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A day in the life of Sandra Greiss, Data Scientist at online fashion boutique Lyst


Sandra Greiss, 27, is a data scientist at online fashion boutique, Lyst. She lives in London with her husband Yousef, an interior designer

At 7am. I’ll build my outfit around my shoes – since working at Lyst I’ve developed a real love of shoes and I now have over 100 pairs. My current obsession is a pair of Christian Louboutin ‘Bandy’ pumps. Working at a global online fashion retailer, I’m surrounded by images of amazing clothes and accessories all day, so I guess it was inevitable, although the data-engineering team – there are five of us – are more casually dressed than the rest of the office. It’s usually a pair of Zara jeans and a top for me. I usually leave the house at 8.45am after a quick breakfast of eggs and avocado.

Taking the huge amount of data that Lyst collects – from the gender of each shopper to how much time they spend browsing navy culottes – and using it to code new features to improve the functionality of the site. Surveying some data, I recently found that men in New York spend more money on trainers than women spend on heels. Using that kind of information, I can make the predictive search functions more intuitive. So, if we know the location of a shopper based on the data we have, we can predict whether, when they type in ‘br’, they’re more likely to be looking for ‘brogues’ or ‘brown jackets’. And the quicker they get to their desired product, the more likely it is that they’ll buy.

After spending eight years in academia. I’ve got a PhD in astronomy and astrophysics and learned to code during my five years in research. In 2013, I read that The Harvard Business Review had dubbed data scientist “the sexiest job of the 21st century”, because data scientists were so in-demand. It seemed like a smart choice of career for when my PhD finished and I’d always loved fashion, so Lyst offered a perfect opportunity.

Is very detail oriented. I’ll spend seven hours a day coding. I work on one project at a time and write a few hundred lines of code a day. My next project is building a program that can identify the material a garment is made from just by the picture. Millions of products are photographed and uploaded to our site, so it’d be a huge timesaver if they could be tagged automatically. I’ll also plough through data about activity spikes on the website, usually caused by sales when millions of people might be on the site or when a product is trending, like a Narciso Rodriguez dress that Michelle Obama wore last month. It sold out across 465 retailers globally and immediately produced a 300% increase in page views. If I don’t have a deadline looming, I’ll finish work at around 7pm.  

Was after finishing the predictive-search project. It was the first that I’d completely owned from start to finish and I was incredibly proud. I had champagne to celebrate.

Is the hours spent waiting for a new piece of code to pass the tests that mean it can go live. I could have spent months writing something incredibly complex, then have to re-do much of it, as my code isn’t compatible with the rest of the site. It’s always frustrating.

Is the former White Cube gallery building in Hoxton Square that we work in. It’s an amazing building with a real heritage of creativity. It’s open plan, we have three office dogs and there’s a real culture of innovation across the business. Contrary to what people expect, there aren’t any clothes in our office – Lyst’s business model means that we don’t actually hold any stock – but we do get a staff clothing allowance. I just bought some Common Projects sneakers with mine.

I might head for drinks with friends in Shoreditch or go to the gym, before heading home for dinner with my husband. I’ll be in bed by 11pm.

I did my undergraduate degree in Paris and fell in love with their wine bar culture. I’d have loved to open my own wine bar where you could get really great vintages, paired with a delicious range of French cheeses. It’s the dream.

Words: Alexandra Jones
Photography: Liz Gregg
Hair and make-up: Kim Kiefer at Frank Agency using Bobbi Brown and Bumble and Bumble

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