Ask our Data Science Lead: Diogo Sousa

Rita Pereira
April 11, 2024
 min read

For our seventh anniversary celebration, we're thrilled to introduce Diogo Sousa, our esteemed Data Science Lead. Diogo's journey embodies the spirit of dedication and growth within our company, from his early days as a Data Scientist to his current leadership role.

Whether you're eager to dive deep into the world of a data science lead or simply seeking inspiration for your professional journey, this is your golden opportunity to learn from Diogo's wealth of experience.

The 12th of December 2019 marks the beginning of your journey at Leadzai. What drew you to join our team?

In one word: opportunity. I wanted to start my career in Data Science, and heard about the position through a very good friend of mine who was/is working at Leadzai (Diogo Lopes). Once I knew about it, the chance to “play” and learn more about NLP and Machine Learning hooked me immediately.  I also really like the environment that start-ups have, so being a start-up was definitely something that factored into my decision.

You’re our Data Science lead. Can you elaborate on this role’s responsibilities and daily challenges?

My primary responsibility is to help and provide tools and support for each Data Science team member. My day-to-day is working with others - working with the Product Team to align future developments, helping colleagues, reviewing code, and making calls to manage people.

What is your favourite part about your work?

I don’t exactly have a favourite part of my job. Fortunately, I’m one of those people who likes what they do. If I do have to give you an example, the first thing that comes to mind is the fun brainstorming sessions where, as a team, we analyse data and find creative ways to come up with the best insights possible.

Can you share some key learnings or experiences that shaped your journey at Leadzai?

Looking back, I believe that the biggest challenge that made me learn a lot was building the Data Science team from when I was the only member to what it is now (4 teams with a total of 12 people). Considering I had no experience managing people or building teams, it was an enormous challenge that Leadzai trusted me with. I’m very thankful for that, as I grew so much from it. Of course, I didn’t do it alone as I had help from many people, particularly Nesbitt (CTO), who mentored me through the process.

As Leadzai marks its seventh anniversary this month, and reflecting on your journey with the company, what accomplishments or changes make you proudest?

More on the Data Science side, I was very proud of the construction of the team. It was an iterative process, but figuring out how to grow from 1 person to 12 and how the structure needed to be was a very fulfilling challenge. As for the company, I am proud of every successful investment round we do. It’s where we see all our hard work pay off because the investors still believe in the company and want to keep pushing it forward.

How would you describe the atmosphere and team spirit within Leadzai?

The amazing environment is something that I really value at Leadzai. Since I started working here, we have grown from 10 people to 70. Some things changed, but the friendly ”everybody knows each other” environment prevailed. That’s why I believe everybody has the “help each other” mentality. Together, we make sure all teams deliver the best possible results.

Currently, you live in France. What do you find most challenging about working remotely?

The biggest challenge is keeping up the team spirit for fully remote people. It is hard because we don’t have the occasional coffee break, team event (we are spread across Europe) or even lunch at the office. We try to tackle this with “Donuts” (a team call where we can talk about anything that is not work-related), WhatsApp groups, and other strategies. 

What type of person would be an excellent fit for the Data Science team?

The most significant traits are being a team player and being proactive. Helping each other is one of the main reasons our teams are so successful. A person unwilling to help if someone is behind schedule doesn’t fit the ideals at all. As for being proactive, we want people to think ahead and do more than what is described in a feature card.

Which would you choose if you had to pick between never watching basketball or never watching comedy shows?

Hum, that is a tricky question to answer. I’ve watched and played basketball all my life. On the other hand, TV shows are my way of clearing my head. I would probably choose to keep watching and following basketball.

Diogo’s Favourites

A film: Coach Carter

A song: Tadow - FKJ & Masego 

A place to visit: Iceland

A pizza: Calzone (no mushrooms 😛)

An ice cream flavour: Cookie Dough - Ben & Jerry’s or any Mango ice cream

Thank you, Diogo, for your generosity!

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