each job and project. It’s ok if you don’t have it all figured out. Be excited to try new things, lean into strengths, and don’t be afraid of your weaknesses — own them.

If this post resonates with you and you’d like to explore opportunities with Netflix, check out our analytics site, search open roles, and learn about our culture. You can also find more stories like this here.


Mythbusting the Analytics Journey was originally published in Netflix TechBlog on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

A Day in the Life of a Content Analytics Engineer

Post Syndicated from Netflix Technology Blog original https://netflixtechblog.com/a-day-in-the-life-of-a-content-analytics-engineer-eb0250b993be

Part of our series on who works in Analytics at Netflix — and what the role entails

by Rocio Ruelas

Back when we were all working in offices, my favorite days were Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Those were the days with the best hot breakfast, and I’ve always been a sucker for free food. I started the day by arriving at the LA office right before 8am and finding a parking spot close to the entrance. I would greet the familiar faces at the reception desk and take a moment to check out which Netflix Original was currently being projected across the lobby. Take the elevator uninterrupted up to the top floor. Grab myself a plate of scrambled eggs, salsa, and bacon. Pour myself some coffee. Then sit at a small table next to the floor-to-ceiling windows with a clear view of the Hollywood sign.

My morning journey from lobby to elevators to breakfast (Photo Credit: Netflix)

During the day, the LA office buzzes with excitement and conversation. My time in the morning is like the calm before the storm — a chance to reflect before my head is full of numbers and figures. I often think about all the things that led me to becoming a Netflix employee. From my family immigrating to the United States from Mexico when I was very young to the teachers and professors that encouraged a low income student like me to dream big. It has been a journey and I’m grateful to be at a place that values the voice I bring to the table.

At the time of posting we’re working from home due to the pandemic, so my days look a bit different: The hot breakfasts are not as consistent and conversations are mainly with my dog. We still find ways to keep connected, but I for one am looking forward to when the office is fully open and I can look out to the Hollywood sign again.

Ok. But what do I actually do? (Besides eating breakfast)

What do I do at Netflix?

I’m a Senior Analytics Engineer on the Content and Marketing Analytics Research team. My team focuses on innovating and maintaining the metrics Netflix uses to understand performance of our shows and films on the service. We partner closely with the business strategy team to provide as much information as we can to our content executives, so that — combined with their industry experience — they can make the best decisions for Netflix.

Being an Analytics Engineer is like being a hybrid of a librarian 📚 and a Swiss army knife 🛠️: Two good things to have on hand when you’re not quite sure what you will need. Like a librarian, I have access to an encyclopedia of knowledge about our content data and have become the resident expert in one of our most important internal metrics. And like a Swiss army knife, I possess a multitude of tools to get the job done — be it SQL, Jupyter Notebooks, Tableau, or Google Sheets.

One of my favorite things about being an Analytics Engineer is the variety. I have some days where I am brainstorming and collaborating with amazing colleagues and other days where I can put my headphones on to work out a tough problem or build a dashboard.

One of my current projects involves understanding how viewing habits have evolved over the past several years. We started out with a small working group where we brainstormed the key questions to address, what data we could use to answer said questions, and came up with a work plan for how the analysis might take shape. Then I put on my headphones and got to work, writing SQL and using Tableau to present the data in a useful way. We met frequently to discuss our findings and iterate on the analysis. The great thing about these working groups is that we each contribute different skills and ideas. We benefit from both our individual strengths and our willingness to collaborate — Our values of Selflessness and Inclusion, in action.

How did I become interested in Analytics?

I did not set out from the start to be an Analyst. I never had a 5 year plan and my path has been a winding one.

Yours truly, featuring part of my extensive Netflix apparel collection
Yours truly, featuring part of my extensive Netflix apparel collection

In college, I majored in Physics because it was “the science that explains all the other sciences”. But what I ended up liking most about it was the math. Between that and the fact that there aren’t many entry-level physics jobs, I pursued a PhD in Applied Mathematics. This turned out to be a wise choice as I avoided entering the workforce right before the 2008 recession.

