Open Book: Sherry Wang, Data Science Manager
Open Book is a series of interviews featuring the incredible people of Opendoor. Learn more about Sherry!
4/8/2021 · 6 min read
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Open Book is a series of interviews for you to get to know the incredible people of Opendoor. Sherry Wang, Data Science Manager, says that it’s “in our team’s DNA” to understand what Opendoor customers need. When we talked with Sherry, she told us how the team is using data to help build a world-class customer experience and why that inspires her work each day.
Hi Sherry! We’re looking forward to learning about your career journey today. Can you tell us about your path to Opendoor?
I was working at a large, well-known technology company when I first heard about Opendoor and saw how quickly it was growing. A few of my trusted colleagues and mentors left the company I was with to join Opendoor, and I was curious about the problems they were solving.
While I was learning more about Opendoor, I found myself growing excited about the idea of working at a mid-size startup again. I thrive in environments where there’s opportunity to make an impact, and that itch ultimately led me to interview with Opendoor.
We’re so glad it did. Now the Data Science Manager on the Data Science – Advanced Analytics team, where do you see your team’s biggest impact?
Everything my team does maps back to Opendoor’s mission to empower everyone to move, which resonated with me right away. I’ve always loved the intersection of technology and operations, and I’m drawn to work that has a positive impact on people and their lives.
My team, Advanced Analytics, is focused on understanding the customer needs of our business, which is critical for Opendoor to provide the best products and offerings in addition to getting pricing and financials right. We use quantitative data to uncover what the Opendoor experience is like for our customers, such as what people like about it and where we can make it even better for them. We also join customer interviews and listen to customer calls to get a qualitative perspective, explore different data, and validate our hypotheses. Armed with all of this information, our team is able to speak for our customers, gain empathy for them, and help guide strategic business decisions.
Is there a recent challenge or something you’re working on now that showcases your team’s cross-functional efforts?
Amidst COVID-19, we changed several things in our product and buying/selling experience to enhance customer safety. These included offering virtual home assessments (rather than in-person) and updating our touring options to ensure people have contact-free and fully digital options for seeing the homes they’re interested in. Like with any new product or experience, we didn’t know what worked or what new problems might surface. The business had new questions for our team, and we needed to work together to figure out how to answer them.
We decided to set up quantitative measures to understand, from a data perspective, how customers were moving through these new experiences. While we know that no two customer journeys are exactly the same, aggregating the data helps us see patterns of where confusion, discomfort, or inconvenience occurs. From there, we can take steps to deduct what’s causing those experiences. For example, if we notice that people are scheduling self-tours and failing to show up, we might learn that we’re not offering the most optimal time slots for seeing homes.
Once we have an idea about what’s happening and why, we bring our learnings to other teams, such as Product and Business Operations. With the customer top of mind, we work together on designing different solutions and methods for home buyers and sellers using Opendoor.
Is there anything you’ve found to be especially unique about Opendoor while working closely with other teams?
I’ve been so impressed by the trust and teamwork we have, and it stood out as being something different from day one. People are extremely driven and have a strong sense of ownership over their work, and everyone makes the extra effort to ensure their work map back to Opendoor’s mission and business goals.
I often think about our team as a big group rowing a boat together; we’re all focused on going the same direction and working hard to ensure we can get there. I love hearing people’s ideas, observing how my teammates think through projects from beginning to end, and pushing each other past our individual comfort zones to grow and do our best work.
And clearly, there’s no shortage of work to be done! What keeps you feeling inspired?
I see that we have an opportunity to grow the business and transform the real estate industry. When Opendoor first started the Data Science team, it was focused mostly on financial technology. Now, we’re buying homes at scale and there’s endless possibility.
I’m energized by new challenges and working through more nuanced problems. We think about things like how we can work with people who are deciding what to do with their homes, what’s working, and where we can do even more. We help establish Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and figure out which indicators we should focus on. Without effective measurement, we can’t make meaningful changes. Driving these efforts drives me.
What should people know about joining the Advanced Analytics team? Is there anything else you’d like to share about what it’s like to be a part of Opendoor?
Our team is composed of data scientists who have different backgrounds and skills, and we love when they bring their varied experiences and interests to the work we’re doing. People who thrive on our team usually show interest in one or more of the following three areas:
Quantitative strategy. Using system thinking abilities to translate vague questions into quantitatively solvable problems, storytelling with data, and working with cross-functional teams to drive business improvement.
Inference. Using statistics and data to help business stakeholders identify if something is true. Our inference experts use various experimentation and causal inference techniques to help determine if A is actually affecting B, and how that translates to improving the customer experience.
Machine learning and modeling. We see AI researchers take interest here, but have extra appreciation for those who can apply and frame business problems into the correct structures and identify the best ways to create trustworthy models to help the business.
If you’re passionate about solving problems, love making an impact, and want to make a big change in a massive industry, we’d love to meet you!
Interested in joining our team? Opendoor is hiring across all teams, including Data Science! Check out our current open positions!
Want to learn more about working at Opendoor? Check out our Design and Engineering and Data Science blogs.