Welcoming Data Scientist Russell Pierce

Russell Pierce
Russell Pierce / Published July 1, 2016

A note from Wade Foster, Zapier CEO: Data science in SaaS requires a merging of statistical abilities with engineering and programming skills that are rare. That's why I'm excited to welcome Russell Pierce to Zapier. Russell brings with him a full data science skill set along with a background in cognitive psychology, which brings a wealth of empathy for users and customers. We're excited to have Russell joining us to help improve Zapier and better understand the ways we can make it better.

Tools are the thing. If there is a way to solve a problem with a tool, do it! If the tool doesn’t already exist, make it! It is easy to make building a new tool a worthwhile investment if you'll learn from the experience or help others out. Even so, I keep a comic near my desk to remind me that the perfect can be the enemy of the good: sometimes making a custom tool is not the right choice.

While studying Cognitive Psychology and Human Factors at the University of California, Riverside, I collaborated with great folks on a variety of topics. Friends and colleagues frequently came to me with problems that could be solved with just a bit more statistical or programming know-how.

With the support of awesome faculty and peers, I hacked away and learned how to make tools and conduct statistical analyses to solve those problems. At the end of my PhD, quite by accident, I found myself well on my way to becoming a "Data Scientist". Four years of experience later—two as a Research Psychologist at NHTSA and two as a Data Scientist/Engineer at Powerinbox—I found myself looking for a new challenge.

That’s when I saw the job posting for a Data Scientist at Zapier. I researched further and found that Zapier can add superpowers to existing tools by connecting them with other tools already available. In doing so, it saves tool makers from having to reinvent the wheel and can even increase apps' user retention in the process. It automates tasks that otherwise would mean hours of tedium.

In short, Zapier does what I’ve been doing for years: it combines tools in ways that are new that fit specific needs. Better yet, lets you become a tool builder without having to learn coding. Many of the problems I have seen researchers and data scientists wrangle with with, managing research schedules, integrating with survey apps, and writing interactive analysis bots can be solved using Zapier. Seriously, if you are in a situation where you are cutting and pasting information from one web-app to another stop and try Zapier. With a brief time investment, you can make your data more consistent and you can put hours of tedium behind you.

Zapier was the kind of tool I wanted to be a part of building and improving—and luckily for me, they needed a Data Scientist right when I was looking for a new adventure (sadly, I can’t scuba all of the time). As Zapier’s second data scientist, I have the fortune to be working alongside Chris Peters where we will share the task of exploring the data to find ways to best improve the utility and usability of Zapier.

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