Employee story: António’s path to Fraud Data Science Team Lead at Adjust
Tiahn Wetzler, Senior Manager, Content & Editorial, Adjust, Dec 29, 2020.
We caught up with Fraud Data Science Team Lead António Mendes for this month’s employee story. Read on to hear about how he landed on a career in ad fraud, and what his transition to managing a team has been like while working from home.
With a background in engineering and mathematics, coupled with strong problem-solving skills, António found his niche in fraud prevention data analysis. Originally from Lisbon, Portugal, António is now based out of Adjust’s headquarters in Berlin, where he heads up our team of fraud prevention data scientists.
What piqued your interest in the area of fraud and data science and a career at Adjust?
I’m from Lisbon originally, and that’s where I studied - at NOVA University. They had just started offering a course called Information Management, which was like the original data science course before it was even known as that in Lisbon. Numbers and analytics had always appealed to me, so this course stood out. I then started a master’s in mathematics but realized pretty quickly that I was ready to start working full time.
My first position was with BNP Paribas in Lisbon as a CRM data scientist. I enjoyed the role, but it lacked a certain level of job diversity, so I started seeking out opportunities abroad.
I’m really happy with where I’ve ended up, as my role now really is a meeting point of the different ways that my brain works. It’s a very data-driven role that requires a lot of research and handling of extremely huge volumes of data but also incorporates analytics and programming. If I had to explain my job in layman’s terms, I’d say: someone presents me with an open-ended question and I figure out the best solution for them. It can take many forms, from recommendations of the next steps to take to a prediction of different possible future scenarios. It could also be an analysis of the potential impacts a decision could have for our clients and partners.
How did Adjust support your internal growth?
After realizing that I wanted to work abroad, I applied as a data scientist at Adjust but landed the role of fraud specialist instead. It became apparent quite quickly that my skill set was more attuned to numbers and programming than it was to the client-facing topics encompassed by the fraud specialist role. From there, I took on the role of fraud data scientist, and I massively appreciate that Adjust encouraged me to move into a role that suited me better.
As one of the first people hired in the fraud prevention team, I worked on setting up a lot of the ground infrastructure and actually ended up hiring my own boss. I didn’t necessarily plan to become a team lead - it wasn’t a clear aspiration. We got to the stage, however, where we clearly needed more data people and to form a team dedicated to fraud data science. When you’re working in tech, it’s likely that at some point, you’ll either move into management, or really specialize in a niche. I decided that becoming a team lead was the right step for me, partially because a lot of my strengths lay in the social and human skills of the job, and Adjust completely supported me in that transition.
How has the transition to team lead been while working from home?
It’s been easier than you would expect, and that’s largely because we hired really well. The team is naturally very smart and very relaxed. It’s been really important for me to balance out the team with the right personalities and skillsets - it’s not just about who’s good on paper, the cultural fit is just as crucial. I emphasize team dynamics and how we interact with each other - it’s important that no one ever feels anxious coming into a meeting or that they don’t feel comfortable speaking or presenting. I’m also not the kind of team lead who tells people exactly what to do, how to do it and when to do it, it’s collaborative, and we work things out together. We keep the playing field very level and so far, it’s been working out really well.
We have two weekly meetings with everyone in the team, one to kick the week off and another to recap, relax and catch up. Mid-week, I also meet with everyone individually to go over anything that might be blocking them, and to make sure we’re on track for any tasks we’re working on. I keep an open-door policy, anyone from the team can call me whenever they want or need to, and vice versa.
How would you describe the working culture at Adjust?
Coming from the working culture in Portugal that I touched on earlier, I was blown away and loved it from the day I started. It was totally different - it wasn’t all about working overtime, but being focused on the tasks that matter. I started in July and by September I’d moved into a role far more suited to me. In October we went to Thailand for a tech retreat and in January, we went to Mauritius.
It’s also far more diverse than anywhere I worked in Portugal. I had never had the chance to work with people from countries like Japan or Australia before - this difference alone was amazing. Adjust also creates a lot of opportunities for people to feel involved in the company and with other teams, through events, parties, and these retreats and trips. The culture has always been really nice and very open, and even throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, they’ve done a good job at maintaining this spirit. The company is also five times as big as it was when I started, and while it’s challenging to maintain the same ‘personal’ approach now, Adjust do an amazing job at making everyone feel involved and heard. It’ll be great to see how things change and develop in the next year!
We’re always searching for great talent and new team members, and have plenty of open positions available across our international offices. Whether you want to work in Berlin, Beijing, or anywhere in between, you can check out current opportunities here or head to our careers page to learn more about life working at Adjust.