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Head of Data Science

Posted: 3 Feb 2021 Closes: 29 Apr 2021
London (FT) Competitive
Permanent & Full-time JR006138

Given our current climate, we are currently all working remotely and will consider applicants from across the UK to apply for this role. To note that this may change in the future depending on our policies and it is likely that UK employees will be required to be at our London HQ in the future. We also welcome candidates from Sofia, Bulgaria to apply for this role.

About Us

Across the FT Group, our people are united by a mission to deliver world-class information, news and services to our global audiences. We're a digital-first organisation made up of journalists, technologists, product managers, event planners, strategists, commercial and finance experts, marketing and communications specialists - and much more. Our strength is in our employees, who hail from all different backgrounds and walks of life.

Our commitment to diversity and inclusion in the workplace

At the FT, we aim for employees across all regions to have a voice so that diverse perspectives are heard and valued. We believe that a supportive workplace is one where employees feel they can be themselves at work and have the flexibility they need to meet their personal needs. We'll continue to remove barriers for all, and in particular barriers facing employees from underrepresented groups.

The Role / Position Overview

This is a unique opportunity to lead the Data Science function at the FT. A team whose objective is to increase the number of subscribers and support our award winning journalism. Over the past two years the team has grown substantially from three to 11 data scientists. Demand for data science is expected to increase as we pivot towards an ambitious new subscriptions strategy.

Collaboration is central to how we work. Teams of up to three data scientists work together on projects, alongside developers, product managers, marketeers and journalists. We believe a diverse set of opinions and backgrounds generate better ideas and solve problems faster. Our tech stack varies depending on the problem and form of deployment, but usually involves R and BigQuery, and increasingly python. As a media company, we place special importance on clear and engaging explanations of our projects and models.

We are lucky to be able to work on a wide range of ideas from across the FT. In the past these have included recommending content topics for each user based on reading behaviour, predicting which subscribers will cancel and measuring the gender balance of homepage images with facial recognition. Our outputs are a critical generator of business value for the FT. For example, Customer Lifetime value modelling has generated LTV predictions which have formally become our “North Star” metric, guiding decision-making across the FT. If projects like these excite you, consider applying to lead the team.

Reports into: Chief Analytics Officer

Key Responsibilities

  • Leading a team of 10+ data scientists to build, document and test machine learning pipelines

  • Owning and driving the Data Science strategy, and being a key contributor to our overall Data Analytics strategy in collaboration with broader Data Analytics teams

  • Setting clear goals and priorities for the team, and motivating team members with a clear vision of why they are important and how they contribute to the overall business strategy

  • Building strong relationships with leaders in stakeholder teams and working with them to ensure that our outputs are clearly understood and used effectively

  • Establishing and embedding a playbook for data science model deployment. This will include how data scientists work with product and technology teams, and principles for technical architecture

  • Protecting the team’s time to allow productive focus

  • Implementing talent development frameworks and helping early career data scientists realise their potential. This is about making the FT a great place to work and maximising the talent in the team

  • Exploring opportunities to innovate in our application of Data Science to the FT - both through injecting best practices on the market which could be applied to our business, and investigating new methodologies

Required Skills / Experience 


  • Experience leading a mid-sized team, including recruitment and talent development

  • Experience working with large data sets to solve complex problems

  • Experience prioritising, maintaining and delivering a pipeline of competing projects 

  • Recent experience deploying and maintaining production batch machine learning services. Our team is strong at proof-of-concept models and testing ideas; we would like to optimise production deployment.

  • Appreciation for the pros and cons of API vs Batch deployment

  • Appreciation for a range of data science skills - not just model development

  • Passion for making the complicated easy to understand, through writing, talks or visualizations 

  • Proficiency with R or python, or good knowledge of other scripting languages and interest to learn a new one

  • Experience of - or a strong interest in - managing managers

Extras we would be excited about

  • Previous work in a newsroom or media company

  • Work in agile teams or knowledge or agile methodologies

  • Experience in working with marketing/sales stakeholders to deliver data science solutions

  • Experience with any of H2O, Tensorflow, Airflow, D3, RStudio Connect, Git/SVN + GitHub, R package development, CircleCI, ggplot2

  • Has been part of team working with Airflow or similar

  • Conversational Bulgarian (part of the team is in our tech hub in Sofia)

  • Masters or PhD in Maths, Statistics or similar

What’s in it for you? Our Benefits

Our benefits vary depending on location, but we are committed to providing best in class perks across all our offices as well as an inclusive environment to develop your career. Examples of our benefits include; generous annual leave allowances, flexible working (including working from home), medical cover, enhanced maternity & paternity packages, subsidised gym memberships and Giving Back opportunities. Full details of our benefits can be found here.

Further Information

The FT are committed to providing an inclusive working environment for all. We are an equal opportunities employer who seeks to recruit and appoint the best talent regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, socio-economic background, religion and/or belief. We also promote flexible working and will consider specific requests around flexibility for all roles where it can be accommodated. Please let us know if you require any adjustments as part of the application process or to enable you to attend an interview. If you would like to discuss your requirements, or have any questions, please contact a member of our HR team who will be happy to help. 

Financial Times

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