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Pinterest Engineering: Meet Lily Liu, Sr. Data Scientist

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Our engineering team is building a more positive place online for Pinterest users around the globe. Each member of our team brings unique skill sets, perspectives and ideas to continue innovating and growing our product. What they all have in common is that they’ve chosen to create an engineering career they love at Pinterest. Meet Lily Xuanchi Liu, Sr. Data Scientist! 

Hi Lily! We’re excited you’re here. What has your career journey at Pinterest looked like so far? 

My journey at Pinterest started as a Data Science Pintern. I got to work on a very impactful project, loved every minute of it and accepted an offer to come back full-time. I have been working in ads quality for three years now, and I’m still enjoying my time and learning new things.

Ads quality is a large area, touching various stages of the ads delivery funnel. Over the years, I supported six different teams and have been fortunate enough to get exposure to almost every aspect of the funnel. I have guided product launches and developed metrics to measure product success. I have analyzed opportunities for potential product improvement ideas and built prototypes to evaluate their feasibility. Much of my work shapes product understanding and guides decision-making at Pinterest.

Now I am focusing on the ads ranking stage and looking for opportunities to improve our ability to show ads for products you actually want to buy. Pinterest is a highly dynamic place, and there are tons of impactful things you can do. If you’re looking for a great place to grow your career, look no further.

What does a week in your life look like? 

During my typical work week, I spend most of my time analyzing ads performance data. This involves researching statistical and machine learning methodologies, writing queries to fetch data and implementing solutions. I meet with my stakeholders several times a week to share project progress and discuss next steps.

The work tends to vary by the stage of a project. At the beginning of a project, I spend more time understanding the opportunities in the problem space, thinking about how my analysis will shape decisions and scoping out expected deliverables. In the middle of a project, I am in the weeds of the analysis and sync regularly with stakeholders to brainstorm ideas and get feedback. Towards the end of a project, my work shifts to aligning with different teams on the best ways to implement my recommendations. Then I will move on to scoping other projects and identifying new opportunities. Sometimes I work on multiple projects simultaneously and find synergies between them.

When you think about the past three years at Pinterest, what’s your favorite moment? 

Oh there are so many great moments, I don’t even know where to start. I remember my first Makeathon, which is Pinterest’s internal version of a hackathon. I had some ideas, so I got two teams of talented individuals together to pitch those ideas. To develop our prototype, everyone on the team wore multiple hats, and we pulled some long nights. In the end, both ideas received a great deal of likes and attention. Today, one of those projects is now live in production and the other is on the roadmap. I think Makeathon greatly embodies Pinterest’s culture – if you see an opportunity, you can make it happen.

What do you love about working at Pinterest?

I’ve already mentioned that there are many highly impactful things you can do at Pinterest, but it’s worth highlighting again. There is great satisfaction in seeing how your analysis informs a decision and how a prototype can turn into a product. As an intern, I was given high-visibility, high-impact projects. Today, I identify impactful projects to work on. I regularly collaborate with my engineering and product partners to learn what’s important to them and brainstorm ideas.

This brings me to the other thing that I love about working at Pinterest: the people here. Everyone is incredibly smart and genuinely helpful. I have learned so much from the people I work with. I’ve had mentors and have been a mentor to others. The people make working at Pinterest a blast.

What are you currently Pinning? 

I have a few long standing interests that I keep Pinning. I enjoy cooking, so I have a lot of recipe collections. I like sculpting and have Pinned many easy-to-do clay ideas. I also paint from time to time, and have Pinned beautiful canvas paintings for my next painting project.

If you’re interested in growing your career at Pinterest, explore our open Engineering roles. Is now not the right time? Join our Talent Community to stay up-to-date on talent news, events and opportunities. For more articles about Pinterest Engineering, check out our Pinterest Engineering Blog.

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