Vista’s culture is proving fertile ground for career growth
Moving to Vista after 11 years’ research and teaching at illustrious institutions including the University of Cambridge, Caltech, Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, Marta Dies tells us what it’s like to swap the academic frontline for the business of transformation.
Your role at Vista is to optimize the manufacturing supply chain. Biophysics to manufacturing is a big jump. What sparked your move?
They’re more similar than you’d think. As a biophysicist, I studied complex systems in living cells and understanding life through this lens changed the way I see the world. Manufacturing plants are extremely organized and optimized, just like a cell; in both cases, raw materials enter the system and experience different transformation processes in an orchestrated way.
What are the main similarities and differences?
What I loved most about being a research scientist was the early phase of a project: identifying a gap in our knowledge. It feels like being an explorer or even an adventurer – you never know where you’ll end up or what techniques you’ll use. A professor at Caltech called this phase “quick and dirty”: it’s all about discovery, playing, and exploiting our inner curiosity. In industry, we’re often in the discovery phase, but instead of publication, the end goal is application. The most rewarding part of my job is seeing a model I’ve created helping customers. That’s something I can only get in industry.
What are you working on right now that will help customers?
Alongside my colleagues in the Data and Analytics (DnA) team, I’m optimizing the manufacturing supply chain forecast with state-of-the-art data-led approaches. I’m using demand data to forecast what materials we’ll need. Better forecasting of raw materials means Vista can line up the right equipment and personnel. It also minimizes our risk of stock outages. The negative ripple effects of a product being unavailable could be huge.
Why is stock forecasting particularly important for Vista?
Our ambition is to become the design and marketing partner of choice for small businesses. That means being reliable. We also want to be known for delivery of high-quality products on time. From an internal perspective, fixing supply issues consumes a lot of time and other resources – customer care, sales and marketing and web teams, to name a few. So, the beauty and challenge of my work is providing a solution that translates into better planning for colleagues, cost savings for the company, and a fantastic customer experience.
What are the data science challenges involved?
The data product I’m working on – the manufacturing forecast – will give us the most granular view into Vista’s manufacturing process we’ve ever had. We’re now forecasting over 2,000 raw materials for each of our plants! Data scientists will know the significant scale, effort and computing power involved. Vista and DnA’s commitment to cloud environments and best practice means I can quickly run and optimize my forecasts. We’re on top of the wave when it comes to tech.
Why did you choose to join Vista? What did you look for in terms of culture fit?
There are two things I always look for: a learner’s environment and a greater purpose. At Vista, I found both. We work in small data product teams that are focused on solving a specific problem. In general, these teams include people with different backgrounds and skillsets, which makes our combined output strong. We also have “chapters” made up of subject matter experts. I’m in the Data Science chapter. It means we can ask other data scientists for rigorous technical feedback on the way we’re trying to solve a problem. These collaborative elements – and the harmony between technical and soft skills – are what makes the job even more appealing. And on a personal level, I always feel connected to the greater purpose of my work. Helping small businesses in every neighborhood succeed.
Tell us more about Vista’s neighborhood mission – why is it important to you?
I live in Barcelona, where small, independent businesses have been the heartbeat of the city for ever. The pandemic has hit a lot of little places we love and rely on, and I’d like to have my neighborhood back to its bustling best. So that’s what it’s really all about from the data science perspective – the human story. I’m part of a cool company that gives small business owners every edge they need to succeed. When they choose our design products, we become part of their team. I want my work at DnA to be useful to both Vista and our end customers. It’s a vocation of service. It’s about values.
What advice do you have for others thinking about moving sector?
I would offer three pieces of advice:
- Look for an industry that provides you with awesome data to work with.
- Be confident in your ethical views and look for projects that have a positive impact in the world.
- Find a job you love – and that loves you back. I have really strong feelings on this one!
Are you thinking of taking a leap into data science? Look at career opportunities with Vista DnA.