To employ smart people who have a passion — That’s the mission at Genscape, according to Staci McArter, Sr. Human Resources Generalist.
With the world’s largest network of patented and proprietary technologies, Genscape offers a unique brand of sophisticated surveillance and data-crunching technology across the commodity and energy spectrum. The goal is to provide the highest quality fundamental data faster than any other organization, bar none.
They meet that goal by hiring exceptional talent that works to continually build new tools. Most recently, the tools they’re building center around machine learning and AI.
It’s not just the cool digs that makes Genscape different than most data companies in the Louisville area. It’s mostly the people. How do you hire people for this kind of work?
According to Rick Mook, Senior Director of Project Management at Genscape, the company hires people who have ideas and a talent for innovating rather than an extensive background in Big Data. “Genscape is in a niche area of the Big Data business. You’re not going to find people who have years of experience in a field as cutting-edge as this one,” Mook said.
Mook, who was a music scholar before he came to Genscape, said it helps that the teams are cross-functioning. “It’s one of the things that we retained from the start-up culture: If an employee of one team has an idea that is given the go-ahead, then all teams work together to make it happen.”
Machine learning and AI
Brent Sundheimer, Senior Director of Data Intelligence at Genscape, says, “Our company collects trillions upon trillions of pieces of data coming in from sensors and public sources. Being able to wrangle all that data is an increasingly large challenge.”
There has been a surge in the world of machine learning and AI in the last few years and Genscape realized that some of the new techniques could be adapted to collect data and gain unique insights, according to Sundheimer.
The machine learning and AI tools Genscape develops are a testament to the company’s desire to constantly innovate but also to empower its employees. “You won’t see Senior Management dictating what tools should be used. It’s a much more organic process in which employees are empowered to figure out what methods will be the best fit for every situation and then help create the tools they need.”
In this supportive team environment, an employee can come up with an idea and pursue it whether or not they alone have the skills for the implementation.
Mook recalls an example: “We used to have cameras set up at different areas that took pictures to let us know if a truck was in a certain area, data we needed for our algorithm. We could have upwards of 2 ½ million pictures as a result and one employee had to manually look through them all. That employee suggested that the process was a perfect use case for artificial intelligence. We created a tool to automate that process so that employee could spend his time in more meaningful ways.”
When Nan Jia came to Genscape as a Machine Learning Specialist a year and a half ago, her first priority was improving the demand forecasting model. “To make this happen, I collaborate with those who have domain intelligence expertise. We work together to create the tools needed.”
Jia is currently heading a project in which she needs to find a machine learning solution for forecasting energy consumption for clients. She is experimenting with state-of-the-art tools and lots of algorithms.
“That’s where team collaboration comes in. The data experts know their subjects and I lean on them a lot to determine how to use machine learning to help them.”
Genscape’s dedication to teamwork is also obvious in their annual Tech Summits, in which the technology team gathers to discuss the processes around their product creation. At this year’s summit, a very engaged group discussed product lifecycles and everyone present got to weigh in with their suggestions for improvement and innovation. The whole team was involved in decisions as specific as SQL database access and as broad as what behaviors makes a successful team, such as:
- Take responsibility for the little things. If something can be improved, do something about it.
- Communicate, communicate, communicate. Overshare. Give demos. Cross-pollinate.
- The team is distributed and therefore has to take specific actions to counter the communication difficulties.
- Write up ideas for people so when decisions are being made, we can explain the “why” of them without calling meeting after meeting.
Who works at Genscape?
Genscape’s employees come from a wide range of backgrounds. There’s a geologist who builds databases and a former Navy engineer working in data science. “But they’re all broad, analytic thinkers who are willing to work with others,” according to Mook.
Building a winning business is all about access to exceptional talent. What makes Genscape unique is that they hire for the mindset and the willingness to continuously learn, rather than look for specific skill sets. With more than a decade of growth, it’s proven to be a winning strategy. Innovation and diverse backgrounds are what make Genscape unique and are why people love to work for there.
Visit Genscape Careers to learn more about new opportunities.