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From Shanghai to Chicago: A Data Science Journey

Name: Mengxue S.
Job Title: Data Science Manager, Enterprise Workforce Management

A place to collaborate

I clearly remember feeling impressed when I interviewed at the Discover Shanghai office eight years ago. I could feel the energetic and harmonious atmosphere instantly. After interviewing, I ended up taking an internship with the Personal Loan Risk Strategy team.

During my internship, I saw how everyone put aside their own work to help each other, generously shared knowledge and collaborated to get things done. That experience made me believe that Discover is a place where I’d be able to get what I need to grow.

Uncovering hidden insights

After my internship, I joined Discover full time as an individual forecaster on the Workforce Management team. I used my statistical and business knowledge to build and enhance forecasting models. The models greatly improved forecasting accuracy and efficiency for various lines of business from acquisition, to servicing, to collection.

I also utilized my analytical skills to find hidden business insights. These insights strengthened my forecasts and supported business decision making. With more accurate forecasts, we could make wiser hiring and scheduling decisions for our agents. Ultimately, my work helped us prepare the right number of phone agents to acquire new accounts, serve our customers, and collect debts with excellent service level and controlled operational costs.

Leaving Shanghai

Five years ago, I visited the Riverwoods headquarters for a short-term rotational program. I realized that the Discover culture is consistent between Shanghai and the United States. After experiencing life at headquarters, the idea of global relocation took root in my heart. A year ago I finally took the plunge and relocated permanently to Riverwoods.

Living authentically

Before I relocated from Shanghai to Riverwoods, my director told me that I should continue to be myself, do the things I had been doing, and never pretend to be someone else. His words made me realize that I had been living and working as my true self, all these years. I’m an honest person, and I really value that here, I can openly speak out if I feel something doesn’t look right.

Leading forecasting

I’m now a people manager. It’s my time to give back and coach my team, guiding them to level up the operational excellence of Discover’s customer service.

My team is responsible for forecasting the call volume in each of the credit card collection lines of business. We leverage both classical and advanced statistical methods to forecast the call volume in different magnitudes: monthly, daily, and every 30 minutes. We also forecast the average length of call.

Our forecast is then passed to our downstream teams to calculate and derive phone workload, agent demand, and ultimately, hiring recommendations. We work closely with the rest of the workforce management teams to ensure the right number of properly skilled agents are in the right place, at the right time. They need to be able to handle the accurately forecasted workload at the desired service level with industry leading quality.

Holiday forecasting

Forecasting becomes even more critical around the holidays. When I was an individual forecaster, I tried different methodologies to improve our accuracy and my efforts paid off. My enhanced methodology considered additional information that we previously didn’t realize influenced call volume. As a result, the forecast accuracy lifted, and we’re able to give holidays back to more agents while maintaining an excellent service level. After I became a people manager, with the stronger team power, we developed an advanced system to automate the holiday forecasting, greatly reducing the manual efforts.

Professional growth

Last year, I got selected to participate in a women’s conference. It was a one day event where female professionals from different industries got together to connect, share and learn. In addition to meeting new people, I joined several learning sessions on relationship management, networking and stress management.

Practicing what I learned from the conference has improved the way I look at things and handle my work. The entrance fee was expensive— I would have missed the opportunity altogether if Discover hadn’t sponsored me.

Why join?

Working at Discover made me believe that every individual, regardless of their title or pay grade, can make a difference. If you want to work for a financial service company that cares about customers, takes social responsibility, and values talent, come and join us. Discover not only shapes a brighter future for our customers, but also for its employees.