I loved grad school. The lectures, the research, and most of all the lifelong friendships. But as much as I enjoyed being a student, the academic track wasn’t for me. So without much of a plan I headed back home to California after graduation.

Looking around to see what I could do with my Applied Math background, I quickly settled on Data Science. I wasn’t well versed in it but I knew it was in demand. I started my new data science career as an analyst at a small marketing company. I had an incredible boss who encouraged me to learn new skills on the job. I honed my SQL and Python skills and implemented a clustering model. I also got my first introduction to working for an actual business.

Later on I went to Hulu to grow in the core skills of a data scientist. But while the predictive modeling I was doing was interesting and challenging, I missed being close to the business. As an analyst, I got to attend more meetings with the decision makers and be part of the conversation.

So by the time the opportunity arose to interview for a position at Netflix, I had figured out that Analytics was the best area for me.

It has been a journey and I’m grateful to be at a place that values the voice I bring to the table.

Why Netflix?

Growing up I watched a lot of TV. I mean a lot of TV. But I never thought I could actually work in the TV and Film business. I feel incredibly fortunate to be working at a job I am passionate about and to be at a company that brings joy to people around the world.

Even though I’d been a loyal Netflix customer since the DVD days, I had not heard about their unique culture until I started interviewing. When I did read the culture doc (which I recently learned is also published in Spanish and 12 other languages!), it sounded pretty intimidating. Phrases like “high performance” and “dream team” made me imagine an almost gladiator-style workplace. But I quickly learned this wasn’t the case. Through a combination of my existing network, the interview process, and other online resources about the company, I found that folks are actually very friendly and helpful! Everyone just wants to do their best work and help you do your best work too. Think more The Great British Baking Show and less Hell’s Kitchen. Selflessness really is embraced as an important Netflix value.

Having been here for 3 years now, I can say that working at Netflix is really special. The company is always evolving, big decisions are made in a transparent way, and I’m encouraged to voice my thoughts. But the single most important factor is the people. My Content Analytics teammates continuously impress me not only with their quality of work, but also with their kindness and mutual trust. This foundation makes innovating more fun, lets us be open about our passions outside of work, and means we genuinely enjoy each other’s company. That balance is crucial for me and is why this truly is the place where I can do my best work.

If this post resonates with you and you’d like to explore opportunities with Netflix, check out our analytics site, search open roles, and learn about our culture. You can also find more stories like this here.


A Day in the Life of a Content Analytics Engineer was originally published in Netflix TechBlog on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Analytics at Netflix: Who we are and what we do

Post Syndicated from Netflix Technology Blog original https://netflixtechblog.com/analytics-at-netflix-who-we-are-and-what-we-do-7d9c08fe6965

Analytics at Netflix: Who We Are and What We Do

An Introduction to Analytics and Visualization Engineering at Netflix

by Molly Jackman & Meghana Reddy

Explained: Season 1 (Photo Credit: Netflix)

Across nearly every industry, there is recognition that data analytics is key to driving informed business decision-making. But there is far less agreement on what that term “data analytics” actually means — or what to call the people responsible for the work.

Even within Netflix, we have many groups that do some form of data analysis, including business strategy and consumer insights. But here we are talking about Netflix’s Data Science and Engineering group, which specializes in analytics at scale. The group has technical, engineering-oriented roles that fall under two broad category titles: “Analytics Engineers” and “Visualization Engineers.” In this post, we refer to these two titles collectively as the “analytics role.” These professionals come from a wide range of backgrounds and bring different skills to their work, while sharing a common drive to generate and scale business impact through data.

Individuals in these roles possess deep business context and are thought leaders alongside their business counterparts. This enables them to fully understand where their partners are coming from.

What’s the purpose of the analytics role at Netflix?

When you think about data at Netflix, what comes to mind? Oftentimes it is our content recommendation algorithm or the online delivery of video to your device at home. Both are integral parts of the business, but far from the whole picture. Data is used to inform a wide range of questions — ‘How can we make the product experience even better?’, ‘Which shows and films bring the most joy to our members?’, ‘Who can we partner with to expand access to our service in new markets?’. Our Analytics and Visualization Engineers are taking on these and other big questions for the company, informing decision-making across every corner of the business.

