When I first talked to Lei Liu he was about to head to Florida for the 2017 Association of Advertisers (ANA) Masters of Marketing conference. Today, he is a Genius Award winner together with his teammate, Emma Yeh (Senior Manager of Integrated Marketing Analytics).
Lei is a Data Scientist on Adobe’s Marketing and Customer Insights (MCI) team. When I asked him what this meant, he said, “I focus on paid media marketing attribution modeling and worldwide marketing budget allocation optimization.”
Still with me?
In layman’s terms, Lei uses data and analytics to support marketing operations. Which means he’ll spend time optimizing marketing budget, so that he can help Adobe run better marketing campaigns with higher returns. Or as he likes to put it, “Think of it like data science for business. My role is to build models to help make recommendations for paid media teams or executives to make better business decisions. Sometimes my work can go all the way to the CEO!”
When I was chatting with Lei, he mentioned how his MCI team helped our Global Marketing Organization become a finalist for the ANA Genius Award, an award that recognizes companies and individuals using analytics to make sense of big data and prove the value of marketing. “We’re flying to Florida in a few days, and hopefully returning as winners,” he said.
Flash forward to today and Lei is all smiles, “To the receive the ANA Genius Award and represent Adobe is something I feel very proud of!”
When looking back at our conversation, this shouldn’t come off as surprising. Lei’s passion and dedication to his work was very evident when we spoke. “I was one of the first data scientists to join this growing team, which is great because there are many opportunities to thrive in this area. That’s why I originally joined Adobe—because I knew there would be so many interesting and exciting projects. With our massive amounts of data, we can use data science tools to uncover valuable hidden patterns to benefit our customers and our business,” he said.
But what surprised me the most about Lei was when I asked him about his background. Lei graduated from Stanford with a PhD in Chemistry and a focus in Bioinorganic Chemistry. During his time there, he conducted spectroscopic and quantum chemistry research on metallo-enzymes and antibiotics to understand bio-catalytic reactions at a molecular level. “There are similarities in the work,” he assured me. “As a graduate student, you need to design, run and collect data for experiments. Then using the data, you build a model to help you understand why things happen. Data science is very similar, but with an added layer—you actually use what you learn to make business impact. Both need a lot of creativity and rigorous thinking to solve problems from scratch.”
As for what’s next for Lei’s Adobe life? When I asked about the 20+ publications he made during his tenure at Stanford, he told me he’s already planning to submit a proposal for the Adobe Patent Award.
If that’s not genius-level intellect, then I don’t know what is.
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PHOTO CREDIT: JACK NGO