I think analytics has chosen me. My first experience with analytics was in college at the University of Washington when I took my first statistics course. The class was taught by Geoff Loftus (who also wrote the book used in the course). He was an excellent communicator and his course changed how I thought about numbers and how to understand the world in which we live. The idea that I could understand processes by quantifying them and then analyzing the data helped feed my curiosity of how the world works. I was immediately hooked on to statistics. Decades after my introduction to statistics, I saw Geoff Loftus at a local grocery store. I stopped him at checkout and told him how valuable his course was to me. I told him how it shaped how I saw the world and inspired me to pursue statistics as a major part of my education. Believe me; I apply his teachings to my work every single day.
When I was a child, my mother used to tell me, “Bobby, you joke too much’’. You can always find me looking for the next laugh-along with the next data set. I take my work seriously but never take myself seriously. I’m often asked by aspiring data professionals, ’what is needed to become a successful data scientist?’. First, I tell them that data science is a team sport. If you want to have a successful data science project, you’ll need team members who possess expertise in various skill areas. The quote, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together”, aptly defines our data science field. I don’t know the source of the quote, but I like it because it conveys the importance of working with other people. Also, isn’t it more fun to work with different people with different skills? I insist that data science requires three broad skill sets: Subject Matter Expertise, Technology/Programming and Math/Statistics. Find your passion in one of these three broad skill areas and dive deep into it to become an expert. I tell all aspiring data scientist to learn some basic level of statistics, data mining and visualization tools because at the end of the day it is the story/insight that is important and not the data.
What I love about data science is ‘how we could use data and make people’s lives better and happier.’ Well, that’s my passion! I have a passion for ridding the world of cancer. I lost my wife to breast cancer two years ago. She inspired me and others by how she lived her life. She was an outstanding public defender. Laughter was a part of everything we did, from eating dinner to playing any board game. Having undergone the pain from this loss, I’m always thinking of ways to help ensure our species can find a cure for different types of cancer. Recently, my family and I developed a product (indeed, a gag gift) that we are using to raise money for prostate cancer research.
I’m a big fan of using open data to help society. A few years ago, I got a hold of some publicly available data sets about US hospitals that are collected by Medicare. The data included metrics for each hospital on patient satisfaction, the process of care, mortality rates and safety. By applying Big Data principles on these disparate data sources, I integrated different metrics from their respective databases to better understand the quality of US hospitals and determine ways they can improve the patient experience and the overall healthcare delivery system. I love the creative process, developing new approaches to old ideas. I spent hours analyzing the data sets and found some interesting results and created an interactive map of US hospitals (http://
When it comes to my health, I have a love-hate relationship with running. I hate running because it is hard, and I love it because it allows me to eat rich, chocolatey things and not have to buy new clothes.😊
Meet Bob Hayes: A terrific blogger, fitness freak, Data Science expert