30 Mar Meet Patrick Robinson, a Validere data scientist, university professor, and drink mixology extraordinaire.
Patrick Robinson grew up in Toronto, Ontario and completed his Ph.D. in Pure Math at the University of Toronto. After just celebrating his third year work anniversary with Validere, we wanted to share Patrick’s journey and experiences with the team, from his day-to-day to his career aspirations.
What attracted you to join Validere?
I got a frantic message from my recruiter, telling me that she had just spoken to a client and that I would be perfect for their Data Science role. I was a little surprised at first, because the company was in the oil and gas industry, and I wasn’t sure how well I would fit into that space. I set up a call with Ian Burgess, and it turned out that Ian and I both had a background in physics. Our half-hour scheduled conversation turned out to be an hour long as we discussed various things. Ian reconnected with me a little later and asked if I’d like to come into the office and work on an actual problem the company was dealing with, using the real data (after signing an NDA).
What I loved the most about working on this was that I was solving a real problem, rather than working on a contrived interview question. It gave me a true sense of what the work would be like at the company, and what the dynamics with coworkers would be. Having met everyone and realizing how positive, nice, and talented they were, I knew this is where I wanted to be.
As a Data Scientist, what does your day-to-day look like?
That’s definitely changed over time. My day-to-day is different depending on the project I take on. When working on a big data science project, there are a lot of little pieces and checklists to go through: to see if you have the right data; if you need to create a model to estimate the data you don’t have; to create tools to check the validity of the model you have created. From there, I need to deal with inter-team technical issues while working with the Data Engineering team to make sure everything gets up on the platform. If it’s a client meeting day, then I have to connect with Services to plan out how to present findings and ask questions of the client to further our ability to tackle their problem.
What do you enjoy the most about working at Validere?
I really love working with the Validere team because everyone is incredibly brilliant, and very personable. One of the unspoken rules is “no egos”, and you really get that sense from talking to people. From sharing recipes on the cooking channel, to receiving tea from a colleague in Calgary, and scheduling regular video after-work hangouts, it is so nice to interact with everyone.
Also, I like being able to flex my math brain. There are so many intricate problems that we face when trying to offer client solutions because the problems are fundamentally physical ones — we have actual compounds mixing through pipes, and tanks, and have to deal with physical properties like temperature affecting our results. I get to do a lot of interesting research and coding, and I appreciate that it’s grounded in reality.
What are your next career steps / aspirations?
I definitely want to continue building my skill set to contribute more to the team. Specifically, I want to work on my programming skills, and hone my consulting abilities. I would also like to take a lead role on some larger projects, continue learning and growing, and taking more responsibility.
What advice do you have for prospective Validerians / for someone new to the industry?
If you’re not from the oil and gas industry, don’t worry. A lot of the employees at Validere did not have industry experience when they started including our co-founders, Ian Burgess and Nouman Ahmad. We can get you up to speed fairly quickly.
Also, don’t be afraid to fail as long as you take the lessons learned and always look for places where you can improve.
If you are applying to Validere, leave your ego at the door and don’t be intimidated by the talent at the company. Come into it open minded!
Any random facts you could share with us?
I started the cooking and drinks channel on the Validere Slack! It’s been a nice place to share ideas with everyone. Also, I’m really into creating cocktails and I’ve run cocktail classes for our team. For events, I’ve created cocktails named after different grades of oil!
Do you have any book or podcast recommendations?
Here’s my cooking book and cocktail book recommendations:
- Starting Out: It’s an excellent book for college students moving out of their family home for the first time because it tells what each culinary term means and lists all the utensils you need for your home. As for their recipes, they are easy-to-follow and delicious. This book is great because it helps you get foundational knowledge and makes the kitchen seem less intimidating.
- The Bar Book: Although bar books can be daunting, this bar book provides some recipes. However, it is more focused on getting readers up to speed on all things cocktails, such as the tools you’ll need and the prep beforehand.