7 – David Lennie – Big Data Netflix Shopify – The Beertelligence Podcast

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“Good data work has nothing to do with technical skill”

David Lennie is currently SVP of Data & Analytics at Shopify, a booming e-commerce startup that has seen steep growth recently, up more 400% since they went public in May 2015.

Before Shopify, he spent almost 5 years at Netflix where he managed a team of 60 employees and delivered a big data analytics platform across all areas of Netflix.

And before both of those he was head of Business Intelligence for Playboy, where he designed and deployed the company’s first corporate data warehouse.

David is a thoughtful and reflective manager who discusses at length the human parts of managing a team, even if the work itself is all about the numbers. We discuss mentoring, hiring and firing and everything in between as it relates to running a business.

We also spend a fair amount of time discussing corporate culture, specifically the infamous Netflix culture of Freedom & Responsibility & David’s first-hand account.

In this episode we discuss:
+ Netflix corporate culture
+ People & processes, when they’re good, when they’re not
+ The diminishing returns of adding people to a team
+ Working for a Canadian company vs US company
+ How process is organizational training wheels
+ Patty McCord’s Netflix culture views
+ Why performance improvement plans (PIPs) are useless
+ How hiring data is so misleading for HR
+ How analytics can be applied to culture, process, benefit
+ How having the proper question up front is important to designing data structure
+ How mentoring & people development is what he enjoys most
+ Challenges of fake news & newsfeed via algorithms
+ Using an Executive coach & insights they can offer into work style & motivations
+ The hype & dangers of machine learning & AI as it becomes more prevalent
+ How AI can inadvertently reinforce systemic problems
+ When and how should AI be merciful
+ How & when you should take more risks, not letting life to slide by

Links:
Netflix Freedom & Responsibility

Documentary DamNation (trailer)

David on Linkedin:
https://www.linkedin.com/in/dlennie/

Music:
http://www.bensound.com

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