Relaying the Value of Communication to Data Scientists

Tashay Green-Meeks recently spoke to MSiA students about her work as director of data science at Sedgwick and why data science today is about more than just technology.

Tashay Green-Meeks jokes that insurance is something most people will use at some point in their lives, but few people know how the industry works "under the hood."

She's one of those people that knows.

Tashay Green-Meeks Green-Meeks is the director of data science for Sedgwick, one of the world’s largest insurance claims management services. She recently spoke to students in Northwestern Engineering's Master of Science in Analytics (MSiA) program about the inner workings of the insurance industry and how it relies on skills the students are currently developing. As the newest member of the MSiA Industry Advisory Board (IAB), she has an inside look at how the program is preparing students to stand out in the analytics and data science fields — now, and in the future. 

“It’s a privilege to leave my mark on an institution as prestigious as Northwestern,” she said. “I see my role as not just present day, but looking at how we can set the program up for success 10, 20, and 30 years from now.” 

The MSiA IAB is made up of professionals across a range of industries who recognize the value of analytics and leverage them on a daily basis. Green-Meeks is no exception. As a massive player in the insurance space, Sedgwick compiles billions of data points that Green-Meeks’ team feeds through different machine learning models to give companies actionable insights and a foundation on which to make smart decisions.

Green-Meeks leads a team of eight data scientists at Sedgwick, where she’s been for a little more than a year. She said that as technology has advanced, what it means to excel as a data scientist has too.  

“Model building is now often the simplest and least important part of an entire project,” she said. "You can build the most sophisticated model and most performant machine learning model in the world, but can you talk about it? Can you explain it to the business and why it’s important and how they can make money from it?”

Green-Meeks said the biggest challenge she faces is communicating the value of the data she and her team are bringing to experienced individuals who might be resistant to change. She sees MSiA's emphasis on analysis and clear communication as a strength, one she wants to ensure remains central for current and future students.

“The ability to communicate well – written and verbally – and to collaborate are some of the greatest skills a data scientist can have,” she said. “It’s important for a program like MSiA to not only place value and invest resources in teaching students the technology, but also in teaching students how that technology relates to a business.”

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