Meet the innovators at AT&T Labs in our “Meet the Minds” series. First up, Chris Volinsky, Assistant Vice President of Big Data Research.
Chris has always been fascinated by numbers. As a child, he charted his favorite baseball players’ batting averages over time on graph paper. After completing his PhD and graduate studies – including an internship at AT&T – Chris joined the data mining team at AT&T. Seventeen years later, he provides technical oversight to teams working on data sets to improve products, services and customers’ experiences.
What does a typical day look like for you?
A typical day for me involves working with the core inventive scientists on various data related projects at the AT&T Labs in Bedminster, NJ. As a manager, one of my responsibilities is to put together teams of 3-8 people to work on a particular data set to solve a particular problem. My role is to oversee those projects and make sure we assign the right resources to right problem, as well as give some technical oversight and make sure the project is moving along.
How did you first get started at AT&T?
During grad school, I completed a summer internship with an AT&T research group at Murray Hill. This was my first exposure to real world data and was so much more interesting than the toy examples I was working with in school. I was thrilled when AT&T offered me a job after graduation, and I’ve been here 17 years since then.
What has been one of the proudest moments in your career?
A few years ago, I was a part of an international team of data scientists that built an algorithm that won the Netflix Prize. The competition involved thousands of teams from all over the world using Netflix’s customer data to predict which movies users would rank highly. Three years of collaboration later, our team was awarded the prestigious prize and $1 million for our work.
What do you do outside of work?
My favorite pastime is coaching my daughters’ softball teams. It allows me to get back out on the diamond and spend quality time with them as they grow up. I also enjoy international travel with my family and skiing in the wintertime.
You can follow Chris on Twitter: @statpumpkin
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