This Team Knows the Power of Big Data, and How to Use It

In partnership with Goldman Sachs, we’re putting the spotlight on professionals who embody a personal mission to make things possible. Below, we talk to the FAST Team about the role data plays and the benefits of a diverse team.

Wesley Chen, an Associate with the FAST team at Goldman Sachs, works with data and analyzes market trends to reveal just the kind of insights that are valuable currency for traders. But, Wesley says the team is about more than just data.

The FAST (Franchise Analytics Strategy and Technology) team at Goldman Sachs is a group of data scientists and engineers who are responsible for generating insights and creating products that turn big data into easily digestible takeaways. In essence, the FAST team is comprised of data experts who help other professionals at Goldman Sachs act on relevant insights.

We talked with members of the FAST team about big data, diversity, and what makes a great team.

The Power of Data

Big data has the potential to upend the same-old, same-old in business. Companies that can gather and analyze big data intelligently and act on the insights, can gain a competitive advantage.

Debbie Lynch, Vice President, understands this closely. “More data is being pumped into the world and as you analyze it, you start to realize that maybe we should be doing things differently,” Debbie says. In the past, we might have had data, but we didn’t have the tools to effectively analyze it.

Before her career at Goldman Sachs, Debbie worked in public safety at Con Edison, an energy utilities company in New York. She used data analytics to figure out things like where the next manhole explosion might occur so proactive preventive measures could be deployed. “It was where I first realized the power of data,” she says, “that by crunching large data sets and seeing patterns and opportunities, you can drive the larger picture that people see.” And she continues to drive that bigger picture on the FAST team.

The Right Questions

A data scientist at heart, Samuel Krasnik, Managing Director, says he noticed a steady uptick in the “who” questions that were just waiting to be answered: Who is interested in buying (or selling) a particular product? Who should we reach out to? Who should we focus on?

Shawn Garbien, Vice President, agrees. Figuring out the questions that need to be answered with data is really empowering, Shawn says. The FAST team doesn’t just say “what do you want?”, instead they find out what kinds of questions the trading sales and management teams at Goldman Sachs need answered. “We find ways to use data to answer those questions and then create visualizations to have a high-impact way of making that statement easily understandable,” he says.

Essentially the FAST team translates data for the end user, an experiment that has been incredibly rewarding, Shawn says.

A Diverse Talent Pool

When Samuel founded the FAST team with Shawn, he had multiplicity in mind. “One of the most attractive parts of the team is that you get to work with technical folks from different backgrounds, but you also get to work with non-technical people and partner with them to make the business more data-driven,” Samuel says.

The FAST team prides itself on the diversity of strengths that its members bring to the table. And the team members come from various backgrounds. Wesley, for example, studied applied math in biology with a minor in chemistry.

And Goldman Sachs’s commitment to career progression is also rewarding, Debbie says. She was promoted to Vice President and also leads the engagement pillar of her department’s Women in Engineering chapter, an initiative which aims to promote professional and personal development.

Likewise, Shawn, who is a member of the Engineering Campus Recruiting Committee, works with Human Capital Management on developing outreach strategies to reach diverse talent around the country.

A Common Goal

The work that the FAST team does has garnered a lot of interest from others within the firm to find out how they can use data. That interest has been extremely motivational, Debbie says. “People who have some kind of pain point and see that solved through data get excited about those possibilities.”

But it’s not just about data. “What I love is the people I work with,” Samuel says. “I get to work with a lot of curious, smart people who all want to work towards the common goal.” You don’t need to be a data scientist to know that’s what makes a great team.

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