We align our analytic teams with business area verticals
We align our analytic teams with business area verticals

Since the problem space is so varied, we align our analytics professionals with the listed business area verticals rather than organizing them within a single functional horizontal. The expectation is that individuals in these roles possess deep business context and are thought leaders alongside their business counterparts. This enables them to fully understand where their partners are coming from. It also means Analytics and Visualization Engineers are a specialized resource and a rare commodity. There are many more questions and stakeholders than analytics team members, and the job is not to take on every request. Instead, these individual contributors are given freedom to choose their projects and are responsible for prioritizing the ones that will have the most business impact (and deprioritizing the rest). This requires a lot of judgment and embodies our “context not control” culture.

“OK, but what do they actually do…?”

What does the job entail?

You’ve probably caught on to some common themes: People in the analytics role are highly connected to the business, solve end-to-end problems, and are directly responsible for improving business outcomes. But what makes this group really shine are their differences. They come from lots of backgrounds, which yields different perspectives on how to approach problems. We use the catch-all titles of Analytics and Visualization Engineers so as to not get too hung up on specific credentials. Instead, people are empowered to leverage their unique skills to make Netflix better.

A couple other defining characteristics of the role are full ownership of the problem (in Netflix lingo, you are the “informed captain” of your space) and creating trustworthy outputs. These are only possible through the one-two punch of deep business context 👊 and technical excellence 👊. Full ownership often means building new data pipelines, navigating complex schemas and large data sets, developing or improving metrics for business performance, and creating intuitive visualizations and dashboards — always with an eye towards actionable insights.

We use the catch-all titles of Analytics and Visualization Engineers so as to not get too hung up on specific credentials. Instead, people are empowered to leverage their unique skills to make Netflix better.

Because these professionals vary in their expertise, so too does their day-to-day. Below are three broadly defined personas to help illustrate some of the different backgrounds, motivations, and activities of individuals in the analytics role at Netflix. Many of our colleagues have come in with expertise that spans multiple personas. Others have grown into new areas as part of their professional development at Netflix. Ultimately, these skills are all on a continuum, some broad and some deep, and these are just a few examples of such expertise. So if you find yourself connecting with any part of these descriptions, the analytics role could be for you.

  • The Analyst is motivated by delivering metrics, findings, or dashboards that drive analytical insights and business decisions. They love to communicate their discoveries to nontechnical audiences, explain caveats, and debate analytic choices and strategic implications with peers and stakeholders. Their expertise is descriptive analytic methodology, but they have the necessary tools to be scrappy (e.g. coding, math, stats), and do what’s required to answer the highest priority business questions.
  • The Engineer enjoys making data available by piping it in from new sources in optimal ways, building robust data models, prototyping systems, and doing project-specific engineering. They’re still analysts at heart but, similar to data engineers, they have a deep understanding of data warehouse capabilities and are pros at data processing optimization and performance tuning. Being at this intersection of disciplines allows them to produce full-stack outputs, layering visualizations and analytics on their projects.
  • The Visualizer is passionate about the scalability, beauty, and functionality of dashboards and their capability for telling a visual story. They also have an eye for principled engineering, i.e. managing the data under the surface. They want to pick the perfect chart type for the narrative while also focusing on delivering key analytic insights. They may use industry tools (e.g. Tableau, Looker, Power BI) to their fullest extent, developing a deeper understanding of analytics by examining these tools under the hood. Or they may create sophisticated visuals from scratch and build the type of custom UI that enterprise tools don’t offer (e.g. JavaScript web apps).

Introducing Analytics at Netflix

Whether you’re a data professional, student, or Netflix enthusiast, we invite you to meet our stunning colleagues and hear their stories. If this series resonates with you and you’d like to explore opportunities with us, check out our analytics site, search open roles, and learn about our culture.

Welcome to Analytics at Netflix!

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Analytics at Netflix: Who we are and what we do was originally published in Netflix TechBlog on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.