The Data Exchange Podcast: Solmaz Shahalizadeh on product development and product management in the machine learning era.
In this episode of the Data Exchange I speak with Solmaz Shahalizadeh, VP and Head of Data Science and Data Platform Engineering at Shopify. Shopify is a powerhouse in ecommerce and their technology powers over a million businesses worldwide. Solmaz is a frequent speaker and presenter at conferences throughout the world and she has played a critical role in helping Shopify scale its data and machine learning infrastructure.
Our conversation covered many important technical and business topics including:
- Building and scaling machine learning data products.
- Building and scaling data teams.
- Data informed product building.
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Ben Lorica: It’s great to have you on, because you wear two hats: data science and data engineering, which are very related, but somehow in some companies somewhat disconnected. So, first of all, is that a deliberate move on the part of you and the Shopify leadership, to put data science and data engineering under the same org?
Solmaz Shahalizadeh: That’s a very good point. It is very intentional that we have our data platform engineering and data science teams under the same leadership. The idea behind that is that for any data science team to be able to have an impact at the company, the right infrastructure needs to be in place. That includes systems to ingest data, to transform, process, load, and all of that. Through experience, we have seen that having these teams close to each other with a similar mandate helps a lot in making progress and bringing machine learning and AI—and, in general, data-informed culture—to the company. So, we have had this set up for the past five years, and it has really served us well.
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- “Key AI and Data Trends for 2020”
[Image: “HapagLloyd5” by Dean Wampler; used with permission.]